Election 2014


So now that the Michigan Senate has approved a new, higher minimum wage, with bipartisan support (14 Rs, 10 Ds) no less, this is practically a done deal. Right?

Not so much. The headlines and stories that said it would “kill” the petition drive are speculative and premature.

This Senate bill is – at the bottom of it all – an effort to pull the rug out from under the ballot drive to raise the Michigan minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. It's a cause beloved by Democrats and progressives.

So why then did 10 out of 12 Senate Democrats go along with it? Particularly after some had already blasted the proposal as a gimmick and too paltry – especially for workers earning the lower tipped wage?

USFWS Midwest

Michigan hunters are in the final phases of collecting signatures on a statewide petition drive to allow the state’s controversial wolf hunt to continue.

Hunters killed 22 wolves in three specific zones in the Upper Peninsula last year. The hunt was the first after the gray wolf was removed from the endangered species list.

Longtime Congressman John Conyers is about 400 signatures short of what he needs to be on the August primary ballot.

The Detroit Democrat is seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he’s the second longest-serving member.

But Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett has now released a report that finds Conyers only got 592 valid petition signatures – far short of the 1,000 needed to get on the ballot.

Garrett ruled that hundreds of signatures were invalid because the petition circulators who gathered them weren’t registered to vote at the time.

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are plenty of issues on the minds of Michigan voters as we look to the November elections: education, college, poverty, how to spend public dollars, our economy, our quality of life. 

The Center for Michigan has been listening to what voters are saying. The result is Michigan Speaks: The Citizen's Agenda for the 2014 election. 

It's being released today.

Here to tell us what the voters are thinking about and hoping for is Phil Power, founder of the Center for Michigan. 

Listen to the full interview above. 


Update: 1:25 PM, Monday, May 5th, 2014

 

Well, blow the “trumpet of shame” on us. Right after we predicted here that the prospective challengers to Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley would fall short, Wes Nakagiri goes and turns in 33 signatures from the ranks of Michigan Republican State Central Committee to get his name placed in consideration at the party’s summer convention. The rules require at least three signatures from committee members in at least three congressional districts. It appears Nakagiri’s crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s, but the Michigan GOP’s policy committee still has to affirm the signatures. That could happen at its July meeting, if not sooner. Calley’s still the odds-on favorite to win re-nomination.

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We’ve talked quite a bit already about the friction within the Michigan Republican Party between the GOP establishment and its perpetually perturbed Tea Party wing. The Tea Party’s restless longings are coalescing lately around the possibility of toppling Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley from the ticket.

It almost happened four years ago as many in the Tea Party deemed Republican nominee-for- governor Rick Snyder as insufficiently conservative, and tried to put one of their own on the ticket in place of One Tough Nerd’s choice, then-state Representative Calley. And when that effort failed (but not by much), they felt robbed.

“In politics, you know, they do whatever it takes! They scratch! They claw! They bite!” said one angry delegate to the 2010 GOP summer convention.Tea Partiers now harbor some hopes of pulling it off this year as a payback for the Medicaid expansion, Common Core, the autism insurance mandate and other Snyder administration initiatives.

But Lieutenant Gov. Calley seems to have warded off that challenge – for the moment.

If you like irony, think about this. Sixty years ago, the president of General Motors was nominated to be Secretary of Defense.

Today, we remember only one thing about “Engine Charlie” Wilson – his famous quote: “I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”  Today, that would almost certainly have sunk his nomination.

Back then, it caused scarcely a ripple. Wilson died in 1961, and I wonder what he would say if he came back to life and learned that Chrysler was owned by the Italians, Ford was about to have a Jewish CEO and his beloved GM had not only gone bankrupt, it was now a much smaller company run by a woman. Oh yes, and by the way – the president of the United States is black.

DETROIT – U.S. Rep. John Conyers says he has enough signatures for his name to appear on the August primary ballot despite a report that two circulators weren't registered voters when they gathered signatures.

The longtime Detroit Democrat said in a statement Wednesday that he's "pleased" the Wayne County clerk determined his campaign collected a sufficient number of signatures. The primary is Aug. 5.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A rival's challenge to U.S. Rep John Conyers' nominating petitions could keep the veteran Detroit Democrat from seeking another term in Congress.

The staff of the Rev. Horace Sheffield III filed a challenge Tuesday with the Wayne County clerk's office after a WDIV-TV  report that two Conyers' petition circulators weren't registered voters when they gathered signatures.

Remember back to the nightmare election of 2000, when for five weeks after the voting, we did not know who our next president would be?

The culprit, of course was Florida.

You’ve probably seen those photos of confused poll workers trying to recount the ballots, holding defective punch cards up to the light and squinting to see if the holes were punched through.

Well, back then I felt sort of smug. Michigan, I believed, had no real problems as far as elections were concerned.  Our state cleaned up a lot of irregularities after a problem with a couple close gubernatorial elections in the 1950s. We avoided punch cards after a disastrous experiment in Detroit in 1970.

It’s Michigan minimum wage redux. This week, conservative Republican state Senator Rick Jones introduced a bill to increase Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour. The measure would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour.

Yes, you read that correctly. A Republican lawmaker wants to increase the state’s minimum wage.

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today we spoke with Michigan Radio’s political analyst, Jack Lessenberry, about the upcoming elections.

We are a little more than four months away from the statewide primaries, the statewide Republican and Democratic conventions, and some seven months away from the general election in November. Among many local and Congressional races, that's also when Michiganders will go to the polls to vote for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. 

U.S. Supreme Court

When the U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down its 5-4 decision in McCutcheon vs.

History suggests that this election year should be friendly to Republicans. That’s because Republicans are more likely to turn out in mid-term elections than Democrats, and the party out of the White House, especially in a president’s second term, tends to have an advantage. With about six and a half months to go before the November election, a lot of Republicans are harboring hopes that this is going to be a good year to be a Republican.

But here’s a question: Which kind of Republican is it best to be this year?

In Michigan -- just like nationally -- there’s some tension between the three threads of the GOP coalition. That’s the  Establishment Republicans, the Tea Party, and the Liberty Movement.

We’ll get a better idea of how big this fight is (and if it’s a fight at all worth talking about) after this coming Tuesday’s filing deadline. We’ll see exactly where and how many Tea Partiers will “primary” an establishment Republican figure, and where the Republican establishment (and by that we mean chamber of commerce Republicans) will try to dislodge a Tea Partier from Congress or the Legislature.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As Michigan's August 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up.

The Cook Political Report says four congressional Republicans are in tight races. Representatives Dan Benishek in the 1st, Tim Walberg in the 7th, Justin Amash in the 3rd and Kerry Bentivolio on the 11th districts are in very competitive races. Add to that the race to fill Democrat Carl Levin's Senate seat and the race for governor. All of these, according to Cook, are among the most competitive races in the country.

So who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

For the answer we turned to Page Gardner, president of the non-profit and nonpartisan Voter Participation Center. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report suggests unmarried women may be a critical swing vote in Michigan’s elections this fall.

The Voter Participation Center works to get more unmarried women, people of color, and young people to vote. But those groups tend to show the biggest voting dropoff in off-year elections.

Those also happen to be the voters Democrats need  to win in this fall’s gubernatorial and congressional elections.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former state senate majority leader Mike Bishop picked up an endorsement today  in his campaign to be Michigan’s next eighth district congressman.

The endorsement came from current eighth district congressman Mike Rogers.

Rogers surprised many when he announced last month he’s stepping down after serving seven terms in Congress.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s senior political analyst. He doesn’t see the Rogers endorsement playing a big role in race.

Lessenberry says what matters more is who else jumps in the race.

USFWS Midwest

Once again, pollsters say a majority of Michiganders support a state sanctioned wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Hunters killed 23 wolves last year in the state’s first official wolf hunt. State wildlife officials had set a goal of 43 wolves.

The controversial wolf hunt could be the subject of three questions on the November ballot.

A new poll by Marketing Resource Group of Lansing shows wolf hunt opponents may have more work to do to convince voters.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Each week we take a look at what’s happening in 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.

Earlier today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer announced that Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown will be his running mate for the upcoming 2014 election. Brown served two terms in the state House of Representatives and has served as the Oakland County Clerk since 2012, a position long held by Republicans.

Susan Demas indicates the selection of Brown will bolster the ticket because of her name recognition with voters in Southeast Michigan and she resonates well with female voters. 

“Lisa Brown...gained a lot of attention in 2012 with the debate over the controversial abortion legislation, and was known for the ‘vagina-gate’ scandal when she was not allowed to speak on the floor.”

Meanwhile, a fourth member of Michigan’s congressional delegation announced he will not seek re-election. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, will step down, along with Mike Rogers, Carl Levin and John Dingell.

Mark Schauer and Lisa Brown at today's announcement.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Mark Schauer has made it official. He has chosen Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown to be his running mate in this year’s race for governor.

Schauer, a former congressman from Battle Creek, is the likely Democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Snyder in November.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A campaign spending watchdog is worried about the potential effect on Michigan’s politics by a U.S. Supreme Court decision today. 

The Supreme Court has struck down limits in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

A political stunner slapped all of our political cheeks awake this morning, just like that scene with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.

The news? Seven-term Republican Congressman Mike Rogers announced he is retiring from Congress. Retiring from Congress, but not the political circus. He is going to start a national radio show devoted to foreign policy and national defense, which is his bailiwick as the Chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.

Rogers is also a well-known talking head. Last year, he appeared more than any other elected official on the Sunday morning news circuit. And he’s got the TV sound bites down, just last week on Meet the Press, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin, “goes to bed thinking of Peter the Great and wakes up thinking of Stalin.”

It’s not just how fond he seemed of Congress that is what makes Rogers’, who represents Lansing, Brighton, Howell and parts of Northern Oakland County, announcement so surprising, but his fondness in particular for the House of Representatives. In fact, there was speculation last year that the reason he didn’t jump into the race for Carl Levin’s open Senate seat was because he enjoyed his job in the House so much.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT – Seven-term Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan says he won't seek re-election.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced his plans on Friday morning during an interview on Detroit radio station WJR-AM. He says he'll serve out the end of his term and plans to start a national radio program.

Last year, Rogers had said he would not run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan this year, saying the best way for him to make a difference in Washington is staying in the House.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette kicked off his reelection campaign today in his hometown of Midland.

In his speech, Schuette touted his record in office, including efforts to combat human trafficking and protect pensions.

“A record that’s strong and clear. It’s a record of being a voice for victims. A voice for the constitution and a voice for Michigan,” says Schuette. “It’s a long election and I’m going to win. I’m going to take my case to the citizens across the state of Michigan.”

Schuette didn’t directly address the controversy over same-sex marriage.

The political campaign ad season is upon us. We’ve already seen the first trickle of ads here in Michigan, but we know the spigot is barely open at this point.

And, this brings us to an interesting court case out of Ohio that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in just over a month. At issue is whether a state can preemptively enforce a ban on a supposedly false and misleading political advertisement.

This started when the Republican independent committee the Susan B. Anthony List wanted to put up a billboard that accused an Ohio congressman of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions. The Congressman cried foul under an Ohio law that forbids knowingly or recklessly making false or misleading statements about candidates.

The billboard never went up after the congressman threatened to file a legal complaint. But the Susan B. Anthony List and some other groups challenged the law. That lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality and that was upheld by the U.S Sixth. Circuit Court of Appeals – of which Michigan is a part.

It looks like a referendum on the controversial issue of wolf-hunting is headed to the November ballot – again. This will be the second hunting-related ballot question (and, possibly, not the last) voters will decide in a little less than eight months.

The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Campaign turned in petition signatures to the state Bureau of Elections just yesterday. It takes 161,305 signatures, and we can reasonably expect the campaign has enough names. Because, after all, they’ve done this before.

Most recently, just last year, when Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed enough signatures to suspend and challenge the first Michigan wolf hunting law adopted after the gray wolf was taken off the federal endangered species list. That is the first referendum challenge and it is already on the November ballot.

But the Legislature, as well as Gov. Rick Snyder, would not be thwarted. They adopted a second law to allow wolf hunting (among other things), and that is the target of this newest referendum campaign.

There was an interesting article this week in The New York Times with a strong focus on politics in Michigan. It dealt with a particular aspect of the Democratic Party’s trouble winning in off-presidential years: the coveted white male voter. Yes, working class, high school-educated, married white men are wanted.

Republicans, in fact, have relied on dominance among white males to win elections for many, many years now. And a lot has been made of the fact that right now Republicans are facing big troubles winning over minority voters - African American, Hispanic - as well as immigrants and single women, a weakness that Democrats have been able to use.

But Democrats have been, for many years, losing the white male vote. Remember the Reagan Democrats? White, blue collar, many of them union members, with a strong presence in southeast Michigan and, over time, they stopped being Reagan Democrats and just became Republicans.

Exit polls from The Washington Post show President Obama lost white voters by 20 points in 2012 to Mitt Romney, the largest losing margin among whites in 30 years. Now, of course, every election is different. We know not as many voters will cast a ballot in 2014 as 2012 because it’s a midyear election when the presidential race isn’t on top of the ballot which creates, in turn, less voter excitement.

... and in Hawaii, and in Minnesota.

Allan Levene, a naturalized U.S. citizen from London, England, is running for Congress in four different states.

He can do that.

The U.S. Constitution states that to be a representative in Congress, you only have to live in the state when you are elected.

Levene says if he doesn't win the primary this May in Georgia, where he lives now, he's going to try his luck in Michigan, Hawaii, and Minnesota.

Why? 

Earlier this week, the newspapers and airwaves were full of tributes to John Dingell, who announced this term would be his last.

Dingell, who turns 88 this summer, is the longest-serving Congressmen in history, and when I first met him, was one of the physically most powerful men in Congress.

Today, he is hard of hearing and frail, but nobody has ever said he wasn’t mentally able to do the job.

This hasn’t always been the case with long-serving congressmen. During his last campaign for the U.S. Senate at age 94, South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond spoke of the brave defenders of the Alamo, and added that they had held off “three thousand Russians.”

Thurmond’s handlers didn’t let him speak much in public after that. He won reelection, but spent most of his final term in Walter Reed Hospital, except when they brought him to the Senate to vote.

Nobody likes to talk about this, but there seems to have been a universal consensus that Dale Kildee, who decided not to run for reelection two years ago, needed to leave.

There’s a reason you haven’t seen him interviewed or commenting on issues since he left. He is, in fact, younger that John Dingell, but not all of us age at the same rate.

I know a woman in her 60s who no longer knows who her husband is.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

"I am not leaving Congress. I am coming home to Michigan."

With those words, Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, has announced he is leaving Congress after serving more than 58 years.

Dingell was first elected in 1955 to the House seat that had been held by his late father.

The 87-year-old Dearborn Democrat has gone on to carve out his own piece of American history: No one has ever served longer in Congress.

Michigan Radio political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us to talk about Dingell's legacy.

You can listen to our conversation with him below:


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage will now begin collecting signatures.

A state panel gave the petition campaign the OK to go ahead. The Board of State Canvassers said the petition complies with the law, and now the campaign has until mid-May to collect 258,000 valid signatures. That would put the question to the Legislature. If lawmakers don’t adopt it, then it would go on the November ballot.

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