Election 2014

 Welcome to this fundraising edition of It’s Just Politics.

No, we’re not talking about Michigan Radio’s Fall Fundrive that’s underway (although the number is 888-258-98… ah, stop us!).

Instead, we are talking about Election 2014 campaign fundraising.

Endless pleas

If you’re on a campaign or party list you are well aware of the seemingly endless pleas for campaign cash.

“The entire team is still here. There is nothing we’d rather be doing than going home and taking a break. But we know how important this midnight deadline we’re facing is. If we don’t meet it, that means we could lose.”

Or this one from Senate Republicans, “Friend, I’m really disappointed and worried. I’ve been counting on your support to end Harry Reid’s disastrous control of the US Senate on November 4th….”

Almost two years ago, I spoke to a group called CRAM, the County Road Association of Michigan. These are the folks who maintain Michigan’s streets and highways, both urban and rural.

I found these folks mainly had frustrating professional lives, trying to do too much with too few resources and being blamed for problems they weren’t being given enough money to fix.

Yesterday, however, some pundits may have been startled when their political action group, RUSH-PAC, announced it was endorsing Gov. Rick Snyder for re-election. That may surprise some because though the governor did announce a plan to raise revenue for the roads, he’s failed to get it through the Legislature.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Update 11:20 a.m.

As predicted, the debate rages on.

Tons of people have written about this issue over the last year, and today the Citizens Research Council released some more analysis on this question, so we thought we'd add their findings to this post we published last May. (Our investigative reporter, Lester Graham, is also looking into this question and will have more for us in the coming weeks.)

What did the Citizens Research Council find?

You can read the full-report here, but in short they tackled these three questions:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two congressional candidates agreed on the need for more bipartisanship in Washington during a debate today in Flint.

They just disagreed as to who’s at fault for the lack of bipartisanship now.

Republican Allen Hardwick is challenging incumbent Fifth District Congressman Dan Kildee. They faced off during a midday debate before the West Flint Business Association.

With news out today that President Obama will be campaigning for statewide Democratic candidates Gary Peters and Mark Schauer at the end of the month, I thought it would be a good time to revisit a prediction my It’s Just Politics co-host Rick Pluta and I made in September.

That prediction? That, although many political pundits continue to talk about the president’s unpopularity nationwide, Barack Obama would make an appearance in Michigan before Election Day.

President Obama will return to Michigan. Back to campaign and to inspire Obama voters to get out and vote in the mid-terms. (It’s Just Politics, September 27th, 2014)

It is absolutely true that the president’s approval ratings are nothing to write home  about (in fact, they appear to be at their lowest level today since he took office) but, as Pluta and I have talked about before on IJP, this is a get-out-the-vote election. Democrats are relying on their core supporters, their base voters, to get them to victory at the polls on Nov. 4.

Though there are more Democrats in Michigan, Republicans do a better job of turning out in mid-term elections, when a president is not at the top of the ballot.

That’s why, although Michigan is a blue-state, we have a Republican governor, secretary of state and attorney general (all positions that are elected in non-presidential years, when Democrats tend to stay home).  – It’s Just Politics, Oct. 11, 2014

In order for Democrats to get their voters to the polls they need big names to help excite the electorate and there aren’t bigger Democratic names in this election cycle than President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama (who was in Detroit last Friday) and Hillary Clinton (who will visit Michigan tomorrow).

Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee irritated many Michigan Democrats when they canceled plans to buy advertising in four congressional races. These are seats now held by Republicans, but where Democrats believed that with hard work and strong candidates, they had a chance at an upset. Some think they still do.

However, national Democratic strategists made the purely political calculation that with dozens of seats on the line, their money would be better invested elsewhere. But there’s another seat that virtually no one thought would be in play, but which suddenly looks like the surprise sleeper race of 2014.

More than a year ago, a man told me I should get to know Paul Clements, who he said was going to beat Congressman Fred Upton in the Sixth Congressional District, which is based in Kalamazoo.

U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Michigan Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's "Ballot Bash" event in Royal Oak.

Gary Peters is scheduled to appear from 6:30 - 7:00 p.m. Mark Totten is scheduled from 7:15 - 7:45 p.m.

You can watch the event below:

Twenty years ago, radio in Michigan was dominated by WJR-AM, which had the strongest signal around. You could get it nearly anywhere in the state. The station’s signature personality was the legendary J.P. McCarthy, who was an amazing interviewer.

Politically, I suspect he was conservative, but it was hard to tell; he interviewed politicians of all flavors with decency, courtesy and wit. But then, J.P. suddenly died.

Today, he has been succeeded by the sort of ideological slashers who have given talk radio a bad name.

Virtually everyone in Michigan politics, including those who write about it, is analyzing last night’s debate between Governor Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer. 

Both sides put their own spin on this debate even before it was over. I’ve seen a lot of debates in my time, live or recorded, including every presidential debate in the modern era.

I have some thoughts on this one.

But I wanted to start with an observation that you might think comes out of left field. Shortly after the debate, I was copied on an e-mail letter a fellow named Kenneth Hreha sent to an anchorman at one of Detroit’s TV networks.

I was struck by these lines:

Hreha said, “The incumbent Rick Snyder didn’t even have the common courtesy to come professionally dressed in a suit and tie, a true reflection of the laziness of this man and the public policies that hurt working people.”

Now, Hreha is scarcely neutral. He voted for Snyder four years ago, but since has come to hate him.

He was laid off from a job working for the state, and the only job he’s been able to find since pays less and has no benefits.

But aside from that, do citizens want a governor who looks like them or one who shows up dressed like an authority figure? Originally, I thought Snyder’s casual style a big plus in today’s world.

Now, I’m not so sure. I know that after Mark Schauer did one commercial casually dressed, one of the elder statesmen of the Democratic Party yelled at him, saying he needed to wear a dark suit and look like the citizens expect a man in charge to look.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Watch the only debate in the 2014 Michigan governor's race below.

The one-hour, town-hall-style debate took place between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer last night at 6 p.m.

The forum included an audience of undecided voters asking questions to both candidates and was televised from Wayne State University.

You can watch it below. (If you're having trouble seeing the video below, try this link.)

Or you can listen to the audio here:

Politicians like to take credit for improving the economy, and challengers like to blame sitting officials for damaging it. In the race for governor in Michigan there have been plenty of both those kinds of accusations. Lester Graham with Michigan Watch examines how much politicians can really affect the economy.

Outside a Michigan WORKS! employment office, I asked a few unemployed people if they thought any state politician could make a difference in creating jobs.

Davina Carey has been out of work since June. “Hopefully," she said, laughing. "I mean, I don’t know.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard seem to agree that Michigan motorists dread dealing with the state's motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

In her campaign for another four years, Johnson talks about how hard she worked to improve service at Department of State branch offices even as her budget shrank. And she talks about expanding her pilot programs to cut the wait time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A watchdog group says $1.2 million has been spent on TV ads in Michigan’s Supreme Court judge races this year and more money is flowing in.

Michigan has three seats on the court on next month’s ballot.

Candidates have spent just under a million dollars themselves.   The Michigan Republican Party recently spent $200,000 to boost three GOP candidates.

Laurie Kinney is with Justice at Stake.    She says spending is rising as Election Day draws closer.

 We’ve been talking for months now on It’s Just Politics about the fact that Election 2014 is really going to be about which party does a better job of getting out its core voters, especially whether Democrats can get their voters to the polls on November 4th.

Though there are more Democrats in Michigan, Republicans do a better job of turning out in mid-term elections, when a President is not at the top of the ballot.

That’s why, although Michigan is a blue-state, we have a Republican Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General (all positions that are elected in non-presidential years, when Democrats tend to stay home).

That explains why we’re seeing a competitive race for governor, although some recent polls show Republican Governor Rick Snyder opening a wider lead (some polls, not all).

Meantime, almost every poll shows Democrat Gary Peters opening a wider lead over Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Sunday evening, Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer will square off in their only scheduled debate before November’s election.

The town hall-style debate will be televised from Wayne State University, and you can hear it live on Michigan Radio at 6:00 pm.

Podiums
Angus Mcdlarmld / Flickr

For a moment it seemed like the public would get a chance to see a debate between Republican Terri Lynn Land and Democrat Gary Peters. They're the candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Carl Levin who is retiring.

Last night, however, negotiations fell apart.

I spoke with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the politics behind these debates. Here's our conversation:

Wikimedia Commons

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is joining an ever-growing list of national leaders visiting Michigan to bring out the vote for their parties' candidates.

Clinton will campaign at a public event next Thursday for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer. The Michigan Democratic Party said details will be announced soon.

Clinton's visit will follow First Lady  Michelle Obama's Detroit appearance tomorrow to campaign for Peters and Schauer.

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Lansing.

Godfrey Dillard is scheduled to appear from 6:45 - 7:15 pm. Mark Schauer is scheduled from 7:30 - 8:00 pm.

You can watch the event below:

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Lansing. Godfrey Dillard is scheduled to appear from 6:45 - 7:15 pm. Mark Schauer is scheduled from 7:30 - 8:00 pm. You can watch the event below:

Live streaming video by Ustream The final Ballot Bash event will be Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Royal Oak featuring U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D).

The final Ballot Bash event will be Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Royal Oak featuring U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D). 

My guess is that Jerry Cannon is pretty upset today, and so are Pam Byrnes, Eric Schertzing and Bobby McKenzie.

They are all Democratic candidates for Congress in Michigan. They’ve been working their tails off for months trying to make some headway, three of them against Republican incumbents.

Cannon, a Vietnam veteran and former Kalkaska sheriff, was heavily recruited for the race by Lon Johnson, the new Democratic state chair. McKenzie, an anti-terrorism expert, and gave up a good job with the state department to come back and run.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Rep. Justin Amash and Democratic challenger Bob Goodrich clashed on several issues during a debate today in Grand Rapids.   

Amash and Goodrich face off in next month’s Third Congressional District election. 

The wide ranging hour long debate touched on a variety of issues, from Obamacare to terrorism.

Asian Carp
Kate.Gardner / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss GOP groups pulling their ads supporting Terri Lynn Land, Asian carp DNA found in the Kalamazoo River, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear cases from lower courts banning gay marriage.


rightwingweb

Another big name Republican is coming to Michigan to get out the vote. 

Former Florida governor and potential future presidential candidate Jeb Bush is scheduled to make a whirlwind swing through Michigan on Monday.

Bush is scheduled to appear at events in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Troy.

Michigan is becoming a popular stop for big name politicos.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigned for GOP candidates last week in Livonia.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Time is running out before Election Day, and some groups think their money would be better spent elsewhere.

The Associated Press reports Republican groups are pulling ad buys supporting U.S. Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled nearly $1 million in ads for the weeks of Oct. 21 and Oct. 28, according to a political operative who tracks ad spending. Democrat Gary Peters leads Republican Terri Lynn Land in Michigan.

Well, the election is officially four weeks away, but not for me. I voted yesterday morning, in the best place possible, at my kitchen table.

I can legally do this, because I am more than 60 years old. If you reach that age, you qualify to be sent an absentee ballot through the mail, every election.

I won’t tell you for whom I voted, but I will tell you this: We’d be a better democracy if everyone could vote this way, if everyone got a ballot in the mail, took the time to study it, and then mailed it in.

Or as I do, drop it off at city hall.

How accurate are current polls that show Snyder and Schauer neck and neck?
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How do we fix Michigan's financially ailing cities and school districts?

The answer to that question is one of the core issues in the race for governor.

Detroit News Lansing Bureau reporter Chad Livengood wrote this piece in today's News that sorts out the different "prescriptions" that Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer offer to cities and school districts.

Livengood says Rick Snyder sees himself as the "fix it" guy, and Snyder thinks emergency managers have played an effective role in helping ailing cities and schools.

Livengood says Mark Schauer wants to abolish the current emergency manager law and send in "financial transition teams" to help communities and school districts instead.

* Listen to the interview with Chad Livengood above.

 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State House Democrats are once again calling for a repeal of Michigan’s tax on pensions.

The 2011 tax code rewrite means some retirees are paying taxes on previously untaxed pension income.

State Rep. Theresa Abed, D-Grand Ledge, says it’s unfair to seniors.

“It is wrong to balance the budget on the backs of those on a fixed income with no way to make it up,” says Abed.

The pension tax is expected to generate about $350 million this year.

A bill to repeal the pension tax has been languishing in the Legislature since 2013.

White House

First Lady Michelle Obama will be in Michigan on Friday.

She'll be campaigning for Democratic candidates.

The White House says the First Lady will appear at a campaign event in Detroit on Friday.  She’ll be sharing the stage with U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer.

Gov. Rick Snyder, U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson answer questions from MLive's statewide editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Grand Rapids.

You can watch below:

The event has concluded. See highlights from MLive here, or watch the recorded event here.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

Today is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4th general elections.

To register, you can stop by your local Secretary of State’s office or your county, city or township clerk’s office. Applicants will be required to present a picture ID or sign an affidavit.

Carmella Sabaugh is the county clerk and Register of Deeds of Macomb County. She says the clerk’s office will remain open and accept registrations until midnight on Monday.

“We have got a lot of last-minute registrations that way. The important thing is people have to be registered before they can vote.” 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

KALAMAZOO – Gov. Rick Snyder is more forcefully countering what he calls "the big lie" in his re-election bid – charges that he cut $1 billion in education funding in 2011.

His opponent, Democrat Mark Schauer, isn't shying away from the claim.

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