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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 Michigan Radio's Program Director. In that role, Clark oversees all programming on the state's largest public radio station - including the station's award-winning newsroom, commentary from voices like Jack Lessenberry and John U. Bacon, and daily news-magazine Stateside

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

Do you have a question about Michigan politics? Ask us here!

There is a legal question about whether Democrat Abdul El-Sayed is eligible to run for governor. But one thing that is not a question is the fact that the question is not settled, no matter how much the El-Sayed campaign might want to believe that’s the case.

Sensing that legalizing marijuana in Michigan might be inevitable, some Republicans want to get in front of the issue to try to avoid political catastrophe in November.

A petition campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan has cleared a bunch of hurdles. The group pushing the initiative says they have turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot in November.

The fight for the Democratic nod for state attorney general has gotten nasty with less than a week to go before Michigan Democrats decide on a candidate.

Democrats are practically giddy about their prospects for taking control of Congress. They see a blue wave on the horizon, and the next 225 days until November 6th cannot come soon enough for them.

People who remember, remember Republican John Engler as a blunt, pugnacious governor. And, before that, the same as state Senate majority leader.

The legalization of marijuana in Michigan is emerging as an issue in the race for the state's next attorney general.

Attorney General candidate Patrick Miles, an Obama-appointed official who served six and a half years as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, has taken a position on legalization of marijuana in Michigan. He said last week, upon further reflection, he’s for it.

Gun laws across the country are under the microscope at state capitols. And Michigan is no exception. But the reality is, we’re not seeing a re-thinking of gun policy. Instead, everyone’s just returned to their corners.

There’s increasing pressure for Lansing to do something following the school shootings in Parkland, Florida.

Why are Michigan roads so bad? Because we don’t put enough money into fixing them.

Why is that? Because lawmakers don’t fear underfunding the state’s roads will cost them on Election Day.

As part of the state Legislature’s response to Michigan State University’s handling of Larry Nassar, lawmakers are asking the state’s 15 public universities to explain their policies on sexual misconduct.

But, the questions are not stopping there.

Did Governor Rick Snyder intend to name an anti-gay activist to the state civil rights commission? Or is this one that just slipped past him?

Democrats and Republicans are asking, “What was he thinking?”

Snyder seems to have rekindled the fight over LGBT rights in Michigan with his appointment of Ira Combs to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Abdul El-Sayed’s did not have a good week. And it’s not looking like it’s going to get better any time soon.

El-Sayed has captured the imagination of progressives who think he can bring a liberal agenda to Lansing and become the nation’s first Muslim-American governor. This past weekend, at a Democratic forum for Michigan’s gubernatorial candidates in Washtenaw County, there was a throng of excited folks all waiting to talk to him.

The Larry Nassar trials are over and the final round of sentencing hearings begin this week in Eaton County. More and more attention now is turning to East Lansing and how the top echelons at Michigan State University allowed an environment for this abuse to happen and continue.

And because the MSU Board of Trustees is elected statewide, the university’s handling of the situation is going to be a political issue in the 2018 elections.

Governor Rick Snyder brings his sound fiscal-management-show to the stage one last time tomorrow at the Capitol.

But, he’s delivering his final State of the State address to an audience of lawmakers who just dealt him a rare veto override.

Snyder could be celebrating eight years of Republican control in Lansing while he’s been in office. Except Snyder has often found himself on the other side of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Helping your adversary to help yourself.

It’s a political tactic and we’re seeing it right now in Michigan’s Republican primary for governor.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley is running for governor. But, it looks like he’s polling behind fellow Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Schuette has been touting his conservative credentials including an endorsement from President Donald Trump.

As voters pass judgment in the first mid-terms of the Trump era, many are wondering if Michigan will be a congressional battleground in 2018.

There’s a lot of talk about the possibility of a wave-election come November as Democrats prepare for their “wait-til-next-time” moment after the Trump upset of 2016 when Michigan played a central role.

And after last fall’s gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia and the Roy Moore drama in the Alabama Senate race, 2018 is shaping up to be a doozy of an election year.

We could see the most dramatic change to Michigan politics since term limits. This afternoon, an all-volunteer group is one step closer to overhauling how redistricting is done in Michigan.

There’s a new battle in Lansing pitting business groups against unions and it could wind up playing out next November with dueling ballot proposals.

A group of trade unions will launch a petition drive tomorrow to try and preserve Michigan’s prevailing wage law. This is the law that requires contractors to pay union-scale wages on state construction projects.

Michigan’s Legislature does not like voters checking its work. Case in point: lawmakers are back to referendum-proofing controversial legislation.

Referendum-proofing is a maneuver that’s become common in the Rick Snyder years in Lansing. If lawmakers pass legislation that has some kind of money involved in it - an appropriation - voters can’t repeal it.

It’s always hard to save money. We know that’s true for many people, and it’s true for Lansing, as well.

And, politics makes it even harder.

A recent report by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council says Michigan is not ready for another recession. The report says lawmakers are short-changing the state’s savings-account, officially known as the Budget Stabilization Fund, but commonly referred to as the “rainy day” fund.

Was last year’s Trump-wave a one-time deal? This past Tuesday’s election results are a hint at what might be in store for Election 2018.

Democrats pretty much ran the table last week in Virginia and New Jersey so Republicans have to face some tough political truths. That President Donald Trump has a very low approval rating. That voters upset with him were motivated to get out and vote. And, that it’s tough in mid-terms to be the party that controls the White House and Congress.

It is petition signing time in Michigan.

When you go vote tomorrow it is very likely that you will be greeted by a petition circulator.

These circulators look for registered voters because they need to submit enough signatures to the state in order to quality for next year’s ballot. Maybe you’ve already met folks trying to get you to sign onto a petition regarding marijuana legalization, redistricting, or whether Lansing should move to a part-time Legislature.

We are now a year away from Election 2018. It’s the time when the concept of who a candidate might be is starting to create the reality of who that candidate will be.

We are in the period of time when candidates running for office in 2018 are trying to solidify their status as the front-runner, figuring out who’s got that all important political momentum.

Governor Rick Snyder’s election seven years ago was supposed to represent the political triumph of “economic gardening,” the idea that government doesn’t offer big incentives to land big companies and, thus, pick winners and losers.

Instead, the idea goes, economic gardening works to create an overall environment that allows businesses and startups to grow organically. The benefits are supposed to be fairness to both small and large businesses and that tax breaks and incentives are more across the board.

Here’s a scoop: We already know who’s on the ballot next year. Even though you won’t see their names in the voting booth.

Election 2018 is a little more than a year away but we are looking forward to the past.

Are you persuadable? A persuadable voter, that is. The research says, probably not.

There’s new research by political scientists at Berkeley and Stanford that says voters in general election campaigns are largely unpersuaded by political ads. And a lot of political pros say this matches with their experience in recent years.

It’s not always gridlock and stalemate in Lansing. The left and right seem to have come together to solve a lingering controversy. But, can it last?

A plan in the state Legislature that would hurry up getting rid of driver responsibility fees appears to be on a fast track in Lansing. These fees are surcharges tacked onto traffic fines. Lawmakers approved them in 2003 in order to fill what was then a big hole in the state budget.

Michigan Republicans have packed their bags - and their hangovers - and returned home after a weekend of politics and partying on Mackinac Island.

There was a lot of celebrating over the GOP sweep in 2016, including President Trump winning Michigan, the first Republican to do so in 28 years.

S(c)huette and Trump

Sep 18, 2017

Apparently, President Donald Trump and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette agree: Spelling counts in their “winning” strategy.

Schuette announced this past week that he’s running for Governor in 2018 and Trump tweeted, and then had to retweet, a message of support.

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Representative David Trott announced Monday morning that he will not seek reelection in 2018. The announcement comes after speculation by various pundits and the retirement of two other Republican congressmen last week.

It’s been 15 years since Michigan lawmakers reversed a Governor’s veto but it could happen again this week when the Legislature returns to Lansing from its summer recess.

Some members of the GOP are getting a little fed up with their fellow Republican Governor Rick Snyder and they want to try and muster the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto of a bill they passed earlier this year. It was a pretty innocuous piece of legislation that accelerated tax breaks for car buyers who trade in their vehicles.

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