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This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what could happen to the state Legislature after the election, possible surprises in congressional races and the wolf hunting proposal votes which may not matter.


screen grab from HDNet clip

The city of Detroit plans to acquire 77 vacant properties from Detroit Public Schools.

In return, the city will forgive the district's $11,600,000 in debt.  From the city's press release:

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The final round of the annual Wayne County property tax foreclosure auction closed on Tuesday.

This year, about 24,000 properties—the vast majority located in Detroit--were up for auction over two rounds.

The auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as the number of tax-foreclosed properties has soared, and bidding moved online.

More than 7000 of the properties up for auction this year were believed to be occupied.

Today on Stateside:

  • It's been nearly a year since the Republican Party opened an outreach office in Detroit. Is the office paid off yet?
  • We spoke with the South African author of "Broken Monsters," a suspense and horror story set in Detroit.
  • A Republican Congressman who lost the August primary decided to mount a write-in campaign, even though it could drain off enough votes to send the Democratic candidate to Washington.
  • For some Michiganders, aside from Halloween, there's another holiday on the horizon: Dia de los Muertos.
  • Stateside’s Renee Gross brought us a story about the minorities in Michigan’s restaurant industry and the glass ceiling they may be facing.

* Listen to the full show above.

Kerry Bentivolio / bentivolioforcongress.com

 

There's a political battle brewing in Michigan's 11th Congressional District.

Put simply: A Republican Congressman who was thumped in the primary decided to mount a write-in campaign, even though it could drain off enough votes to send the Democratic candidate to Washington.

Republican Kerry Bentivolio, sometimes known as "the accidental congressman," was the only Michigan congressman to lose his primary in August. That means new faces are running for the 11th District seat: Republican Dave Trott, who beat Bentivolio in the primary, and Democrat Bobby McKenzie. 

 

Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler has been following the race. He says while McKenzie is a relative newcomer, Trott has deep ties to local political circles and strong backing by the mainstream Republican party. 

How is the Republican Party faring in its quest for votes in Detroit?

It was last December when the GOP brought in U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to christen its new voter engagement office in Detroit.

Bridge Magazine writer Nancy Derringer recently visited the office to check in on things. Derringer says selling the Republican Party in Detroit, a city with enormous African-American majorities, is a more daunting task than you might think. And even the party itself says it's a long-term effort.

Detroit-based freelance writer Aaron Foley says the African-American community tends to get turned off easily by even the word "Republican."

"A lot of people still vote Democrat even though where they worship and where a lot of their faith is more of a Republican thing," says Foley.

Derringer says the GOP's message to Detroit voters is to emphasize the similarities they share with them. 

"You have to admit that we have a lot in common. You are for faith and families, we are for faith and families; you want good schools, we want good schools; you want to feel safe in homes, that's what we are all about," says Derringer.

* Listen to our conversation with Aaron Foley and Nancy Derringer above.

Official portrait

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says the United States had no real choice but to get involved in the battle against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“You can’t sit still and do nothing when you have a group like ISIS whose goal is basically total terror,” Levin said during a visit to Grand Rapids this week.

Levin says the Islamic State threatens to terrorize countries neighboring Iraq and Syria and even the U.S., if left unchecked.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

One of the rituals of the political campaign season is the newspaper endorsement. This past weekend, the liberal-leaning editorial page of The Detroit Free Press – also the state’s largest newspaper – caused some head-scratching and tongue-wagging with its endorsement in the governor’s race.

The Free Press editorial page had pretty much stuck with the Democratic ticket in this election cycle. That is until this past Sunday, when it endorsed Republican Governor Rick Snyder for reelection.

Alliance for Retired Americans / Flickr

Seniors could play an important role in the upcoming election, as Michiganders age 50 and older are expected to represent well over half of the voters who show up to the polls next week. That’s pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But as Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, seniors and retirees are playing an especially important role in this year’s election.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Election Day is one week from tomorrow.

Radio and television sales executives are going to be sorry to see the campaign ads come to an end, because Michigan campaign ad spending is among the highest in the nation.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network projects spending for the governor's race will top $30 million, with much of that money coming from outside Michigan. MLive's Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting has been doing his best to follow the money trail.

In a general breakdown of where outside spending is coming from, Oosting says that for Snyder, it’s coming from big business figures including David Koch and the founder of 5 Hour Energy, Manoj Bhargava. For Mark Schauer, it’s coming from the UAW and other labor groups. Oosting notes it’s difficult to see exactly how much money is being spent and by whom. Part of the reason is issue ads, which don’t directly endorse a candidate and don’t have to report their spending. An interesting note Oosting makes is that former New York City Mayor Bloomberg has money behind both pro- and anti-Snyder ads. While Oosting notes that Bloomberg clearly supports Governor Snyder, he has donated money to the Democratic Governors Association, which spends nationally but has been running anti-Snyder ads in the state of Michigan.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

Michiganders age 50 and over are expected to represent well over half of the voters that show up to the polls on November 4.

That is pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But seniors and retirees are already playing an especially important role in this year’s election.

Perry Seavitt, a 70 year old retired teacher from Freemont, considers himself a Republican. But he is not sure which candidate for governor will get his vote. He says he is leaning toward Democrat Mark Schauer because incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder decided to start taxing retiree pensions.

wikimedia commons

Groups advocating for the elderly are organizing an effort to lobby Michigan lawmakers for new protections for caregivers.

“We’re going to be pushing hard in 2015 for something called the CARE Act,” said Mark Hornbeck with AARP Michigan. “That will help people have some rights when they’re taking care of elder parents or an older aunt and uncle or even an older friend.”

The proposed legislation would require health care workers to notify caregivers when a patient is admitted, transferred, or discharged from a hospital. It would also require them to give clear instructions on how to care for the patient when they come home from the hospital.

“A lot or caregivers out there are working full time and trying to take care of elder parents at the same time. And it’s just overwhelming,” said Hornbeck.

AARP has been lobbying state Legislatures across the country to pass versions of the CARE Act. Oklahoma has already adopted the law.

In-home care workers in Michigan used to be automatically represented by a union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law ending automatic union membership for caregivers.

Thousands have since left the SEIU.

The Detroit budget department is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday to hear from residents what they believe the city’s budget priorities should be.

Representatives from a number of city departments will be present at the hearing, including fire, police, health, public lighting and public works.

John Roach is a spokesman for City of Detroit. He says because of the bankruptcy, the budget this year is a bit different from a typical city budget.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

While all the attention on the November election has centered on statewide races for governor and Congress, there are other issues on the ballot.

Voters in several Michigan cities are being asked to make changes to their city charters in next month’s election.

For example, Kalamazoo voters are being asked if they want to make major changes to their roughly century-old city charter.

Kalamazoo voters elect their city commissioners every two years. The top vote-getter serves as mayor.

bernsteinforjustice.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Richard Bernstein has put more than $1.8 million of his own money into his campaign for the Michigan Supreme Court.

  The disclosure was made Friday as candidates for a variety of political offices met a deadline to report campaign finances. Bernstein is an Oakland County lawyer who was nominated by the Democratic Party for an eight-year term on the Supreme Court.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder's re-election campaign raised $2.5 million in the past eight weeks and has about $1.8 million in the final days before the November 4th election.

  Democratic challenger Mark Schauer's campaign took in $1.6 million and has about $1.4 million.

  The campaigns filed fundraising reports Friday covering late August through last weekend.

Michigan Supreme Court

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a new report saying a quarter of Michigan homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages, Republican congressional candidate David Trott’s rough week and the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision not to reconsider parole hearings for juvenile lifers.


We are now a week and a half away from Election Day and this is the breakout time in any campaign season. The closing days when candidates and campaigns make their final pitches to try and close the deal with voters.

Although a lot of voters have already voted. As many as a third of the ballots in Election 2014 will be absentee ballots filled out before November 4th actually arrives.

Closing Arguments Coming Earlier

And that means as many as a third of Michigan voters have already made up their minds and won’t wait for November and the campaigns’ closing arguments. The fact that so many voters now use absentee ballots has pushed up the late-campaign attack ads; the ones that are really jarring.

Bobby McKenzie, Democrat running in Michigan’s 11th Congressional district, recently released an ad attacking his Republican opponent David Trott. It’s an ad that The Washington Post called “one of the most brutal attack ads you’ll even see.”

 

Today on Stateside:

  • John U. Bacon broke down what's at stake for the Michigan-Michigan State football game this weekend.
  • The latest circulation figures indicate newspapers' decline. Industry experts Bill Thomas and Jack Lessenberry talked about why that's the case and how it can hurt democracy.
  • Facing criticisms of the recent pay raises, the DIA has to re-think its compensation strategy.
  • The founder of a Michigan-based charity uncovered the lesser-told side of the breast-cancer story: the financial hardship patients often endure as they go through treatment.

* Listen to the full show above.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Republican candidate for Congress David Trott was the subject of some street theater this week.

Trott is running for the U.S. House seat in Metro Detroit’s 11th district.

He’s also a former co-owner of the Trott & Trott law firm, which specializes in home foreclosure work on behalf of banks. It prospered during the recent housing crisis, foreclosing on up to 80,000 homes in 2009 alone.

Mitt Romney
(courtesy of MittRomneyCentral.com)

We’re edging ever closer to the November election and across the country big names in politics have been visiting states to drum up support for different candidates.

Here in Michigan we’ve had visits from:

  • Michelle Obama 
  • Mitt Romney
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Bill Clinton
  • Chris Christie
  • Jeb Bush

Next week President Obama will visit Michigan.

Do these visits really have an impact on local elections?

Or is it more about building political capital for that political heavyweight?

Jake Neher / MPRN

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what it means for Michigan when big name politicians campaign for local candidates, the outlook for the state’s major races, and what political parties are up to as Nov. 4 draws near.


In the race for governor, few things are disputed more than education funding under Gov. Rick Snyder. Challenger Mark Schauer claims Snyder cut funding by a billion dollars. Snyder has called that a lie and says he’s added a billion dollars. They’re both sort of right and they’re both wrong.

“Both sides have truth. Neither is lying, per se,” said Mitch Bean.

He is a former director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency. That’s a nonpartisan agency within the Michigan House of Representatives. Now he’s a consultant and he’s been looking at the budgets to try to find out exactly what has happened to money for schools.

Steve Carmody

Midterm elections tend not to draw out many Democrat voters, so as Election Day draws closer, the Democratic Party is pulling out all the stops to encourage voters to turn out. 

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan’s 5th District, hosted Bill Clinton in Flint today. Kildee joined us on Stateside to talk about the importance of midterm elections.  

“Many people mistakenly believe that we choose the course the country will take once every four years when we elect a president. Here in Michigan, we make those decisions in the midterms,” Kildee says, including decisions about congressional seats and who sits in the governor’s chair.  

Top Democrats who've visited Michigan include Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton. Kildee says President Obama may visit the state within the next week.  

Jake Neher / MPRN

Another Clinton was in Michigan on Wednesday urging Democrats to show up to the polls on November 4th. Last week it was former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This time it was her husband rallying Democrats to try to get out the vote.

“We don’t win these races and we get this gridlock because too many people don’t vote at midterm,” said former President Bill Clinton in front of a crowd of hundreds of Democrats.

Matt Radick / Flickr

  It’s been nearly two years since a lame-duck Legislature made Michigan the 24th right-to-work state. In response, 12,000 furious protesters flocked to the state Capitol, vowing Republicans would pay dearly at the next elections.

Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of the Detroit News, and Michigan Radio political analyst Jack Lessenberry joined Stateside to talk about the impact of right-to-work on the upcoming elections.

User: Valerie Everett / Flickr

 

Newspaper endorsements are one of America's time-honored election traditions.

But as the winds of change blow through newsrooms across the nation, that tradition is changing.  

Anna Clark wrote about this for the Columbia Journalism Review. She says some major newspapers have stopped making endorsements since the trend started around 2009.

According to Clark, some newspapers are concerned about the risk endorsements may pose to their credibility. Others cited doubts about whether endorsements actually affect election results. 

@billclinton

Bill Clinton will be campaigning with Democrats in Flint tomorrow.

The former president is just the latest big-name Democrat to push for votes in Michigan. First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made campaign stops in Detroit to rally the Democratic Party base in recent weeks.

President Barack Obama is expected to visit Michigan before Election Day.

One analyst says Democrats are bringing in big names in an attempt to boost turnout in next month’s election.

Ruth Johnson, Michigan Secretary of State
Ruth Johnson for Michigan

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Gov. Rick Snyder both say the state should allow every voter who does not want to wait until Election Day to cast an absentee ballot. So does Johnson’s Democratic opponent in the November election.

Michigan is in the minority of states that does not currently allow no-reason absentee voting. Twenty-seven other states and Washington D.C. already allow it.

So what is getting in the way of Michigan joining that list?

Detroit Regional Chamber / Flickr

Michigan has seen a torrent of political ads in the Senate race between Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land – more than 45,000, according to Center for Public Integrity.

Michigan has the third-highest spending of any state in a Senate race. Who's paying for these ads? Todd Spangler is the Washington reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

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