Election 2012

Politics
8:04 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Actress Lisa Chan apologizes for role in Hoekstra Super Bowl ad

Images from the Pete Hoekstra Super Bowl ad.
Mark Brush images from YouTube

The actress featured in Pete Hoekstra's Super Bowl ad that sparked charges of racism has apologized.

Hoekstra, who is vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, first attempted to defend the ad, but later pulled it down after the outcry.

Lisa Chan posted the apology yesterday on her Facebook page:

"I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions."

Hoekstra, the front runner for the Republican nomination, was hoping the ad would draw attention to his campaign. It did - just the wrong kind of attention. The Hill reports the  "Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling, shows Stabenow up 51 percent to 37 percent. That's an increase over the 9-point lead she held in their July poll."

Politics
11:56 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Voters' rights groups oppose Michigan's election law changeup

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called for some new election rules to discourage vote fraud.
usesr muffet Flickr

The state Senate has approved some prospective changes in Michigan voting laws.

The measures would require training for people who register voters, and make people who pick up absentee ballots show a photo ID or sign an affidavit affirming their identity.

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called for some new election rules to discourage vote fraud.

“Michigan has a good election system, a very good election system, but we want to improve that even more,” said Ruth Johnson’s spokesman Fred Woodhams.

The measures have raised concerns with voter-rights advocates.

Read more
Commentary
10:46 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Romney and the Bailout

Usually, journalists are sent press releases before political events, because the organizers want reporters to cover them. Monday, I got one about an event that was already over.

That would normally strike me as a trifle unusual, until I saw that it was from the Green Party of Michigan. They had a meeting last weekend in Bay City which they said was “charged with enthusiasm.“

What did they talk about? Well, among other things, quote “the unrest palpable among the lower echelons of society.” and the “once-dismissed voters who opted to eschew either,” major party nominee.

Read more
Politics
9:48 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Republican presidential contenders plan Michigan events

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Republican presidential contenders are turning more of their attention to Michigan ahead of the state's Feb. 28 presidential primary.

Mitt Romney is scheduled to be in Grand Rapids on Wednesday for a roundtable and rally at furniture maker Compatico Inc. The Michigan native also is scheduled to speak Thursday at a Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce event in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum speaks Thursday to the Detroit Economic Club at Cobo Center in Detroit. Later that day he's scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Oakland County Lincoln Day Dinner in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

Other events are expected leading up to the primary.

Newsmaker
4:08 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Presidential Primary, Democrats casting "crossover" vote?

Mark Brewer, chair of Michigan's Democratic Party.
User: Jeremy Peters / flickr

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is only two weeks away.

On February 28, Republicans and Democrats can go out and vote for their nominee for President. That’s because Michigan is what you’d call an “open state.” Once you get to the polls all you have to do is request either a Republican or Democrat ballot.

Eleven Republican presidential candidates are on the ballot so far. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat.

Read more
Commentary
11:20 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Will Mitt Romney Lose?

The headlines were horrifying yesterday for Mitt Romney supporters. One new poll had Romney trailing Rick Santorum in Michigan, Romney’s birthplace, by six points -- thirty-three to twenty-seven. The other poll was worse. It had Romney behind by fifteen points -- thirty-nine to twenty-four. Those are staggering numbers. And anything but the kind of Valentine the former Massachusetts governor expected to receive. How could this be?

Read more
Politics
12:01 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Rick Santorum tops new poll of likely Republican presidential primary voters

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum
(celebrityhotnews.com)

Rick Santorum is leading in a new poll of likely Republican presidential primary voters in Michigan.   The primary is in two weeks. 

A poll by Public Policy Polling finds 39% of likely primary voters (70% Republicans/30% Democrats and Independents) say they support the former Pennsylvania United States Senator.

Read more
Politics
1:35 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Taking a "pure-politics" look at the week's news...

Matthileo Flickr

Rick Pluta and I have been talking state politics on Fridays and today we take a look at Michigan's presidential primary, former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra's controversial TV ad, and Governor Rick Snyder's budget proposal.

Michigan Matters

This was a huge week for Rick Santorum which, in turn, meant it was a big week for Michigan politicos. Michigan and Arizona hold the nation’s next primaries on February 28 (Maine holds a caucus tomorrow). That means the Republican candidates will be looking to Michigan for their next win. On Wednesday, Santorum told MSNBC that, “we think Michigan is a great place for us to plant our flag and talk about jobs and manufacturing.” For Santorum, his campaign needs to continue the momentum before Super Tuesday (on March 6) to be considered a serious threat to Romney. Romney, meanwhile, needs a win in Michigan to stop Santorum's momentum. Newt Gingrich will be hoping for a win in Michigan, although it’s unlikely after Tuesday night’s results, and Ron Paul will hope for a decent showing in the mitten state.

“Will Romney win? That sure seems to be where the smart money goes. But are there opportunities to make sure it’s not a [Romney] domination? That opportunity does seem to exist,” Pluta explains. Pluta and I recently explored what some of those opportunities are.

The Super Bowl ad that had many saying, "huh?"

We couldn’t talk about the week’s political news without mentioning the controversy that continues over Republican Senatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra’s campaign ad that premiered last Sunday in which an Asian woman speaks in broken English. The ad was called “racially insensitive” and “xenophobic” and it’s even been parodied by the website FunnyOrDie.com. Now, the Hoekstra campaign is out with another ad, this time it doesn’t mention China. And, one of Hoekstra’s opponents in the Republican Senatorial primary, Clark Durant, premiered an ad of his own. “Durant saw an opportunity, decided not to wait to run his first ad of the campaign… and it’s a lot more positive [than the Hoekstra ad] and… the subtle message is, ‘we’re better than this,’” Pluta notes.

A kinder, gentler budget

Finally, Pluta and I take a look at the politics behind the budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 that was unveiled by the Governor yesterday at the state Capitol. Unlike last year, this year the budget is, “very, very different… It is a much kinder, gentler budget.”

Read more
Commentary
10:48 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Michigan's Presidential Primary Sweepstakes

Three days ago, it seemed that Michigan’s presidential primary would be regarded as kind of a sleepy afterthought. Mitt Romney’s campaign was once again relentlessly sailing on, after having demolished Newt Gingrich in Florida.

Since this was Romney’s birthplace, and had voted for him enthusiastically four years ago, he seemed unlikely to be seriously challenged here. Nor was he apt to get much momentum out of victory in a state where his father was an iconic governor years ago.

Read more
Election 2012
6:57 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Santorum’s three-state sweep means Michigan’s primary is relevant

Headlines across the country are proclaiming big news from last night’s primary and caucuses in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. Headlines like Santorum revives his campaign with wins and Santorum’s Sweep Shakes up Race make it clear: Rick Santorum had a pretty darn good Tuesday night. The former U.S. Senator won all three states in play.

Although, no delegates were assigned, Santorum has something else: momentum. “Together, the three states voting Tuesday will eventually award 128 delegates. But Missouri was a ‘beauty contest’ with no delegates at stake, while Minnesota and Colorado were nonbinding events with delegates to be chosen this spring. At stake Tuesday night was the prestige of winning. And Santorum nailed down three upsets to restore an air of viability to his candidacy,” the Washington Post explains. The Post continues:

Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before nextmonth’s major contests. Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney.

 

Read more
Election 2012
12:22 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Mitt Romney to speak at the Detroit Economic Club

Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak at the Detroit Economic Club.
David Markland Flickr

The Detroit Economic Club says Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to address the group a few days before Michigan's primary.

The club says in a posting on its website that Romney is scheduled to appear at a midday event Feb. 24 at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel.

Michigan's presidential primary is Feb. 28.

The club says a limited number of tickets will be available to attend the Michigan native's speech. Details are posted on the club's website.

Election 2012
3:58 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

China-bashing is nothing new in Michigan politics

Mandiberg Flickr

Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra wants to be your next Senator. He’s currently running in the GOP primary to try and unseat Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. Hoekstra’s campaign premiered a controversial ad yesterday that’s being called, “xenophobic,” “racially-insensitive” and a “mistake;” Hoekstra calls the ad, in which a young Chinese woman speaks broken English and thanks Senator Stabenow (in the ad, Stabenow is referred to as “Senator Spend-it-now") for helping the Chinese economy, “aggressive.”

As the political pundits are debating whether or not the ad is detrimental to the Hoekstra campaign – one thing is for sure: China-bashing is nothing new in Michigan.

While Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I usually talk state politics on Fridays, we just couldn’t ignore this story. So, take a listen as we dissect the ad and take a look back at past political ads that have targeted various politicians and their relationships with China.

And, for some visuals,  here are a few attack ads from the 2006 Michigan gubernatorial campaign:

Read more
Election 2012
6:50 am
Mon February 6, 2012

New Hoekstra campaign ad brings charges of xenophobia

Former West Michigan Congressman Peter Hoekstra wants to become the Republican candidate to run against U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in November.
Republican Conference Flickr

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoesktra's campaign aired a new television ad against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow last night during the Super Bowl. In the 30 second ad, a young woman of Asian decent speaks in broken English and calls Stabenow, "Debbie Spend-it-now."

The Associated Press reports that the ad is, "bringing charges of racial insensitivity. GOP consultant Nick De Leeuw flat-out scolded the Holland Republican for the ad calling it 'appalling.' De Leeuw opposes Democrat Stabenow's re-election but adds that "racism and xenophobia" aren't the way to go. Hoekstra's Facebook page says that those "trying to make this an issue of race demonstrates their total ignorance of job creation policies."

In the ad, the young woman says," Thank you Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow. Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."

Though the ad aired during the Super Bowl less than 12 hours ago, in this age of instant web-based reaction, political pundits and reporters have already written dozens of articles about the spot:

Politics
4:21 pm
Sat February 4, 2012

Michigan Dems will have 2 chances to support Obama

The Michigan Democratic Party is changing course and allowing Democrats to vote in the Feb. 28 presidential primary and also participate in the May caucus. The change was announced Saturday. Party Chairman Mark Brewer says there's no need to have President Barack Obama's name on the primary ballot, but the secretary of state insists it must be there under Michigan law.
    

Election 2012
1:23 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

The Michigan Presidential primary is like that scene in Star Wars (kind of)

On Fridays, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I have been taking a look at state politics, we’ve been trying to dig a little deeper beneath the week's political news. And, it sure seemed like one story, in particular, was making all the headlines this week.  Headlines like, “Romney Rebounds with Victory in Florida,” and, “Where Has the Newt-Mentum Gone?”

Just like Star Wars… (Well, sort of)

This week’s 2012 GOP Presidential primary storyline got us thinking about that classic scene from Stars Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi where Princess Leia and Han Solo have been captured by Jabba the Hutt and Luke Skywalker tries to come to their rescue. Things don’t go as planned and Luke ends up captured, too. Trying to gauge the severity of the situation Han asks Luke, “How are we doing?” Luke answers, “The same as always.” Han, with his characteristically dry sense of humor, responds, “that bad, huh?”

“Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and crew sort of made us think of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, coming into the Michigan primary – which is now just about three weeks away – and Gingrich almost seems to be in a position of ‘now, I’ve got them exactly where I want them.’ You know, he’s an underdog, the odds are stacked against him… what Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all seem to be fighting is this aura of inevitability that is surrounding Romney,” Pluta explains.

Okay, so maybe it’s not an exact parallel but Pluta and I, at least, had a reason to watch some scenes from Star Wars. (And, just as a side note, there’s quite a bit in the Star Wars movies that can be compared to American politics. But, that’s a whole different story for a whole different time).

“A couple of weeks is a long time in American Politics.” – Peter Jennings

That well-known saying from Peter Jennings is something I always try to remember as I’m listening to or reading the latest from the political pundits. Yes, Romney surely seems to have the “Big-Mo” (the all-important “momentum” that Pluta and I have discussed before) coming out of Florida, but, let’s play Devil’s Advocate for a minute, shall we? Pluta explains that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there are some reasons that Romney could have a difficult time winning the Michigan primary:

Read more
Politics
6:32 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Vice Pres. Joe Biden visits Grand Rapids this morning

Vice President Joe Biden will visit an American Seating Company factory in Grand Rapids today. Biden is here to, "pitch the administration's plan to reward businesses that bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.," the Associated Press reports. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported earlier this week:

American Seating Company has been making seats for tour busses, trains, and big stadiums for about 125 years. Dave McLaughlin is Vice President and General Sales Manager of Transportation Products Group at American Seating. He’s been working there for 27 years. He says the company is trying not to view Biden’s visit as simply a political event.

“I’m sure there are people that are looking at it as a political event,” McLaughlin said, “We really need help as a nation in rebuilding our manufacturing infrastructure.”

The company employs 500, mostly unionized workers. Most are in Grand Rapids, but all in the United States. McLaughlin says about 75-percent of the company’s goods and services are sourced from companies based in Michigan, Ohio or Indiana.

The Vice President's visit follows President Obama's stop in Ann Arbor last week. The President spoke about the need for college affordability at the University of Michigan on Friday.

TV & Politics
4:47 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

The War Room with Jennifer Granholm: "A show for political junkies"

Current TV

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm starts a new role as television host tonight. Her program, The War Room with Jennifer Granholm premieres tonight at 9/8c on Current TV.

Granholm says because she was an elected official, "I can present some inside information I think that adds value to those who care about politics and policy in 2012.”

Read more
Election 2012
7:50 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Forget about Florida… What about the Michigan primary?

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, or, at least, somewhere where there isn’t radio, television or the internet, you’ve most likely heard MORE than enough about the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the “game-changing” South Carolina primary and, of course, who could forget about tomorrow's all-important Florida primary.

Well, maybe you’re like me and Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta and you feel like Michigan is getting left out of the conversation. Well, fear not, Pluta joined me on Friday to take a look at  Michigan’s Republican primary, scheduled for February 28th.

Romney has got this thing wrapped up... No, he doesn't. Oh wait, yes, he does.

We've got about a month to go before Michigan voters head to the polls for the state's presidential primary and it seems like one day we're hearing that Michigan's primary REALLY matters - that, indeed, the state will be influential in the Republican nominating process. But, then, just when we thought Michigan was important we hear the political pundits take back their political proclamations - claiming that no, in fact, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has got the state wrapped up. "I guess this is further evidence," Pluta says, "that anyone who is allowed to be a pundit should be required to wear something that says 'Don't follow me, I'm lost.'"

Michigan will matter... Really!

"Just a few weeks ago, we were written off," Pluta says, but, "things have changed so much since New Hampshire, we then had the Newt Gingrich surge... called Newtmentum. So, now... everyone is waiting to see what happens in Florida... and, then, we'll come out of that, and we'll go into Colorado and Minnesota - state's that really aren't as big as Michigan - and then, after February 7th, we have 21 days where there's nothing... and then the Michigan and Arizona primaries. And, Michigan WILL matter because momentum is everything going into Super Tuesday which happens shorty after Michigan and Arizona."

It's all about the "Big-Mo"... (Momentum, that is)

It's called the Big-Mo, or Big-Momentum, at least that's what political scientists and campaign strategists call it, and it's important. "I've talked to Republican strategists and they say, in a primary season, everything is about momentum. People are jumping in with whoever is surging and they're dropping off with whoever is lagging and so that's what you really, really want going into that all important Super Tuesday primary and Michigan is going to set the stage for that," Pluta explains. So, the idea is this: win Michigan and you go into Super Tuesday as a strong candidate with the air of inevitability.

Early primary = Fewer delegates

We reported quite a bit, last year, as the Michigan legislature tried to pick a date for the Michigan primary. Republican leaders wanted an early date for the primary - figuring that the earlier in the year the primary was held, the more influence the state would have in the national Republican campaign.

The only problem: Michigan broke the rules by holding an early primary. The date, "violates [Republican] Party rules and that will very likely result in Michigan's delegation to the Republican National Convention to be cut in half but, the [State] Legislature is really dominated by Romney supporters and what they wanted to do was... give Romney an early victory... that creates momentum going forward. It was actually considered more important for Romney to have that early momentum going ahead than to actually rack up as many delegates as he possibly could coming out of Michigan," Pluta explains.

Read more
Politics
2:40 am
Wed January 25, 2012

GOP senate candidates debate bailouts for banks and car companies

Six Republicans hoping to unseat U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow debated an incredible range of issues at a forum organized by the Ottawa County Patriots Tuesday night. This is the second time the presumed front runner, former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, has debated his rivals.

“It’s a great group of candidates. I could vote for any of them,” Bob Carr said after the 2-hour-long forum. Carr is a tea party member who drove more than an hour to Zeeland from Oceana County.

Dozens of the roughly 250 people crammed into the town’s library sport Carr’s own “Dump Debbie” political buttons. Carr says he’s given away around a thousand of them.

Read more
Politics
8:00 pm
Sun January 22, 2012

Tea party group to host GOP senate hopefuls, this time with Hoekstra

Former Congressman Pete Hoesktra is the presumed front runner in the race to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Sentate. The winner will face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Republican Conference Creative Commons

(This post has been updated to clarify Hoekstra's campaign responded to requests for information; adds information.)

A West Michigan tea party group is hosting a major Republican forum this week. All but one candidate running to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate are expected to appear at a debate in West Michigan this week. The nominee will face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow in the general election in November.

Read more

Pages