Election 2012

Citizenship question easiest one to answer when I vote

Aug 10, 2012

When I voted on Tuesday, there were several things I needed to know. 

The toughest thing was figuring out who to vote for among all of the candidates for several obscure township boards and lower-level county offices.  These people do important things, but their work is almost entirely below the radar-level of most media.  Their names, and even the offices they hold, are relatively unknown.  It is sometimes hard to even know, without help from the ballot, whether I’m voting for just one candidate, or “two of five” names, or even all four of just four names on the ballot.

CedarBendDrive/flickr

Every Thursday, Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks Michigan politics with Susan Demas, Political Analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week, Michigan's primary election results were not very surprising, but Sikkema says, it's an unusual election year, nonetheless. Plus, they explore what happens next, now that Public Act 4, Michigan's Emergency Manger Law is suspended.

Michigan Radio

Here's a selected list of the August Primary Election results.  Follow the links on the names of many of the candidates to read more about them. Winners are in bold.

Senate Race

Friends of Roy Schmidt / royschmidt.org/

State Representative Roy Schmidt has won in the 76th District State House GOP primary over write-in candidate Bing Goei.

Goei entered the race a few weeks before the primary, and looked like he might outpace Schmidt throughout the night.

In the end, Schmidt defeated Goei with the absentee ballots that were cast before his involvement in a political scandal with House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) became public knowledge.

Rogers for Congress / rogersforcongress.com/

Reports show that Representative Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) has won decisively in the GOP primary, closing out with a whopping 86 percent of votes counted.

Republican candidates Brian Hetrick of Brighton and Holly resident Vernon Molnar finished far behind Rogers, winning 9 and 5 percent, respectively.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Institute of Arts millage easily passed in Oakland and Wayne Counties, and squeaked by in Macomb County, with a .5 percent difference once all the votes were counted.

The Detroit Free Press reports supporters of the DIA ran a $2.5 million campaign to pass the millage.

More from the Freep:

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / peters.house.gov

As most polls predicted, incumbent Gary Peters beat out another incumbent, Hansen Clarke, in the Democratic race for the U.S. House of Representatives in the state's 14th district.

With almost all of the votes in, Peters had 12 points on Clarke.

Both candidates are technically incumbents, due to redistricting.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek explains,

user Tqycolumbia / Wikimedia Commons

In the 12th District U.S. House of Representatives democratic primary, incumbent John Dingell is ahead of opponent Daniel Marcin by 58 points with most of the votes counted.

Dingell is the longest-serving member of the United States House of Representatives in history. If he is reelected this November, it will be his 30th term.

On the Republican side, the race is much closer.  Cynthia Kallgren and Karen Jacobsen are neck-and-neck, with 65 percent of the votes tallied.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

John Conyers Jr. for Congress / www.johnconyers.com/

With more than half of the precincts reporting, incumbent congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit) has defeated four candidates to win the Democratic primary.

Reports show Conyers winning by a sizeable margin, with almost 60 percent of the votes counted in his favor. State senator Glenn Anderson finished a distant second, with 13 percent.

Kerry Bentivolio for Congress / BentivolioForCongress.com

Kerry Bentivolio raced ahead of former Senator Nancy Cassis in the 11th U.S. House District Republican primary race.

Cassis, a Novi-native, trailed Bentivolio by 30 points, with 70 percent of the votes counted. Bentivolio is a teacher and reindeer farmer from Milford, and the only Republican candidate who actually appeared on the ballot. Cassis ran her campaign as a write-in, after declaring her candidacy following the resignation of incumbent Thaddeus McCotter.

On the Democratic side of the primary, physician Syed Taj led LaRouche Democrat William Roberts, 61-39.

user Connormah / Wikimedia Commons

Tim Walberg, the current U.S. Representative for Michigan's 7th congressional district, won the Republican nomination for reelection.

With a little more than half of the votes counted, Walberg led candidate Dan Davis by 52 points.

Walberg also served as Congressman for the district from 2007 to 2009.

Update 11:45 p.m.

With 81 percent of precincts reporting, Newport resident Kurt Haskell has defeated Jackson County Democratic Party Chairman Ruben Marquez to win the Democratic nomination, finishing 66-34.

He will face Rep. Walberg for the Michigan 7th District congressional seat up for grabs in November.

Check back in with Michigan Radio for more election updates.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Upton for Us All / FredUpton.com

Incumbent congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) has won the GOP primary for the 6th U.S. House district against Republican candidate Jack Hoogendyk.

Representative Upton will face Democratic challenger Mike O'Brien (D-Douglas) for his current seat in the general election.

The latest numbers showed Upton leading Hoogendyk 66 percent to 34 percent, with more than half of the precincts reporting.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Peter Hoekstra won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, defeating three other candidates.

With 18 percent of the precincts reporting, Holland-native Hoekstra was ahead of his opponents by more than 20 points.

The Free Press reports most polls favored Hoekstra over the other contenders.

nopsa.hiit.fi

UPDATE:

Reports of voters being turned away because they declined to check a box asking them to verify U.S. citizenship have been coming in from several areas of the state.

Michigan Radio first became aware of the situation when talking to Michigan Campaign Finance Network's Rich Robinson who said he was refused a ballot because he would not check the box. He refused because it is not legally required.  Other media sources picked up on the story. (see Free Press)

Other political groups received calls from voters complaining they had been refused the right to vote after declining to check the citizenship box.

Chad Livengood with the Detroit News reported:

Today is primary election day, and if you haven’t voted yet, I wish you would, even if there is only one race you care about.

Most of us won’t vote. Bill Ballenger, who has been closely watching politics in this state for half a century, predicts that less than one-fifth of Michigan’s registered voters are going to vote today.

Sadly, I don’t think he is wrong. That bothers me for a lot of reasons, one of which is that when I was twelve years old, three college students were tortured and murdered in Mississippi for trying to register people to vote.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Boost for Detroit neighborhoods, schools

Governor Snyder was in Detroit yesterday to kick off an intensive neighborhood stabilization effort. It will focus on 3 neighborhoods, anchored by 9 Detroit schools.  Sarah Cwiek reports:

The effort kicked off outside Clark Preparatory Academy in Detroit’s Morningside neighborhood, on the city’s east side. Morningside is one of three communities that will get state help to demolish the abandoned homes dotting the neighborhood, and clean up the area. Lansing also plans to send in some state police patrols, and will put social workers in the neighborhood schools.

Governor Snyder says Detroit must strengthen its neighborhoods if the city is to truly come back.

“That’s the goal. We’re doing this because we believe it will work, and we want to get good experience and do continuous improvement, and then continue to ramp up the program.”

The state is putting $10 million into the effort so far, and Snyder says more could become available. City officials say the state helps supplement existing blight eradication programs.

 Republican Senate candidates hold primary season debate

Three Republicans running for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination appeared together yesterday in their only televised debate of this primary season. Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, charter school executive Clark Durant, and former judge Randy Hekman are running. Rick Pluta reports:

If what I am about to tell you doesn’t make you angry and indignant, then you must be  completely cynical.

Huge corporations and other special interests have already spent $20 million on ballot drives designed to bend the  Michigan Constitution to suit their selfish needs.

They have spent $20 million; they’ve raised almost $30 million, and every sign indicates they’re just getting started.

These numbers, by the way, come from the  non-profit, non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Immortal Poet / Flickr

A state elections board will meet today to finalize the Sept. 5 special primary that will narrow the field of candidates running to complete the term of Congressman Thad McCotter. The Livonia Republican resigned suddenly on July 6.

The board will also make decisions about half a dozen petition drives that turned in signatures to put questions on the November ballot.

The four-person, bipartisan Board of State Canvassers will set deadlines for people and groups to file any objections to the proposed ballot questions. The proposed amendments to the state constitution deal with energy policy, union rights, taxes, casinos, and a new international bridge in Detroit.

The board has until September to act on any challenges to the questions.

One thing the board will not do is deal with a lower court order to place referendum on the November ballot. The measure seeks to repeal the state’s emergency manager law. The issue must first be dealt with by the state Supreme Court – which holds a hearing this week on whether a dispute about type size on a petition is enough to keep the question off the ballot.

Kerry Bentivolio
Kerry Bentivolio / http://bentivolioforcongress.com

Democrat Dave Curson, and Republicans Kerry Bentivolio, Kenneth Crider, Steve King, Carolyn Kavanagh and Nancy Cassis all say they have filed enough valid signatures to run in the special election to fill the remainder of U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's congressional seat, according to the the Detroit News.

The deadline for filing signatures was 4 p.m. today.

After McCotter abruptly resigned from his seat in Detroit’s 11th Congressional district, he left a gap between his absence and the end of his term in early January. 

In order to fill the gap, Gov. Rick Snyder's office called for a special question to appear on the November ballot, in which 11th District voters will decide on a candidate to finish out the remaining six weeks of McCotter's term.

On the same ballot, these constituents will vote again for whom they want to serve the following term beginning January 3, 2013.  The deadline for candidates to file for that election has already passed.

A primary for the special election could be held on September 5, if more than one candidate from either party file enough signatures.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
USDA.gov

Tea Party favorite Gary Glenn announced yesterday that he is bowing out of the Republican race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by two-term Democrat Debbie Stabenow and that he'll throw his support behind Clark Durant. The Associated Press reports:

The Ann Arbor District Library wants a new building downtown.
AADL / Facebook

Ann Arbor residents can add a new tax levy to the growing list of issues on the November ballot.

The local library board wants $65 million for a new downtown building.

After 60 years, the Ann Arbor library's main branch has done its job, according to the board. 

But now they say they're running out of space, so they want to tear down and rebuild on the same site.

The plan would mean a 30-year tax hike. It would add roughly $54 dollars to the annual tax bill of anyone with a home worth $200,000.

If residents vote no, it would be the first time in 20 years the town's rejected a tax increase for the library.

The four most famous words that Mitt Romney never wrote are, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

You read that right.  Mitt Romney never wrote those words.  They were the headline of a New York Times op-ed column that was authored by Romney and published in the newspaper on November 18, 2008.

I doubt that most people could accurately recite so much as a sentence of the op-ed that Governor Romney actually wrote in that column.  All that anybody remembers is the headline, which I have discovered was written by a New York Times editor, not Governor Romney.

The Doctor Is In

Jul 17, 2012

Four years ago, Dr. Syed Taj, then chief of medicine at Dearborn’s Oakwood Hospital, decided to run for Canton Township trustee. His friends tried to talk him out of it. He had only lived there a year, and he was a Democrat. The affluent Wayne County area is pretty Republican. Taj is also a Muslim-American whose musical voice is rich with the accents of his native India.

Most figured he didn’t have a chance. But he won overwhelmingly. Though he was the only Democrat to win a seat on the board, he got more votes than anyone else.

“Most people trust their doctor,” Taj said, chuckling. Now, Taj is running for Congress from the Eleventh District, which tends to lean Republican. He is, once again, an underdog. But he is used to that -- and his chances improved when the incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, mysteriously failed to qualify for the ballot and suddenly resigned.

Throughout the last decade, there was always speculation that a Democrat could win the 11th district, but the party tended to run lackluster and underfunded candidates. This time, it may be even harder. Redistricting has made the district slightly more Republican.

Ballotopia. Ballotmania. Ballotpalooza: These are all nicknames given to the situation that we’re seeing right now as various groups and organizations try to get Michigan voters, come November, to amend the state's constitution. On Election Day, we could see up to six ballot proposals and a referendum on the state’s  controversial Emergency Manager law. If all of these ballot proposals are, indeed, approved this would be the most statewide ballot questions on a single election day since 1982.

Grassroots campaigns? Not so much

It's nice to think that, in our democracy, these ballot campaigns are being led by grassroots groups - regular folks - trying to change their state's law. But, that's  not the case in this election cycle. Each  of these ballot initiatives have backers - some business groups, some union groups - with deep pockets. It costs a lot of money to organize these campaignsand to get people into the field to gather signatures. In fact, that’s why we saw some ballot campaigns fizzle this summer like the group trying to get a question about marijuana legalization on the ballot.

Just Say "No"

The deadline for these ballot campaigns to submit to the state enough valid signatures - more than 320,000 -  was Monday.  And, in the midst of the petition filings,  we saw some push back against "ballotmania. A "just-say-no" to every ballot question campaign has popped up. It's a coalition of businesses that thinks the easiest way to kill everything they don’t like, especially the ballot questions dealing with unionization – these have to deal with constitutionally protecting collective bargaining rights - and a mandate that the state increase the amount of energy it gets from alternative sources to 25 percent by 2025, is blanket opposition.

Be Careful What You Wish for...

At first glance, it seems like business groups would be in favor of some of these ballot questions, like the amendment that would require super-majorities in both the state House and Senate to raise taxes. Seems simple, right? Businesses tend to not like taxes, but there is some concern in the business community that a super-majority requirement for new taxes could actually make it harder to cut taxes. That's because, typically, when the Legislature cuts or eliminates a tax, it has to come up with some replacement for that lost revenue. Even something that’s considered a net tax cut – like last year's elimination of the Michigan Business Tax or this year's tax on industrial equipment  – required the state Legislature and Governor Snyder to replace some of that revenue. If lawmakers had had to meet a higher bar for other revenue – like last year’s  controversial tax on pension income – they couldn’t have touched the business or industrial equipment tax.

user mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday, we look at Michigan politics on Michigan Radio's Political Roundup.

This week, Michigan Radio's Jennifer White was joined by Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Debbie Dingell, political analyst and member of the Democratic National Committee to discuss the questions that may appear on this November's ballot.

This week, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed to take up the question of whether a referendum on Public Act 4, the emergency manager law, should appear on the November ballot.

Immortalpoet / Flickr

Today is the deadline for ballot campaigns to turn in their petitions. A total of six questions and a referendum have filed to appear on the November ballot. One of the questions up for voter approval would require two-thirds super-majorities for the Legislature to increase a tax.

Brighton Township Treasurer Lana Theis is leading the ballot drive. She says it should be easier to lower taxes than it is to increase them.

“If you ask the average homeowner, who do you think knows how to spend your money better – you or Lansing? It’s a very, very simple question, it should be the case that it has to cross party lines, and it has to be a super-majority not a simple majority," she said.

Another drive to protect collective bargaining rights for home health aides who are paid by Medicaid also filed today petitions. An amendment to stop a new publicly owned Detroit international bridge is also expected to file this afternoon.

A ballot drive to ban a gas drilling process known as “fracking” did not make the deadline and will focus now on the 2014 ballot.

mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Republicans in the Legislature got a bit of a surprise this week when Gov. Snyder vetoed three of the 14 new bills related to voting. What would those three vetoed bills have done?

I don’t know how Governor Snyder celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday, but I have a strong hunch he didn’t stop by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s place for some barbecue.

The Governor stunned the secretary and other fellow Republicans Tuesday by vetoing three election bills. He said he feared they might be confusing.

“Voting rights are precious and we need to work especially hard to make it possible for people to vote,” he said.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a reduction in the state income tax.

Last year, Gov. Snyder and the Legislature delayed a reduction in the income tax rate to January 1 of 2013. This measure moves it up a little. Now, the rate will drop -- slightly -- to 4.25 percent on October first. There will also be an increase in the personal exemption.

Democrats say the tax relief offered is a pittance – about 50 cents a week – compared to the dozen tax breaks for working poor households, homeowners, and seniors on pensions that were eliminated last year as part of a Republican-led tax overhaul. That did not stop most from voting for the rollback.  

Republican leaders say the economy – and, therefore, revenue – has improved enough for the state to afford a tax cut. It also happens to coincide with an election year. The two Republican sponsors of the tax rollback come from competitive districts.

Every week in It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta and I sit down and take a look at what's been making news in state politics. On tap for this week's extended edition: the Romney campaign shifts its economic message as state economies see improvement, Vagina-gate continues at the state Capitol, Democrats in the state's 76th District find a candidate to run against former-Democratic Rep. Roy Schmidt, we update the latest news on the state's many ballot proposals, and remember two state lawmakers who recently passed away.

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