WUOMFM

Michigan Republicans picked a felon to represent them in the Electoral College

Aug 29, 2016

Michigan Democrats and Republicans held their state conventions last weekend, mainly to nominate candidates for the education boards.

That includes the state board of education, plus two seats each for the three major universities – Wayne State, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan.

There were no real surprises there, and I can tell you this about who is going to win: If the latest federal court ruling reinstating straight ticket voting stands, Democrats will win most, if not all, of these eight seats.

There are two reasons for this:

Polls and recent history indicate that Hillary Clinton will win Michigan by several hundred thousand votes. Turnout will be far higher than two years ago, and there will be more Democratic straight ticket votes than Republican.

That’s what determines how the education seats go. Pretty much the only people who vote for these positions are straight ticket voters, except for the candidates’ friends, lovers, and mothers.

If the straight ticket ban is reinstated at the last minute, the competition could get much more interesting, but we’ll have to see.

The conventions also nominated candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court, but the result is also likely to be pretty much cut and dried. Republicans nominated two of their incumbents – Justice David Viviano and Justice Joan Larsen.

Democrats picked Wayne County Probate Judge Frank Szymanski to challenge Viviano, and Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas to run against Larsen. Barring an unexpected cataclysm, the Democrats are going to lose.

That’s because the ballots will all note that the Republicans are already justices of the Supreme Court.

Psychologically, we are telling the voters that the challengers are Brand X, and as we know from all those TV commercials, Brand X is never as good as the major label.

... while the high court candidates are nominated by the political parties, they aren't included when you check the straight ticket box.

Plus, while the high court candidates are nominated by the political parties, they aren’t included when you check the straight ticket box -- you have to vote for them individually.

There have been exceptions. Democrats did manage to knock off a Republican incumbent eight years ago, thanks to a brilliant TV commercial that appeared to show him sleeping on the bench.

Unfortunately, the winner of that race, Justice Diane Hathaway, ended up going to prison for real estate fraud.

But the real shocker out of either convention was something almost no one noticed. Republicans picked their slate of 16 presidential electors, the people who will cast Michigan’s all-important electoral votes if Donald Trump does win the state.

Among them is one William Rauwerdink. You may not have heard of him, but federal prosecutors have.

Rauwerdink was a major league criminal, at the center of what one professor in 2003 called one of the worst accounting fraud scandals ever.

Rauwerdink was a major league criminal, at the center of what one professor in 2003 called one of the worst accounting fraud scandals ever.

Ten years ago, he couldn’t have been at a Republican convention because he was serving almost four years in federal prison. A federal judge in Detroit also ordered him to pay a whopping $265 million in restitution to his victims.

I don’t know if he ever came up with all that dough, but the Republican Party knows all about him.

Yet two days ago, they judged him worthy to be a member of the institution the founding fathers created to pick our presidents, the Electoral College.

Somewhere, Abraham Lincoln is crying.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.