Election 2012

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The campaign to allow eight new non-tribal casinos in Michigan will have to go back to court to get a spot on the November ballot.

A state elections board deadlocked along party lines on whether to put the question on the ballot, with Democrats supporting the measure.

Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ordered the proposal to protect collective bargaining rights in the state constitution onto the November ballot.

Now, the Michigan Supreme Court will be asked to intervene. The appeals court rejected a challenge to the proposal that claimed it is too sweeping and would affect an untold number of state laws.

Rich Studley is the president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and part of the coalition opposed to the proposal.

 "We are very disappointed with the ruling," he said. "We will keep fighting to protect the constitution and we will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court."

Unions that support the measure say they always expected the case to go all the way to the state Supreme Court.

But they say voters should get to decide a question after more than 600 thousand voters signed petitions to put it on the ballot.

Nick Ciaramitaro is with the American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees.

"Well, we’re happy the Court of Appeals made the decision that the Protect Our Jobs amendment belongs on the ballot and people have the right to vote in the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining," he said.

Ciaramitaro says an appeal by business groups to the state Supreme Court would be no surprise, but he says the courts need to make a final determination very soon.

A state election board has officially certified the results of the August primaries. The Board of State Canvassers also authorized a handful of recounts in close state House races. The state Bureau of Elections anticipates five recounts, which should take place next week.

(They are in Genesee County, Ottawa County, the western UP, and two in Detroit.)

The board now moves on to authorizing or rejecting three petition drives looking to put questions on the November ballot.

The board will first hear a challenge to the campaign to allow eight new non-tribal casinos in Michigan. The other two proposals would require public votes on new international bridges, and to require two-thirds super-majorities before the Legislature could raise taxes.

If you watch much of the Republican National Convention this week, you’ll be in a tiny minority, even though the delegates are nominating a Michigan native with a famous name for President.

In fact, you may have to work hard at finding a network that carries very much of the convention. If you are under forty you may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when all the networks offered gavel-to-gavel coverage of every minute of both major parties’ conventions. They thought it was their civic duty.

The Capitol was vandalized early Thursday morning
user mattileo / flickr

In the Week in Review, Thaddeus McCotter's abrupt resignation last month means there needs to be a special election to fill his spot.

Also, Michigan's a popular place with presidential and vice-presidential candidates this week.

And, ballot petition mania continues, but can the average voter keep up. Michigan Radio's Rina Miller speaks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry.


 

This November, voters in Michigan will be asked to decided on around a half-dozen controversial issues. If the election were held today, the The Detroit News has a breakdown on where things would end up. Polls show the emergency manager law would be upheld, as would collective bargaining rights, and the effort to stop a new international bridge would fail.

It's a "swing-state" edition of It's Just Politics this week. The big political question in the mitten-state currently seems to be "Is Michigan a true battleground - a swing state - in this year's presidential race?" You certainly would not be blamed for thinking so considering all of the campaign love that Michigan got this week.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Detroit on Wednesday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in West Michigan yesterday campaigning on behalf of fellow Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and, just today, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan visited Commerce Township.

Are we a (politically) fickle state?

This level of attention would seem to suggest that Michigan is a battleground state alongside  those perpetual swingers: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Colorado. There are certainly reasons to believe why this could be the case, even though Michigan has gone for the Democratic nominee in the last five presidential cycles. But, if you look back even further, the five cycles before that, Michigan voted for the Republican presidential candidate every time.

It would appear that we are a fickle state. Michigan may be blue, but it elects Republicans in statewide races all the time: Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson – just to name a few. And, even while Democrat Jennifer Granholn was governor, Attorney General Mike Cox and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land were both Republicans.

Interestingly enough, Michigan’s record tilts more heavily toward sending Democrats to Washington D.C.. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are, of course, Democrats. And, in this election cycle, Republican Senate nominee Pete Hoekstra hopes to alter that trend, like Spence Abraham did –albeit for just one term – in 1994.

What do the polls say?

In this year's race, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state, even though Mitt Romney was born in Michigan and his father was governor here. But, just because he can claim "native-son" status, the Romney name does not always equal ballot magic. Romney's brother, Scott Romney, lost his reelection bid to the Michigan State University and his mother Lenore Romney failed in her U.S. Senate bid back in 1970. A former sister in law, Ronna, who ran with the Romney name also lost a Senate race.

A poll was released this week by Foster McCollum White and Associates for the Fox TV station in Detroit that gave Romney a four point lead over President Obama; and a slight lead for Pete Hoesktra over Senator Debbie Stabenow.

But, then, another poll was released this week that put President Obama and Senator Stabenow in the lead. So, it begs the question - which poll is right? The reality is there’s no objective measure for regular folks to use to judge the credibility of a poll. The only reality to compare it to is… other polls.

Is Michigan a swinging state?

So, aside from the polls - the question remains: are we a swing state or not? It would seem if the presidential campaigns didn’t think Michigan was relevant to them in November then they wouldn't be spending so much time here. But, one can argue that there are a whole lot of other reasons why candidates visit a place. Certainly, persuading voters is a big one. Keeping the base energized is another - especially in a year like this when it seems like most people have made up their minds who they want, or who they don’t want in the White House.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Supporters are gathering in Commerce Township, Michigan waiting to hear from Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan. They're scheduled to address the crowd around noon.

More from the Detroit News:

Even before doors were to open at 9:30 a.m., roughly 100 people turned out an hour early at the cider mill as security from Oakland County Sheriff's Department and others were sweeping the area with metal detectors and dogs.

Depending on what the courts decide, Michigan voters in November could be deciding anywhere from one to six ballot proposals, some of which would radically alter the way things work.

Why is there so much uncertainty about what we are going to be voting on, barely two months before the election? The process used to be straightforward. Groups who wanted to put something on the ballot collected signatures. The state then checked to see if they had enough legitimate ones to qualify.

Vice President Joe Biden warns that if Mitt Romney is elected President, the country will return to the “failed policies” that caused a near-economic collapse in 2008.

Biden rallied supporters at Detroit’s Renaissance High School Wednesday. It was a stop on a brief campaign swing through Michigan that also included a fundraiser in West Bloomfield.

Click on Detroit / http://htl.li/d9UeY

Vice President Joe Biden, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, will all make campaign stops in southeast Michigan this week.

Vice President Joe Biden made an afternoon stop in Detroit today, where he held what the Obama Campaign called a grassroots event at Renaissance High School.

Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields introduced Biden to a packed crown in the school's atrium.

UAW sign.
UAW

The Michigan Supreme Court ordered the Court of Appeals to issue a ruling by Monday on whether the "Protect Our Jobs" constitutional amendment proposal should go on the November ballot.

The referendum seeks to to protect collective bargaining rights in Michigan.

From The Detroit News

Once upon a time, the rules of politics were fairly clear. When you got caught in a scandal, you resigned, as gracefully as possible.

That is, unless it happened to be in Japan, where you were expected to kill yourself.

There was also an extremely quaint idea that the cause and your party was more important than you were.

Thirty years ago, I interviewed a candidate for the U.S. Senate who had no realistic chance to win. He wasn’t just a name on the ballot; he was reasonably qualified. I asked him why he was running.

Speaking off the record, he told me he knew he had no chance, unless his opponent were to die. But he was running because he believed the voters deserved a decent choice between ideas. His party had asked him to run. Now, there was the mostly unspoken understanding that if he did this, and did a credible job, they later would see that he was put up for a race he could win.

That, or perhaps appoint him to something. These days, however, we live in a different world. Ayn Rand, once one of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s political heroes, once wrote a book called “The Virtue of Selfishness.”

We are now fully into the silly season in both news and politics, something that commonly happens in late summer and in this point in campaigns, especially perhaps presidential election campaigns.

Michigan Hall of Justice
User Xnatedawgx / Wikimedia Commons

More ballot measure news today as Michigan voters face a November election that will likely include  about a half a dozen ballot measures.

The Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments next week from supporters and opponents of a ballot measure that seeks to add collective bargaining rights for workers into the state constitution.

A group called Protect Our Jobs collected nearly 700,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution challenged the petition, saying the ballot proposal was unconstitutionally broad.

In an order released today, the court says oral arguments in the case will be heard Wednesday in Lansing.

An appeal to the court was made after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 this week on the Protect Our Jobs ballot proposal.

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is hoping a visit from VP candidate Paul Ryan will put pressure on the Obama campaign in Michigan.
Monkeyz_Unkle / Flickr

This week, it’s a trickle down edition of It’s Just Politics. Trickle down: as in how Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate will play down on the rest of the November ballot.

Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is best-known as the author of a controversial budget plan. And, it’s that plan that’s really been driving most political conversations this week which means Paul Ryan is not only Mitt Romney’s running mate, but is on the ticket with every Republican running this year, including Michigan lawmakers.

We’ve seen the Democratic messaging about how the Ryan plan will  end Medicare, "as we know it." In fact, even Romney has said the Ryan budget plan is not his budget plan, but every Republican is, at least, being asked where they stand on it. So, while it may create some problems for congressional candidates – say, a Republican like Dan Benishek in northern Michigan, where there are a lot of seniors, it also allows them to talk about the need for “entitlement reform.”

Speaking of Entitlement Reform…

This week a memo was obtained by the online news site Politico that outlines the new nomenclature that is to be used by Republican candidates when talking about the Ryan budget and federal spending. So, out with “entitlement reform,” “privatization,” and the phrase: “every option is on the table.” Instead, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee suggests these words: “strengthen,” “secure,” “preserve,” “protect.”

Closer to Home

This messaging fits pretty snugly into the campaign narratives that we’ve seen already in Michigan. In congressional races, they’ll talk about Medicare, Social Security, and the nation's debt. In state House races, the issues will be on a parallel track, framed around the unpopular pension tax, funding for schools and roads and what Republicans in Lansing will say were tough, but responsible, decisions to get the state’s budget house in order.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate race, Republicans have been trying for months to make an issue out of the fact that Senate Democrats – including incumbent Debbie Stabenow – still have not approved a permanent federal budget. GOP Senate nominee Pete Hoesktra is trying to hang her with the nickname “Debbie Spends-A-Lot.”

The Hoekstra campaign therefore was no doubt prepped and ready for that “adult conversation” about federal spending going into this week, when it was hit with a blast from the past. A Democratic operative made RollCall.com aware of an interview that Hoekstra had done on WAAM in Ann Arbor in which he comes out against the 17th Amendment – the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. “The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the House of Representatives.  The end result has led to an erosion of states’ rights,” Hokestra explains.

League of Women Voters

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has approved two measures for the November ballot, and deadlocked on a third.

Voters this fall will be able to decide if Michigan should amend the Constitution to require utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025, and whether or not the Constitution should be amended to allow home healthcare workers to unionize.

We are now three days out from Tuesday’s Primary where there was a lot of attention paid to the state’s Republican Senate primary and various U.S. Congressional races. So, we thought it was time to give state lawmakers and their races a little love.

Primarily Speaking

In just about two thirds of these local races the primary pretty much determined who the winner will be in November. Because of the way the lines are drawn, most districts are decidedly Republican or Democratic. So, the primary settles the question three months before the general election.

That leaves just about a third of the races left; races that are really fought between a Republican and a Democrat… where incumbency, the strength of the national and statewide tickets and fights over issues and policy matter.

Can Democrats Win Back the State House?

Control of the state House is in play this year. In 2010, largely on the strength of a surge nationwide for Republicans, the GOP took a commanding majority – 64 to 46 – in the state House.  Out of 110 seats, Democrats need to turn at least 10 of them to win back control. That’s a lot. But we’ve seen dramatic swings in recent House elections. So, Democrats see it as tough, but do-able.

In the Thumb, Democrats lost the Republican primary. That’s because incumbent Republican Kurt Damrow ran into some problems and he had become such a liability that his local Republican Party kicked him out. Former Democratic Representative Terry Brown won’t have as easy a time against Dan Grimshaw.

In Grand Rapids, Democrats won the Republican primary when the badly damaged Roy Schmidt barely won re-nomination over a write-in opponent, but only on the strength of absentee ballots cast before the scandal over how he switched parties and tried to rig his own re-election by recruiting a fake Democrat broke into the news. Political-newcomer Winnie Brinks is the Democrat on the ballot. And, Schmidt’s name is toxic. Candidates typically love high name identification, but not this kind.

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.

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