Mark Brewer

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It’s already been a month since Election Day, but Democrats in Michigan are continuing to sort out just what happened.

It’s fair to say it wasn’t all bad for Democrats. 

There was an epic battle last week to see who would become the next chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. In the end, longtime apparatchik Mark Brewer threw in the towel before the state convention vote, and conceded victory to Lon Johnson, a newcomer with ties to the White House.

What was most surprising is that Brewer waited so long. Every member of the party’s Congressional delegation was calling for him to go, as was the leadership of the United Auto Workers and Teamsters’ unions. It’s hard to understand how he could have hoped to function as chair with all those arrayed against him, but the job had become his life. He hung in there till it was clear to him that he didn’t have the votes to succeed.

Democrats, are, however, a fractious group used to fighting among themselves. This battle is unlikely to do them any harm, especially if Lon Johnson can revitalize the state party.

DETROIT (AP) - The longtime leader of the Michigan Democrats is losing his job.

Mark Brewer on Saturday withdrew from the race for party chairman at the state Democratic Party convention in Detroit. He said he wishes challenger Lon Johnson all the best.

Brewer announced his decision to thousands of delegates rather than continue an uphill climb to retain his seat after unions and Michigan's Democratic congressional delegation got behind Johnson. Brewer said he wishes Johnson all the best.

What looks like one of the tightest and toughest elections in recent years is happening tomorrow, and most of us can’t even vote. The battle is for leadership of the Michigan Democratic Party, and it will be settled at their state convention in Detroit. Major battles over who should be the next state chair are fairly rare these days, and when they happen, it’s mostly for ideological reasons.

It is now difficult to imagine that Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer can win election to another term when his party holds its state convention 17 days from now.

Yesterday, every single Democratic member of the state congressional delegation -- both U.S. Senators and five congressmen -- endorsed his little-known rival, Lon Johnson.

Earlier, both the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters said it was time for Brewer to go. Yet in what has to be embarrassing for all concerned, Brewer is still fighting to keep his job.

This appears to show that he is in hopeless denial of reality, and cares far more about clinging to a job than the good of his party.

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The race for the Democratic chair

"Michigan's Democratic congressional delegation wants to replace the long-time chairman of the state Democratic Party. Sens. Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow and five members of the U.S. House wrote an open letter to Democrats Tuesday backing Lon Johnson over incumbent Mark Brewer," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit moves to turn on its lights

"The Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved articles of incorporation for a public lighting authority in the city. The state legislature passed bills in December enabling the lighting authority. Detroit has chronic problems keeping many of its streetlights on, though no one can say for sure how many aren't working at any given time," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Lakes Michigan and Huron at record low levels

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may take another look at placing structures at the bottom of the St. Clair River to boost water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan. The lakes are at their lowest levels since record-keeping began in 1918, and many people in the region are demanding action," The Associated Press reports.

What a week in Michigan politics! The litigating has begun on the state’s new right-to-work law, keeping the controversy alive, in the media, and in the public eye. There’s a right-to-work case in a lower court as well, but Governor Snyder asked the Michigan Supreme Court to make some key rulings so state employees can start dropping out of their unions as soon as the end of March.

Electoral College Changes?

Michigan GOP / file photo

Senate Minority leader Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer want a special investigation into the case of Democrat-turned-Republican State Representative Roy Schmidt.

The Kent County Prosecutor says Schmidt and House Speaker Jase Bolger tried to “perpetrate a fraud” on voters. But he says they didn’t commit any crimes. You can read his full report that was released last month here.

But Whitmer isn’t so sure. She believes there’s evidence to prove that Schmidt and others conspired to commit perjury and obstructed justice.

“My biggest fear is that people just brush it off as, you know, one of those odious things that happens in the capitol and it’s just not the case. It is very serious,” Whitmer said.

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Brewer wants IRS to investigate Durant

The Michigan Democratic Party wants the International Revenue Service to investigate Clark Durant. Durant one of the Republicans vying to run against Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow this November. Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer says Durant's salary - and his daughter's salary - use up 95-percent of the money in a charity meant to help children attend private religious schools in Detroit. Brewer says an outside attorney believes that's illegal. Durant says the claim is nothing but political theatre.   

State Democratic and Republican party leaders continue to fight over the recent party switch by a Michigan state representative.

State Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer delivered a letter today to State House Speaker Jase Bolger’s Kalamazoo office demanding he reveal more about his role in the party switch of state representative Roy Schmidt.

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Michigan’s Presidential Primary is only two weeks away.

On February 28, Republicans and Democrats can go out and vote for their nominee for President. That’s because Michigan is what you’d call an “open state.” Once you get to the polls all you have to do is request either a Republican or Democrat ballot.

Eleven Republican presidential candidates are on the ballot so far. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat.

Voting Booths
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Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Michigan should allow anyone to vote by absentee ballot without having to give a reason why they cannot make it to a polling place on Election Day.

It’s one of several election proposals she outlined today.

They also include cleaning voter rolls of dead people, those who have moved, and non-citizens. 

Johnson said people should be allowed to cast absentee ballots without giving a reason why they cannot show up at a polling place on Election Day.

She said people who vote absentee would face the same identity requirements as people who cast ballots on Election Day.

"We need the same level of security in our elections whether it's absentee or it's people who come to vote at the polls. Michigan is a state where you must show an ID, a photo ID, or sign an affidavit of identity. We would require the same standard for the no-reason absentee," said Johnson.

Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party Mark Brewer says the Republican’s election plans provide less ballot access than what’s being done in other states.

 "Many other states, including those run by Republicans, on a bipartisan basis are adopting reforms like early voting. They’re letting people register to vote on Election Day. All these are designed to make and have made it much easier for people to vote," said Brewer.

Brewer also said voting by non-citizens is not a big problem because they would risk deportation.

He said the effort to stop non-citizens from voting plays to racial fears.

Johnson does not favor early voting or Election Day voter registration as methods to spur more voter participation.

She has called for a federal law to give her office access to immigration and Social Security records that would help clear non-citizens off the state’s voter list.

She said going forward the state will also require people to promise they are U.S. citizens before they can vote.