Election 2014

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The race to become the republican candidate for Michigan’s conservative 3rd congressional district is a flip of other races across the country. In this race, the tea party favorite is the incumbent, Congressman Justin Amash. So the primary has become a battle over who’s the true conservative and who can get things done in Washington.

Amash’s independent streak: love it or hate it

Congressman Justin Amash is more of a libertarian than your standard republican. He wants a smaller federal government. He’s buddies with Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

A recent report shows that for every dollar spent by a Michigan candidate in campaign ads, outside groups have spent $3.50. Another way to look at it: of the $18 million spent on TV campaign ads in the first half of this year, outside groups contributed $14 million.

What are the consequences of outside money in Michigan political campaigns, and who are these groups?

To answer those questions, Rich Robinson and Todd Spangler joined Lester Graham on Stateside. Robinson is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.  Spangler is a correspondent with the Detroit Free Press.

Atlantic Council / Flickr

It’s an election year and the primary elections will be held August 5th.  With the retirement of John Dingell, the 12th Congressional district is an open seat. His wife, Deborah Dingell, is running for that seat in the Democratic primary against Ypsilanti attorney Raymond G. Mullins.

Debbie Dingell joined Stateside today to talk about her campaign.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers’ decision to retire from his 8th congressional district seat is leaving a void that Michigan Democrats hope to fill.

The 8th congressional district stretches over parts of Oakland, Livingston, Ingham, Shiawassee and Clinton counties.   And since 2001, Mike Rogers has kept it safely in the Republican column.

Primary elections in Michigan will be held on August 5. Voters in parts of Detroit and Wayne County will decide between two Democratic candidates in the 13th Congressional District. The incumbent is John Conyers Jr. The challenger is The Rev. Horace Sheffield III.

Before we start talking about 2014, let me take you back 50 years:

“In your heart, you know he’s right. Vote for Barry Goldwater.”

“Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

 There are some big stakes in the primary elections less than two weeks away, and fierce fights over congressional and legislative nominations are getting a lot of attention.

Not that it’s likely to boost what is usually anemic turnout in the primaries, and that’s despite the reality that most seats are so firmly partisan that the primary is actually the decisive election that really determines who goes to Lansing or Washington.

Like other politicos, we’ve paid a lot of attention to the face-off between the Republican establishment and the GOP’s Tea Party wing. And while that fight is playing out in some state House and Senate races, and some big Congressional races, it’s also playing out locally. Very locally.

We’re talking about the humble precinct delegate.

Unless you’ve been trapped in a coal mine, you may have noticed that this is an election year.

We’re less than two weeks from Michigan’s statewide primary. Once we get through that, we may have a few weeks before the airwaves are again dominated by commercials for various candidates for various offices.

I’ve been telling you about some of these, and I expect to be talking more about them before November. But I was thinking that three of the most potentially interesting leaders in the state are not on the ballot this year.

They are all women, all young, charismatic, intelligent, competent and highly educated. They also all happen to be Democrats, but that is almost a coincidence. 

Republicans have some rising women leaders as well, two of whom, Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Tonya Schuitmaker, are running for reelection to the Legislature.

Spy glasses wearer checks his specs in the bathroom.
Michigan Democratic Party / YouTube

By now you've probably heard the chuckling, the snickering and Democratic growling over that pair of young Republican "operatives."

The ones who turned up at a Mark Schauer fundraiser at a private home in Bloomfield Hills.

One of the pair wore fake glasses with a tiny video camera built into the frame.

It might have gone undetected but for the fact the memory card of their "Secret Squirrel" mission somehow turned up on the floor of a union hall in Farmington Hills two weeks later.

Democrats immediately posted the eight-minute video, wherein we learned little more than the facts that Natalie Collins, the Republican staffer who wore the glasses, doesn't like having her photo taken when she's eating pineapple and she didn't think much of the artwork at the home.

Have a look at the video of the training sessions with Republican would-be spies. Video released by the Michigan Democratic Party.

Democrats cried "foul, dirty tricks!" And Republicans shrugged and said, well, everyone does it.

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta shared their thoughts with Stateside.

*Listen to the full interview with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta above. 

Westland sometimes is in national trivia contests because it was the first city ever named after a shopping mall.

Bill Wild, Westland’s mayor for the last seven years, has been much less well-known. Perhaps until recently, that is; he is now waging a serious campaign to be elected Wayne County executive. That is, to win the Democratic primary August 5, which essentially guarantees victory in the November election.

Wild may still have more money and less name recognition than his four major rivals. But he is running second in some polls, and has one powerful argument.

“I’m the only candidate who actually has executive experience, who has run both a business and a government,” he told me a couple days ago, when I went to see him at his campaign headquarters on the east side of Detroit. 

That is somewhat true.

Cue the James Bond theme as we take up electoral espionage. We’re talking campaign black ops. Political spying.

We learned this week that Republicans here in Michigan sent two young operatives equipped with a tiny video camera in a pair of glasses to infiltrate a Mark Schauer for Governor campaign event -- looking for whatever they might find. And what did they get? Found out.

Our ace operatives bungled the job. Dropped the disc with the video where it was found by Democrats. Who, then, made it public, including their brief conversation with Dem lieutenant governor candidate Lisa Brown.

Republicans didn’t deny the operatives were theirs.

Democrats and the Schauer campaign cried foul calling it sneaky, dirty tricks. They got some newspaper headlines. Effective messaging helped along by the fact that it fit did neatly into a narrative courtesy of some missteps -- or what seemed to be missteps -- by Governor Rick Snyder’s campaign.

Detroit voters will now be able to access, sign and submit absentee ballot applications on their smartphones.

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson announced the new initiative Wednesday.

Winfrey said it’s simply a matter of meeting voters where they tend to be these days—online.

“So why not? Why not be able to use their smartphone to request an absentee ballot?” Winfrey asked.

Back in the 1960s, there was a hilarious TV sitcom called Get Smart, which portrayed the adventures of the world’s most inept spy.

Maxwell Smart was a bumbler who talked into his not-so-secret shoe telephone, carried around a device called the cone of silence, and never really had a clue as to what was going on.

Well, the Cold War is long over, but if he were around today, Smart would clearly have a future in politics.

This week, we learned that the Snyder re-election campaign has evidently revived some version of the classic department of dirty tricks, tactics made most famous by another Richard, the late President Nixon.

The Michigan Republican Party now admits it sent two staffers into a Mark Schauer fundraising event wearing high-tech hidden camera glasses.

Democrats later got possession of the disc, apparently because the Republicans clumsily lost it. My understanding is that it shows the two paid staffers chowing down on appetizers and worrying that the people at the event were on to them. They apparently made small talk with Lisa Brown, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, but not Schauer.

You might think Republicans would now be embarrassed.

But you’d be wrong.

From the video put together by Mark Schauer's campaign. The alleged "spy cam" on a Republican staffer.
Mark Schauer / YouTube

I guess we should expect it in our politics these days.

Recording technology is getting smaller and some recordings have been seen as game changers.

When David Corn of Mother Jones released Mitt Romney's "47% video," the predictions came in:

"You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New data show Michigan congressional candidates are digging deep into their own pockets to pay for their campaigns.

A trio of businessmen running for Republican congressional nominations have dug the deepest, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission this week.

Mark Schauer
www.markschauer.com

This morning, Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor Mark Schauer joined us on a statewide call-in show.

Here’s a shot of the team getting ready for the show in the WKAR studio:

Schauer answered questions about his plans for education, the city of Detroit, retiree pensions, road funding and more during the hour-long program.

If you missed it, you can listen to it here:


This week, pretty much unnoticed, the deadline came and went for opponents to file challenges to petitions filed by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management campaign to initiate a law. This is part of the ongoing political battle over wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.

The CPWM petition drive would create a new version of the law to allow wolf hunting, and it would take future decisions on designating game animals and put it with the state Natural Resources Commission instead of the Legislature.

Now, not everyone may recognize that petition campaign. But, if you signed a petition to oppose Asian carp in the Great Lakes, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting in the UP. If you signed a petition to allow active duty military personnel to get free hunting and fishing licenses, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting.

How accurate are current polls that show Snyder and Schauer neck and neck?
Facebook

Tomorr0w morning at 9:00 a.m. on Michigan Radio, it's your chance to ask questions of Mark Schauer, the Democrat who wants to be your next governor.

Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark, co-hosts of Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics joined Stateside today to talk about where this race for governor stands right now.

Pluta discussed what issues Mark Schauer and Governor Snyder are focused now.  He said the governor is focusing on the state's economic recovery and the fact that overall trend is improving. Schauer will likely focus on topics such as charter schools, and policies surrounding abortion coverage. 

Clark added that the issue with the Schauer campaign is the lack of excitement to get out the vote among Democrats. Also, Pluta pointed out that Schauer still needed to work on public identification.

Check out our Facebook page for details on the number to call in tomorrow morning.

* Listen to the interview above.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to Michigan’s bizarrely gerrymandered 14th Congressional District, drawn to pack as many Democrats as possible together.

But there has been even more strangeness in its mirror image to the left, the 11th District, similarly designed for Republicans. Shaped something like an irregular claw, the 11th begins with Birmingham and Troy in the east and arcs over to take in Milford and Novi in the west and Livonia and Canton in the South.

This was meant to be GOP territory. But it is not nearly as Republican as the 14th is Democratic. President Obama carried it once, and some think it could send a Democrat to Congress. And it hasn’t been short of controversy.

Two years ago, longtime Congressman Thaddeus McCotter’s career ended after his staff filed fraudulent ballot petition signatures.

That left Republicans with Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party supporting reindeer farmer. He won and is trying for a second term.

Theresa Thompson / Flickr

The curtain is closing on baby boomers, as the so-called "millennial generation" is taking up a larger share of the electorate. This voting block surpasses seniors who are eligible to vote.

But many millennials are not politically engaged.

“We feel that as one voice, as a younger person, we don’t have a lot of say in politics and I think that also drives their decision to remain out of the discussion as well,” said Connor Walby, a millennial and the campaign manager for State Rep. Frank Foster, R-Petoskey.

Walby also said the negative messages in politics that are seen on social media affect millennials' decision to vote as well.

“With our generation and having Twitter and Facebook, we are blasted with a lot of the 24 hour news cycle. And with that you also get a lot of the negative news coverage,” Walby said.  “I think a lot of our generation is pretty sick and tired of some of the policies that have been put in place and they are just sick of the politicians and the political atmosphere in general.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The deadline to register to vote in Michigan's primary is today.

On Aug. 5, Michiganders will vote in the party primaries for state House and Senate seats.

But turnout has been historically low in the primaries.

User: Keith Ivey / flickr

A new report finds that for every dollar spent by a Michigan candidate in campaign ads, outside groups have spent $3.50.

Looking at it another way: of the $18 million spent on campaign TV ads over the first half of this year, outside groups paid for $14 million of that.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the campaign spending watchdog group Michigan Campaign Finance Network, talked about the consequences of outside money in Michigan political campaigns.

One dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

    

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

We’re still about a month out from the primaries and four months out from the general election. Yet, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network this week reports that $18 million have already been spent in the Michigan gubernatorial and senate races. And such of this money is coming from outside groups.

Is it surprising that this much outside money is coming into Michigan so early or is this election politics as usual?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Nearly $18 million has been spent so far this year on political TV ads in Michigan’s U. S. Senate and governor’s races. Most of the money has been coming from national Republican, Democratic, conservative and liberal groups.

Rich Robinson is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He analyzed TV ad buys by political groups in a half dozen television markets in Michigan. 

Okay, here’s today’s political trivia test: What do the following people have in common? 

Bob Griffin, Marvin Esch, Jack Lousma, Jim Dunn, Phil Ruppe, Ronna Romney, Bill Schuette, Rocky Raczkowski, Jack Hoogendyk, Spencer Abraham, Mike Bouchard, and Pete Hoekstra. That’s the complete list of Michigan Republicans nominated to run statewide for the U.S. Senate in the last 40 years. 
They have something else in common, too: Every one lost. How many Republicans won election to the Senate over the same period? Only one: Spencer Abraham, who won in 1994. Six years later, he was a loser, too.
That’s an incredible record of frustration. Twelve out of 13 losses. That’s especially strange, given that the GOP has held the governorship for most of that time, and the Legislature.
If you are 31 or younger, you weren’t even born the last time Democrats controlled the state Senate.

How accurate are current polls that show Snyder and Schauer neck and neck?
Facebook

Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would put tougher regulations on charter schools if he’s elected governor. The Battle Creek Democrat says Gov. Rick Snyder has given bad charter operators a “free pass.”

“We need to write into law the oversight that was left out when Rick Snyder lifted the cap on the number of charter schools,” said Schauer. “It’s the Wild West right now, and these schools see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads.”

Wayne County always has been the biggest county in Michigan, at least in terms of people, and it's the most important. Though it includes Detroit, more than a million of its residents live elsewhere, from the affluent leafy suburbs of Plymouth to gritty downriver towns like River Rouge.

They are all very different, but have two things in common. First, they elect an executive, sort of a super mayor to run things. And second, they live in a county in trouble and in deficit.

In recent years, Wayne County has been rocked by personnel scandals and an astonishing farce concerning a half-built jail abandoned after $125 million taxpayer dollars had been wasted.

Now, there are increasing worries that Wayne County, like its largest city, could be facing emergency management. That should be alarming to all of us for the same reason Detroit’s troubles are.

"Unfortunately, this is an issue that I would admit there are too much politics going on." That was Gov. Rick Snyder last night, after it became clear that a major roads funding package was not going to get passed in the state Senate.

"...If we were sitting at the kitchen table as a big family,” he continued, “and you looked at this issue, we would have solved this problem.”

Sure. Or our big family would fight about who wrecked the roads in the first place and that it was your fault – you and your big truck – which is why we can’t have nice roads and don’t you know I have a primary and, by the way, I haven’t forgotten who wrecked the roads that you won’t fix because you should.

But, we digress.

There were a lot of reasons why this road-funding deal failed to come together, despite some recent instances of actual bipartisanship, like increasing the state’s minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. But those were exceptions in this era of Republican hegemony in Lansing.


With money to fix roads hanging in the balance, presidential politics could stand in the way of the new trend of bipartisan action on big, controversial issues.

But, really, any notion that there’s a new era of bipartisanship at the state Capitol should be shelved, despite the Democratic and Republican coalitions in the Legislature that pushed through deals on increasing the minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. And that’s because each was an anomaly that brought Democrats to the bargaining table in Republican-controlled Lansing.

When you break down the Detroit votes, for example, you see two very different pictures in the House and in the Senate. In the House, almost all the Republicans voted for the rescue. A few Democrats were the holdouts. In the Senate, Democrats made up the difference as most Republicans -- 16 out of 26 -- voted “no” on the main bills in the Detroit package.

What this says is the parameters of each deal were different (even when we’re talking about the exact same legislation) depending on whether it’s the House or the Senate.  For example, a larger proportion of the Republicans in the Senate have serious primaries.

Supporters of the Michigan Green Party visit the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department.
Michigan Green Party / Facebook

It might be fair to say the Green Party in Michigan is a little like Rodney Dangerfield: Can't get no respect.

But the party is holding its nominating convention this weekend. It's a reminder that we do have an alternative to the Democrat and Republican parties in the state.

Fred Vitale, chairperson for the Green Party of Michigan, joined us on Stateside today.

He explained what the Green Party platform is based on and how issues such as ecological wisdom and social justice should be the focus for the upcoming election season.

Vitale also talked about how the Green Party can realistically have an impact on politics in Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will have a chance to drive the final nail into the coffin of the state’s  Personal Property tax this summer. The Board of State Canvassers today designated the PPT question as Proposal 1 on the August 5 ballot. It will be the only statewide question on the ballot.  

Businesses pay the tax based on the value of their equipment and other assets. Many Michigan communities rely on the tax revenues to pay for basic city services.

Pages