Election 2012

State election officials have dismissed all but one of several complaints filed against state House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt.

The complaints of illegally using taxpayer resources were filed against the Republican lawmakers by Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer.

Bolger and Schmidt plotted Schmidt's switch to the Republican Party and tried to rig a re-election campaign by recruiting a fake Democrat to run.

More from the Detroit News:

Stan Oleson / Fotopedia

Voters in Michigan could make some big changes to the Michigan Constitution on November 6th. They’ll decide on five proposed amendments to Michigan’s guiding legal document.

Proposal 2 would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution.

Those supporting Proposal 2 say they’re just trying to protect workers’ rights. Labor unions around the Midwest have been feeling squeezed. The legislature in Wisconsin stripped public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights.

wikimedia commons

Republicans are hoping to put Michigan's Electoral College votes back in play with $3.7 million worth of TV ad buys in the state as the campaign heads into its final week.

As the Detroit Free Press reports, the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity announced an ad buy of $1.5 million Tuesday, while the Super PAC Restore Our Future has purchased $2.2 million of air time.

Stateside: Contrary to recent ad, Jeep will stay in the U.S.

Oct 30, 2012
Rebecca Williams

As the year’s Presidential Campaign comes to a close, both parties focus on Chrysler’s future plans concerning Jeep.

In a recent ad, Governor Romney claimed Jeep had plans of moving its production to China, a claim that was soon refuted by the company.

David Shepardson, the Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief, talked to Stateside to help clarify the confusion surrounding the ad. According to Shepardson, the ad acts more as a reflection of the race’s desperation than a document of the auto industry’s future.

On the November 6 ballot you'll find a non-partisan section, along with the names of candidates running for the Michigan Supreme Court. Jennifer White talks with Bridge Magazine correspondent Peter Luke who has taken and in-depth look at how Michigan Supreme Court Justices are elected, and what you should know about the candidates before heading to the polls. Go here to read the full article.

Stateside: Supreme Court Candidate, Bridget Mary McCormack

Oct 29, 2012
http://web.law.umich.edu

Continuing our coverage of Michigan’s Supreme Court race, Cyndy Canty spoke with candidate Bridget Mary McCormack.

McCormack is the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Michigan’s Law School and is also a Clinical Professor of Law.

“I am really committed to the important, independent role the Court plays in our constitutional democracy,” said McCormack.

One of the Supreme Court’s primary functions, says McCormack, is attending to its surrounding community.

“We are providing a legal service to the community,” says McCormack.

Rina Miller / Michigan Radio

There’s a debate in Michigan over whether people who provide in-home help to those with disabilities and some elderly should be guaranteed the right to collective bargaining under a Constitutional amendment.

That’s part of what Proposal 4 is about.

Elizabeth Schultz lives in an apartment in Holland with her cat, Kiko.  Schultz is college educated, teaches a class at a community mental health agency and is a deacon at her church.

Next week, with just a week and a half to go before Election Day, Governor Snyder will board a bus to tour the state. The purpose of the trip: to focus attention on the Emergency Manager Law referendum and the five proposed amendments to the state constitution that you’ll find on the November ballot.

The Governor says he’s going all out, “I’m in campaign mode, to be open with you. I’m not running for office, as you know, right now… I’m setting up a schedule to say this is a campaign, because this is a campaign for Michigan’s future.” The governor is calling for a “yes” vote on Proposal One and “no” on the rest. This election has been called a referendum that will determine the success of the rest of his first term.

So, for us political junkies, it raises the question: can a governor, particularly one “in campaign mode,” really push the results of a ballot campaign in one direction or another. Typically, the answer is “no.” It’s often tried but usually a politician’s appeal or popularity does not rub off onto ballot proposals. Though they can gather a bit of media attention at first, endorsements are one of the most overrated political activities. The fact is, campaigns win or lose on the strength of message and organization. So, then, why do politicians engage in endorsements? Well, because politicians work with what they’ve got. A governor still has a platform, and it’s easier to sow seeds of doubt than to sell a ballot question. That’s why the governor is already working on a Plan B for a re-vamped Emergency Manager Law after the election, in case the EM Law is overturned.

Laura Bush to appear at Romney campaign event in Livonia

Oct 26, 2012
Be the Change, Inc. / flickr

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has shown a renewed interest in Michigan with recent visits from Chris Christie, Ann Romney, and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Former first lady Laura Bush looks to be the next in line as she is scheduled to appear at a campaign event this Sunday in Livonia.

The Detroit News has more:

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra on "Michigan Calling"

Oct 26, 2012
Michigan Radio

This morning, former Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra stopped by Michigan Radio's studios to talk with host Rick Pluta and callers from around the state.

Topics covered included energy policy, foreign policy in the Middle East, trade policy with China, and, of course, jobs.

You can listen to the conversation above.

Be sure to listen to last week's conversation with incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

The state budget director says credit agencies won’t upgrade Michigan’s rating because of proposals on the November ballot.

John Nixon today spoke alongside opponents of Proposal Five. It would require a statewide vote or two-thirds majorities of the Legislature to approve a tax increase.

But Nixon said all the initiatives cast doubt about the state’s economic future.

Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists was in Grand Rapids and will be in Kalamazoo tonight to ask people to vote in favor of Proposition 3. In an essay Knobloch called it "the most important clean energy vote this year".

Flickr/jnn1776

Recently, there was a protest rally in Southwest Detroit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement over raids and deportation, and what’s seen as overreach by ICE officials. Non-citizens can't legally vote, but how does the heightened sense of tension impact the Latino vote here in Michigan? Also, the Latino community is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the state. Should there be more Latino representation among lawmakers? Jennifer White talks with Laurence Garcia, an attorney, and the Chairman of the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan.

The rules lawmakers in Lansing play by could change after November 6.

That's when you will decide on six statewide ballot proposals.

Proposal 1 is a referendum on the state's Emergency Manager Law.

Proposals 2 through 6 seek to amend the state's Constitution.

Voters in Michigan have not been faced with this many proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution since 1978, when they decided on nine amendments.

So is the state constitution a good place to make these changes?

NOAA

The candidates looking to represent Michigan’s northernmost congressional seat call the Great Lakes the “jewel of the Midwest” and a “treasure of immeasurable value.” Both say they’re committed to keeping the lakes healthy. But they vehemently disagree about the best ways to do that.

Climb the lighthouse tower at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula  -- where the two Grand Traverse bays meet … and look out over rocks and exposed bottomlands.

The shallow surf dried up years ago and levels on Lake Michigan are now at near-record lows.

Immortalpoet / Flickr

This week on It’s Just Politics we take a look at Michigan’s Supreme Court races.

State Supreme Court candidates appear on the non-partisan part of the ballot with no hint of party-affiliation, except if a candidate is an incumbent. But these justices are initially nominated by political parties at conventions. It’s slightly bizarre. The idea was the political parties would do the initial vetting, but then the candidates – and the Supreme Court – would be independent of partisan influence. As a matter of fact, an incumbent Supreme Court justice can nominate himself or herself without having to win at a party convention. Justice Charles Levin used to do that that until he retired in 1996. However, this hasn’t happened since, largely because of money.

The Supreme Court nominees don’t get the benefit of straight-ticket voting. But they do get all the other benefits of major party nominations. The Republican and Democratic parties and their kindred interest groups spend millions of dollars to get their candidates elected to the Supreme Court. Those kindred interests are business groups, the insurance industry for Republicans; the trial bar for Democrats. The campaigns go largely unnoticed, but they’re fierce, even personal sometimes.

There was the “sleeping judge” ad in 2008 that depicted then-Chief Justice Cliff Taylor as someone who slept through arguments (which wasn’t true). The ad helped make Taylor the first sitting justice to lose his job in an election in something like a quarter century. One year, Republicans ran an ad against a Democrat that showed this shady character’s shifty eyes and said as a judge, he favored lenient treatment for all kinds of horrid criminals. And, just this year, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said Republican Justice Stephen Markman would be sympathetic as a judge to Jerry Sandusky, the assistant Penn State coach charged with child molestation.

Teamsters Local 299 has agreed with Matty Moroun to support Proposal 6.
Steffen Norgren / flickr

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has secured the support of Michigan’s 5,000-member Teamsters Local 299 for Proposal 6.

Proposal 6 would amend the state Constitution to require a statewide vote before Michigan constructs or finances any new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles.

The Moroun-backed amendment is opposed to Governor Snyder’s New International Trade Crossing.

States with supermajority requirements for tax increases. Mich. has a supermajority requirement for raising property taxes. If Proposal 5 passes, Mich. would join the states in gray with the most restrictive taxing policies.
Citizens Research Council of Michigan

State legislators play the game. Michigan voters will set the rules.

The playing field for Michigan lawmakers could change significantly after Nov. 6, if voters approve any one of five constitutional amendments on the ballot.

The "bed sheet ballot" is something California voters are used to, but Michigan voters haven't seen this many proposed constitutional amendments since 1978, when voters faced 9 proposed amendments.

We're posting on all the proposals seeking to amend the Constitution.

Odds are that when you vote three weeks from now, you’ll be voting for some of the people I am about to name:  Michael Busuito, a plastic surgeon from Troy.  Lupe Ramos-Montigny. Todd Courser and Melanie Kurdys. Melanie Foster and Brian Mosallam. Satish Jasti and Shauna Ryder Diggs. She‘s a dermatologist, by the way, from Grosse Pointe.

I‘ll bet you didn‘t know that, but don’t feel bad. Neither did I, until I looked it up this morning. I‘d also bet that you probably haven‘t heard of most or all of those people either, right?

With just 25 days to go before the Presidential election, and a week since the first Presidential debate, a few pollsters and at least one analyst are putting Michigan into swing-state territory even though, as we’ve noted before, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state.

This week, Michigan enjoyed a round of visits from top flight presidential candidate surrogates starting with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday. And, just today, we saw Anne Romney stumping for her husband, Mitt Romney, in the couple’s native-state.

So, the question remains, after five presidential election cycles with Michigan falling into the Democratic column, is Michigan an actual battleground state in 2012?

The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics says so. A Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the Obama lead shrinking since last week’s debate and a Gravis Marketing poll also puts the race for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes much closer than it has been. President Obama still leads, according to these surveys, but the momentum is moving toward Mitt Romney.

And, as we’ve said before, Michigan seems like it should be attainable for the GOP. It’s not like a Republican can’t get elected here statewide. Just ask Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

But, aside from the Real Clear Politics call, no one else is really putting Michigan into that list of eight or nine states that are the focus of the fiercest competition (states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa). And, we’re certainly not seeing a big re-allocation of resources by the campaigns that would suggest things are changing in the mitten state.

One question that gets bandied about is: if Michigan isn’t a battleground state, then why are high profile campaign surrogates making regular stops here? Well, there are lots of reasons why candidates and their surrogates visit a state – fundraising, a quick visit to make sure a safe state stays that way. But President Obama hasn’t been here since April; Romney since August. In fact, this was the first time in decades that neither presidential candidate themselves visited Michigan during the entire month of September. In 2004, George W. Bush made John Kerry work for Michigan, which maybe meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time and money in places like Ohio and Florida – true swing states with lots of electoral votes.

Concept NITC Drawing
NITC

Mickey Blashfield, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun's director of government relations and head of the Moroun-financed group "The People Should Decide" released a statement following a report from the Detroit Free Press on a possible deal between the UAW and Moroun.

The Ambassador Bridge.
Lester Graham

Proposal 6 was introduced by the owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge as a direct reply to the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC).

The new bridge was first proposed in 2004, after a long-term study highlighting the need for a new crossing was commissioned by the Border Transportation Partnership--a coalition of Canadian and American transportation authorities.

It would be sited two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge and would connect directly to the Canadian highway.

Nathan Boomey and Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press have a report on a "2 for 6" deal between the UAW and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. 'You support my proposal.... I'll support yours.' Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is following up on this report.

Anna Strumillo / fotopedia

Under the federally-funded Home Help Services Program, qualifying elderly or disabled residents of Michigan are eligible to receive in-home assistance with personal care and household chores.

Participants of the program have discretion in the hiring and firing of home health aides, and have their services paid for by Medicaid funds administered through the Michigan departments of Community Health and Human Services.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, not everybody in your virtual circle of friends shares the same political beliefs as you.

Jennifer White talks with Cliff Lampe, Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He gives some tips on how to survive social media, especially Facebook during this election season.

Take a vacation from social media

“If for instance, you were ever thinking about trying out Pinterest, now might be the time because there you’ll see a lot of pictures of cupcakes and dresses, and very few political campaign messages. Or if you were thinking about trying out Instagram and sharing your photos with people. So, this might be a great time to try another site and explore that for a little bit,” Lampe said.

Hide posts if you must, but try to embrace political differences

Oakland County Michigan

2012 just may go down as the year of election fraud in Michigan.  After scandals involving Jase Bolger and Thad McCotter, now it's the case of the two John Scotts.

The elder Scott is the Republican commissioner of Oakland County. He says this summer he heard about another John Scott, this one a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student,  who was gathering signatures to get on the ballot as an independent. 

Update 4:19 p.m.

There will be no citizenship checkbox on ballot applications for Michigan voters this November.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said she won’t challenge a federal judge’s ruling that the citizenship question is unconstitutional because the election is getting so close.

She did say there could be further legal action after the election.

Johnson says she also intends to press the federal government for naturalization records that would help her clear voter rolls of non-citizens.

Wind power could feature prominently in Michigan energy production if voters amend the state constitution to include a new renewable energy standard.
cwwycoff1 / flickr

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) promote the use of renewable energy by requiring that a minimum percentage or amount of energy sold in a state come from sources like wind, solar, biomass, or hydropower. 

There are currently 29 states with some sort of RPS in place. Michigan is one of them. 

Michigan’s current standard, passed by the legislature in 2008, calls for 10 percent of retail electricity sales to be derived from renewable sources by 2015.

The candidates for Oakland County Commissioner in the 5th District.
Oakland Co.

Voters in Oakland Co. will see two John Scott's on their ballot this November; one an incumbant Republican, the other an Independent.

The race for Oakland Co. Commissioner in District 5 is between John Scott (R), Alexandria Riley (D), and John Scott (I).

The Oakland County prosecutor's office says it plans to charge John Scott (I) with election fraud over alleged petition-gathering irregularities.

Chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton says a misdemeanor election fraud warrant would be issued today in Waterford District Court against the independent candidate for commissioner.

John Scott (I) is a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student from West Bloomfield Township.

The incumbent John Scott (R) says his namesake opponent is trying to confuse the election process.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Commissioner Scott said several of his strong supporters had signed the petitions. When he called them to find out more, he learned John Scott was listed as the circulator on some of the petitions, but the people who signed them said a woman had solicited the signature.

Such tactics constitute misdemeanor election fraud, which carries a 93-day maximum jail sentence, said Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton. The warrant will be issued in Waterford District Court today.

Back in July, the incumbent Republican Oakland County Commissioner promised to challenge his namesakes petition gathering tactics.

From the Oakland Press:

Commissioner Scott is seeking a sixth two-year term in a newly drawn district representing parts of Waterford and West Bloomfield townships.

The commissioner says the other Scott’s filing “is just to confuse the election process."

“Naturally we’ll challenge this,” the commissioner said. “It’s fraudulent because there’s friends of mine signing petitions thinking it’s me.”

Back in July, John Scott (I) said he wasn't aware of the issue, “I didn’t really know who was running at first. I just wanted to get my name on the ballot.”

Scott (I) declined to speak with the Detroit Free Press about the issue.

In the lead up to the November elections we’re hearing a lot about different voting blocs.

Well, the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has released a detailed presidential election summary and legislative scorecard focused on issues of concern for Muslims here in Michigan.

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