Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Democrats and Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure as many of their fellow state residents as possible show up at the polls.

GOP spokeswoman Kelsey Knight says campaign staffers and volunteers are knocking on 200,000 doors and making 500,000 calls in this final week alone to encourage voters to show up. And to vote Republican, of course.

Democrats are doing the same, but they didn't provide specific numbers.

It's not clear what voter turnout will be like in the state, though.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Political campaigns in Michigan are turning their focus to getting out the vote.

In campaign offices across Michigan, a small army of volunteers is busy calling voters just to confirm who they’re voting for.

In the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters, volunteers use telephones which automatically dial the telephone numbers of eligible Michigan voters. 

When someone answers the phone, the volunteer’s first question is “If you are going to vote…are you going to vote for Mitt Romney…or Barack Obama?”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate continues to trend lower, but a spike in foreclosure filings may be coming this month.

August marked 22  straight months that Michigan’s year over year foreclosure numbers declined.

In fact, the number of foreclosure filings in Michigan in August fell 41 percent compared to August a year ago.   Also, none of the 20 U.S. cities with the highest home foreclosure rates are located in Michigan.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says there are signs that the trend may soon end.

Kate Wells

Vice President Joe Biden took the spotlight at Detroit’s Labor Day parade. It's one more sign that the auto bailout is shaping up as a central theme of the Obama-Biden campaign.

Last week Republican nominee Mitt Romney asked Americans if they were better off today than four years ago. Now comes part of the Democrats’ response: you sure are if you’re an auto worker.

House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Jase Bolger / Facebook.com

Democrats are calling for a special inquiry into whether House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt are guilty of ethics violations. A report by the Kent County prosecutor determined the two did not break any laws as they plotted Schmidt’s switch to the Republican Party, but the report says they did attempt to undermine the integrity of an election.

Their scheme included recruiting and paying a fake Democrat who would appear on the ballot against Schmidt. The idea was, the decoy would not campaign.   

If you need proof that our system is sometimes irrational, consider this: Westland, a mostly blue-collar Wayne County community of about 80,000 people, is short of cash, like most cities these days. But Westland is apparently going to have to spend $60,000 to hold an unexpected and virtually meaningless primary election on a Wednesday in September.

This is the first step in replacing Thaddeus McCotter, the congressman whose bizarre meltdown ended with his sudden resignation last week. Not to replace him for a full-term, but for just the few weeks remaining in his current one.

I hate to sound alarmist, but if all the proposals whose backers submitted signatures make it on the ballot and are approved by the voters, the result will destroy representative democracy in Michigan. Not only that, our economy will  probably be destroyed as well, and we will enter fully into the era of  government of special interests, by special interests, and for special  interests.

Michigan’s constitution is fatally flawed in one big way.  The framers thought there should be an opportunity for citizens to occasionally place a question before the people.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tuesday’s election did not change the balance of power in the state house. 

Two vacant state house seats were up for grabs.

Voters in Genesee County filled a vacant state house seat on Tuesday.   The seat was made vacant last fall by a union-backed campaign that succeeded in recalling Republican Paul Scott.

Last night, Republican Joe Graves defeated Democrat Steve Losey to serve out the final year of Scott’s unfinished term.     

Graves says his message of jobs lead to the victory.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The Lansing City Council will talk about the benefits of meeting less often tonight.  

The city charter requires the council to meet 50 times a year.  City Clerk Chris Swope says, with that schedule, the council is wasting money.   

“It’s not just a matter of that cost but…we should be more efficient. People shouldn’t have to watch 50 times a year to keep an eye on what the city council is doing," says Swope.   

Swope proposes reducing the current city council meeting schedule from 50 required meetings to 26 meetings each year.  

Cle0patra / Flickr

Local elections are underway across the state today. Among other votes in Michigan, two mayors of large cities will be elected, Detroiters will vote on changes to their city charter, and a state representative is up for recall. But, despite the fact that there are important issues on today's ballots, very few voters will actually make it to the polls.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst, about why voter turnout is historically low in local elections that are held in so-called "off-years."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Jackson, like other Michigan cities, will hold an election next week. And like in other cities, those elected will face the reality of how they will choose to spend a declining amount of tax dollars.  

Both candidates for mayor of Jackson are realtors. And both bring a ‘realtor’s optimism’ when they talk about their city’s future. 

Recall campaigns against the state’s elected officials have until the end of the week  to hand in petition signatures to be considered for the November ballot. There have been more than two dozen recall campaigns against Republican lawmakers, and just three against Democratic lawmakers. 

Two of those lawmakers – State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and state Representative Barb Byrum – are in the clear after an elections panel in Ingham County rejected petitions language against them. 

May 3rd Election

May 4, 2011

The voters sent an important message yesterday, to themselves and their communities, and indirectly to the politicians in Lansing. It’s a message the governor and legislature need to hear.

Specifically, the people said that they are willing to pay more for services  important to them. They aren’t necessarily happy with the way things are going or with the people running things. In West Michigan area, they tossed out a boatload of school board members.

Yet the same voters renewed a number of millage proposals, often by wide margins. Sometimes they even voted to increase their taxes, when they were convinced services were necessary.

Grand Rapids narrowly voted to increase a rapid transit millage. Hudsonville voted millions to upgrade the school system.

This trend was especially strong in Southeast Michigan. Struggling, older blue-collar suburbs like Ferndale and Hazel Park have been hard hit by declining property values and a steep drop in state revenue sharing.

Yesterday, they asked their hard-pressed citizens for new money to keep up services.

These aren’t people who have a lot of money, and many no longer have jobs. But they said yes. In tiny Clawson, the people voted more money for their library, a year after the voters in the neighboring and more affluent city of Troy voted to close theirs.

By far, the biggest story was in Southfield, a city of office towers and mostly well-maintained split-level and ranch homes north of Detroit. Seventy percent of its seventy thousand residents are African-American -- mostly middle-class families.

City leaders laid it on the line. They needed a five mill property tax increase, mostly for police and fire services, and they needed it now. Otherwise, they would have to lay off half the city’s police and firemen. Residents knew what that could mean.

They voted the additional taxes by a margin of five to one. Now, these results do not mean that the voters are in a wildly spending mood. They seemed discerning. In Flint, they voted money to keep policemen on the job, but turned down a request for new funds to reopen it the city jail. In blue-collar Garden City, home of iconic rocker Mitch Ryder, officials asked for a twelve-mill increase. Voters said that was too much. They also were reluctant to combine services, such as police and fire. They said no to that in cities as different as Jackson and Harper Woods.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Election Results

Voters went to the polls across Michigan yesterday to decide a variety of issues, from school millages, to funding for public safety, transportation, and libraries.

  • In Flint, voters renewed a millage that pays for more than a dozen police officers. Flint has struggled with a rising violent crime rate for the past few years. City police have investigated about ninety homicides in the last sixteen months, Steve Carmody reports. But, as Carmody notes, “Flint voters narrowly rejected a millage request that would have reopened the city jail. Budget problems have meant the jail has only been used sporadically since the late 1980’s.”
  • Lansing city residents voted no on a millage that would have kept public safety services from facing deep cuts. The millage would have increased city residents’ property taxes about four percent to raise about $8.5 million over five years, Sarah Alvarez reports. Lansing faces a $20 million dollar budget shortfall next year.
  • Supporters of a millage to fund and expand bus services in the Grand Rapids metro area celebrated a narrow victory last night, Lindsey Smith reports. More than 34,000 people cast ballots and the millage passed by just 136 votes. The bus system, known as The Rapid, will now be able to serve riders later at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday.
WoodleyWonderWorks / Flickr

Voters in Washtenaw County passed a special education millage renewal in yesterday's election. That means local school districts and charter schools in the county will receive about $14 million dollars for special education services. According to unofficial election results released by Washtenaw County, 76% of voters approved the millage renewal.

Heritage Newspapers reports:

The millage is specifically for special education students, who make up about 14 percent of the students within the WISD. The largest number is faced with some form of learning disability, and the second most have a speech or language impairment.

O Canada

May 3, 2011

Yesterday, America’s most important ally and trading partner had an historic election which rocked the foundations of that nation’s politics and has huge implications for the western hemisphere, the United States in general and Michigan in particular.

You would not, however, know anything about that from most of the mainstream media. National Public Radio has covered the Canadian National Election, far better than most, but I don’t even think they have paid enough attention to the story.

Most of the rest of the media, especially in Michigan, largely continues to be consumed with the aftermath of our government’s assassination yesterday of the supreme Al-Qaeda leader.

Yes, Osama bin Laden is still dead, and I don’t mean to minimize the implications of that story, or its continuing repercussions. But we knew about that yesterday.

A group opposed to Governor Rick Snyder submitted language today for a recall petition.  It’s the beginning of what may be a long process. 

The group, Michigan Citizens United, is behind the recall campaign.    Gerald Rozner is the group’s spokesman.  He says Gov. Snyder deserves to be recalled for signing legislation that gives state appointed financial managers broad powers to void city union contracts and plans to increase taxes on pensioners. 

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state House panel next week will begin the process of redrawing Michigan’s political maps. The first hearing will focus on results from the 2010 U-S Census.  

Michigan lost population over the past decade, and the state will lose a seat in the U.S. House. With Republicans controlling all branches of state government, Democrats are worried that new district lines will target a vulnerable Democratic seat like that of US Congressman Gary Peters.          

The state House Redistricting and Elections Committee is chaired by Republican Representative Pete Lund. Lund led the successful GOP push to retake the Michigan House last fall. Lund said in a statement that he looks forward to the hearings and, "a fair, effective redistricting process for our state."

Steve Carmody

A new study finds 3 Michigan congressional campaigns were swamped with outside money during the recent election.  And most of that money paid for negative ads.

National political parties, unions and special interest groups spent $19 million on issue ads leading up to the November election.   The money was focused on the 1st, 7th and 9th congressional districts, where Democrats were trying to fend off strong Republican challenges.

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo Courtesy of www.rickformichigan.com

Update 8:34 AM:

The Associated Press is reporting Govenror-elect Rick Snyder has chosen House Speaker Andy Dillon to be the state's next treasurer.  Former Lt. Gov Dick Posthumus will be his legislative affairs advisor.

7:16 AM:

Rick Snyder talking to people
Rick Snyder's campaign website

The confetti and balloons have be swept up, and the yard signs are slowly being removed.

At 12:01 pm on January 1st, 2011, Michigan will have a new governor.

Governor-elect Snyder is assembling the people that will move into positions of power in Lansing.

Snyder has chosen three former Engler administration officials to head up the transition team:

Voter turnout map
Lani Chisnell / Michigan Radio

The Secretary of State's office has released unofficial voter turnout results for all the counties in Michigan (the State Board of Canvassers will make them official later this month).

  • The voters in Leelanau county scored the best turnout rate in the state at 61.60%
  • The voters in Cass county scored the worst turnout rate in the state at 35.74%

Here are the top 5:

(Sarah Hulett, Michigan Radio)

Governor-elect Rick Snyder met this morning with the woman he'll replace in Lansing.

Snyder and Governor Jennifer Granholm shook hands and posed for pictures in front of reporters before the meeting.

"A lot of hard work in the next couple of months," Granholm said, "but I appreciate the commitment to working together that you've continually professed. I think that's going to be healthy for Michigan. Our team stands ready to do whatever it takes to make sure this is a smooth transition."

K Latham/Creative Commons


Republican Rick Snyder beat Democrat Virg Bernero in the race for governor. Snyder says the state’s economy and government have been broken for too many years and called for inclusiveness rather than divisiveness.

Michigan Legislature

It appears that Republicans have taken control of the Michigan House and added to their majority in the state Senate.  That means the GOP now controls both houses of the Michigan legislature and the Governor’s office.

Michigan Congressional Races

Photo Courtsey of rickformichigan.com

We're getting word this morning that Governor-elect Rick Snyder will meet with Govenror Granholm this morning in Detroit.  The Associated Press reports:

Snyder is expected to announce details of his transition team during an 11 a.m. news conference at the Book Cadillac hotel, then spend the rest of the day meeting with advisers and staff.

Snyder faces a projected $1.4 billion dollar deficit when he takes office on January 1st, and a state jobless rate of 13%.



K Latham / Creative Commons

Governor (race called)

  • Virg Bernero (D) 35%
  • Rick Snyder (R) 62%

Attorney General (race called)

  • David Leyton (D) 38%
  • Bill Schuette (R) 56%

Secretary of State (race called)

  • Jocelyn Benson (D) 41%
  • Ruth Johnson (R) 54%


U.S. Congress

  15th District (race called)

Update 1:53am: The race in the 9th district has been called. Gary Peters (D) has defeated Rocky Raczkowski (R).

Update: 1:07am Waiting on one race in Michigan. The race for Michigan's 9th congressional district between Gary Peters (D) and Rocky Raczkowski (R) has yet to be called. So far, of the 15 Michigan congressional districts 9 have gone to republicans and 5 have gone to democrats.

Update 11:50pm: In his victory speech Governor-elect Rick Snyder says he'll apply business principals to resolve Michigan's economic troubles, including tax cuts and smarter regulation:

Update 10:39pm: Virg Bernero talks to crowd at party

Update 10:09pm: Virg Bernero has conceded defeat. He's giving a speech now.

Update 9:30: Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says crowd needs to show Virg Bernero the "love and respect" he deserves when he comes down to make his speech.

U.S. Capitol
user kulshrax / Creative Commons

Update 11:51pm: The 7th district has been called for Republican Tim Walberg.

11:03pm: Three congressional races in Michigan remain close. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that even with the aid of key precinct data, the Free Press was unable to immediately call winners in Michigan’s 15th, 7th and 9th congressional districts.

"And now the hand wringing begins" said a nervous supporter at the Mark Schauer victory party. 

The incumbent Democratic congressman's party on the 16th floor of the McCamly Hotel is filling up.  People here are glancing more and more frequently at the TV monitors and lap top screens.   The race between Schauer and former congressman, turned challenger Republican Tim Walberg is expected to be close.   Very Close.