It's Just Politics

Mondays at 8:50 AM

Politics can be messy. Politics can be confusing. But, that certainly doesn't mean politics can't be a joy-ride. Join It's Just Politics hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta Monday mornings on Morning Edition as they drill down on what’s happening in Michigan politics.

Rick and Zoe tell us how the game of politics is not only fun and thrilling, but has a real impact on the policy-making that affects all of us.

Want to know what's really going on inside the state Capitol building? Or, why your lawmaker really voted the way they did? They've got the answers... and much more.

It's Just Politics – every Monday morning at 8:50 am on Michigan Radio.

Rick Pluta has covered Michigan government and politics since 1987. His first big Michigan political story was the brutal GOP presidential primary battle that pitted Vice President George H.W. Bush against former Congressman Jack Kemp and televangelist Pat Robertson. That battle spawned two competing state political conventions and the now-famous “I Survived the 1988 Michigan Republican Delegate Selection Process” t-shirt. He would pay money now that he did not pay then to get one. He collects political pins - a professional side hobby that’s hit the skids as cost-conscious campaigns have taken a tragic turn toward stickers. He is an excellent parallel parker. 

Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie. She fell in love with all things political when she was eight years old and begged her parents to let her stay up late to follow the 1992 presidential election returns. No way, they said. But she did convince them to wake her up when the race was called. (Which they did.) It was her job to wake up early for four years as the producer of Morning Edition on Michigan Radio. Now, in addition to being Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie, Zoe is the executive producer of the daily news-magazine Stateside and oversees interviews on All Things Considered. She is a better parallel parker than Rick.

Follow Rick on Twitter at @rickpluta and Zoe at @ZoeMelinaClark

It’s like November in September as absentee ballots in Michigan are in the mail and, for some, voting has already begun.

If history is any guide, about a quarter of Michigan voters will vote using an absentee ballot, even though some will probably lie to do it because not everyone can legally cast an absentee ballot in Michigan.

Michigan’s 1st Congressional District is huge - almost 25,000 square miles - and it is where, with the pending retirement of Republican Congressman Dan Benishek, former Marine Corps General Jack Bergman – a Republican – is facing former Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson.

Democrats in Michigan are breathing a sigh of relief now that the fight over straight-ticket voting in Michigan is over. For now, at least.

The U.S. Supreme Court torpedoed Republican efforts on Friday to deep-six a Democratic advantage in the Michigan election process.

michigan.gov / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan Republicans and Democrats held their summer nominating conventions over the weekend. 

Our It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sat down with us today to break down both conventions.

There is a saying in politics that three-quarters of what you do in a campaign doesn’t matter -- you just don’t know which three quarters until after the campaign is over.

That’s because there are so many variables that can make a difference once the voting starts, so candidates, campaigns, and political parties do all they can to gain every marginal advantage.

How much of a role will the state of Michigan’s economy play in deciding your vote in November? Last week, the presidential candidates acted as if it might be a big deal as they both made stops in Michigan to deliver speeches on jobs and the economy. 

Michigan, and Detroit, in particular, remain economically emblematic. But there are two stories to tell and the candidates each packed a different one for the trip. 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both coming to Michigan this week which begs the question: is Michigan in play come November?

After tomorrow's congressional and legislative primaries, just 97 days remain until Election Day 2016. Of course, it's never too early to look ahead to the 2018 elections and, at least one petition campaign is already making plans in that direction.

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s staying out of the presidential race this year, but he’s not staying out of politics.

This past week, Snyder’s political operation picked more than a dozen Republicans to support in state races.

There’s a new chief for the embattled state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) but the effort to restore confidence to the agency that was a huge part of the Flint water crisis is off to a rocky start.

The sultry days of summer are no break from politics. In fact, the state Legislature’s summer recess is becoming a political wedge itself.

The latest re-invention of public schools in Detroit is underway with the state trying yet again to overhaul the district facing huge financial and academic difficulties.

But it’s still too early to declare victory.

This new plan out of Lansing is without the support of legislative Democrats, the Detroit delegation and Mayor Mike Duggan. But it does return the Detroit public schools back to the control of a locally elected school board. This is coming after many state appointed emergency managers over seven years have tried but failed to turn around the district.

The group that’s trying to legalize marijuana in Michigan is telling the state: See you in court.

And the outcome of the challenge could have a huge impact on politics, law-making, and future elections in Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to make the best of it as a plan he endorsed to try and save the Detroit Public Schools is starting to look like it isn’t going to happen.

The Detroit Public Schools are in financial crisis. The district could go into default - bankruptcy is even an option - if the the state Legislature doesn’t adopt a bailout plan this month. If that happens, it’s possible tens of thousands of students in the city could be without a school to go to come fall.

Flickr user healthiermi/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Over 1,500 politicians, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and business people are at the Grand Hotel for this year's Mackinac Policy Conference. There will be three days of events and speakers, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

 

Our It’s Just Politics team, Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, describes the event as a "melting pot" of Michigan leaders.

The week after Memorial Day is when Michigan’s political and business leaders pack up and head north to Mackinac Island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference.

Mackinac is a major political event where political fundraisers are as ubiquitous as horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and complimentary cocktails.

Donald Trump is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee so, what does that portend for Republicans further down the ballot?

For Donald Trump to win the presidency, he’ll have to change the Electoral College map to win states Republicans don’t usually win. And, based on Trump’s apparent appeal to blue collar voters in old Rust Belt states, Michigan is high on that list.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller endorsed Trump last week.

There is no agreement at the state Capitol about how to fix Detroit’s schools and time is growing short as the possibility of a default looms. But, it’s not Republicans versus Democrats on this one. This is a showdown between Republicans.

President Obama is planning to fly into Flint later this week to check in on the response to the city’s drinking water crisis and Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t plan to follow along on the presidential visit.

So, the question becomes: can the governor of Michigan really altogether snub the president of the United States?

Snyder has certainly tried to lay an equal share of the blame for what went wrong in Flint on problems caused by the federal government and its layers of bureaucracy.

Governor Snyder left for Europe this weekend in a quest for jobs and economic investment for Michigan but he’s also heading overseas in an effort to reclaim the two and half years he has left in office.

Since January, Snyder has basically been the governor of Flint (not that Flint residents are too happy about that).

A taxpayer-financed prison from the tough-on-crime era is back in the news. The Northlake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan has been a conundrum for taxpayers since it was opened in 1999 (amid more than a little controversy).

As if their relationship wasn’t complicated enough already, now Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is threatening to take Governor Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan to court.

There were political fireworks at two hearings in Washington D.C. last week that overshadowed the almost simultaneous beginning of hearings by a state legislative committee on the Flint water crisis.

Remember that time when there was just nothing better than being a Republican governor? When it was almost a given that the next Republican candidate for president would come from the current or former GOP Gubernatorial ranks?

New emails from the Snyder administration about the Flint water crisis have been voluntarily released and the revelations have not been kind to Governor Snyder and his inner circle.

Some folks profoundly unhappy with Governor Rick Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis will make another attempt at launching a petition drive to recall him.

A story circulated recently that took the Republican-led state Senate to task ostensibly for voting to uphold the Michigan statute that outlaws sodomy. The story was widely circulated and re-posted, but there was no actual basis in fact to what started as a blog post.

Michigan presidential primary voters will head to the polls a month from tomorrow. But, if you think the action is waiting until then, think again.

The ballot campaign to add LGBT and women’s rights to the state constitution is kaput, at least for this year.

Suspending the campaign

The Fair Michigan campaign succumbed to the reality this past week that it was not going to get the establishment support and financial backing it needed to put the question of adding gender equality and LGBT rights to the state constitution’s equal protection clause.

The Snyder administration is now in over-drive to create both the perception and the reality that the state is engaged in making rapid progress in dealing with the Flint water crisis.

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