It's Just Politics

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It’s like November in September as absentee ballots in Michigan are in the mail and, for some, voting has already begun.

If history is any guide, about a quarter of Michigan voters will vote using an absentee ballot, even though some will probably lie to do it because not everyone can legally cast an absentee ballot in Michigan.

Michigan’s 1st Congressional District is huge - almost 25,000 square miles - and it is where, with the pending retirement of Republican Congressman Dan Benishek, former Marine Corps General Jack Bergman – a Republican – is facing former Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson.

Democrats in Michigan are breathing a sigh of relief now that the fight over straight-ticket voting in Michigan is over. For now, at least.

The U.S. Supreme Court torpedoed Republican efforts on Friday to deep-six a Democratic advantage in the Michigan election process.

There is a saying in politics that three-quarters of what you do in a campaign doesn’t matter -- you just don’t know which three quarters until after the campaign is over.

That’s because there are so many variables that can make a difference once the voting starts, so candidates, campaigns, and political parties do all they can to gain every marginal advantage.

How much of a role will the state of Michigan’s economy play in deciding your vote in November? Last week, the presidential candidates acted as if it might be a big deal as they both made stops in Michigan to deliver speeches on jobs and the economy. 

Michigan, and Detroit, in particular, remain economically emblematic. But there are two stories to tell and the candidates each packed a different one for the trip. 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both coming to Michigan this week which begs the question: is Michigan in play come November?

After tomorrow's congressional and legislative primaries, just 97 days remain until Election Day 2016. Of course, it's never too early to look ahead to the 2018 elections and, at least one petition campaign is already making plans in that direction.

There’s a new chief for the embattled state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) but the effort to restore confidence to the agency that was a huge part of the Flint water crisis is off to a rocky start.

The Michigan Legislature meets today, but don't hold your breath expecting a whole lot to happen.

Our It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta joined us today to take a look at the attendance card for the state Legislature. 

Clark told us that the House is scheduled to meet 80 days while the Senate scheduled 83, for a total of 163 days this session. That's more than 40 days short of the average 205 days per session. 

The sultry days of summer are no break from politics. In fact, the state Legislature’s summer recess is becoming a political wedge itself.

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced that if Governor Snyder wants to appeal a court decision over teacher pay, he's on his own.

Many in Michigan are viewing the announcement as a sign that the relationship between the AG and the governor, once icy, has now all but frozen over.

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to set the scene, Governor Snyder on Wednesday signed the new $38.8 billion state budget. 

There were some unexpected revenue shortfalls to deal with. State revenues came up more than $300 million short, largely due to corporate tax credits. There was also a $100 million spike in Medicaid payments. 

The latest re-invention of public schools in Detroit is underway with the state trying yet again to overhaul the district facing huge financial and academic difficulties.

But it’s still too early to declare victory.

This new plan out of Lansing is without the support of legislative Democrats, the Detroit delegation and Mayor Mike Duggan. But it does return the Detroit public schools back to the control of a locally elected school board. This is coming after many state appointed emergency managers over seven years have tried but failed to turn around the district.

The group that’s trying to legalize marijuana in Michigan is telling the state: See you in court.

And the outcome of the challenge could have a huge impact on politics, law-making, and future elections in Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to make the best of it as a plan he endorsed to try and save the Detroit Public Schools is starting to look like it isn’t going to happen.

The Detroit Public Schools are in financial crisis. The district could go into default - bankruptcy is even an option - if the the state Legislature doesn’t adopt a bailout plan this month. If that happens, it’s possible tens of thousands of students in the city could be without a school to go to come fall.

The week after Memorial Day is when Michigan’s political and business leaders pack up and head north to Mackinac Island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference.

Mackinac is a major political event where political fundraisers are as ubiquitous as horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and complimentary cocktails.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The future is cloudy for groups fighting to get those marijuana and anti-fracking proposals on the November ballot in Michigan.

The House last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 776, which sets a strict 180-day window for groups to collect signatures on ballot initiatives and constitutional amendment petitions. 

Donald Trump is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee so, what does that portend for Republicans further down the ballot?

For Donald Trump to win the presidency, he’ll have to change the Electoral College map to win states Republicans don’t usually win. And, based on Trump’s apparent appeal to blue collar voters in old Rust Belt states, Michigan is high on that list.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller endorsed Trump last week.

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

We check in with Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team for a roundup of the past week’s political news.

Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark talk about the large pool of money the state house and senate are at odds over for Detroit Schools. They also discuss “rebuttable presumption” and whether or not petition signatures that are more than 180 days old should be counted.

There is no agreement at the state Capitol about how to fix Detroit’s schools and time is growing short as the possibility of a default looms. But, it’s not Republicans versus Democrats on this one. This is a showdown between Republicans.

Steven Johnson was surprised to learn he might be heading to Lansing next year to represent Michigan's 72nd District.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It took 15 hours and an all-nighter, but the state House narrowly managed to approve a package of six bills aimed at fixing the Detroit Public Schools. 

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sit down with us today to talk about the bills, and about how the House and Senate have different views about how to keep DPS doors open. 

President Obama is planning to fly into Flint later this week to check in on the response to the city’s drinking water crisis and Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t plan to follow along on the presidential visit.

So, the question becomes: can the governor of Michigan really altogether snub the president of the United States?

Snyder has certainly tried to lay an equal share of the blame for what went wrong in Flint on problems caused by the federal government and its layers of bureaucracy.

Governor Snyder left for Europe this weekend in a quest for jobs and economic investment for Michigan but he’s also heading overseas in an effort to reclaim the two and half years he has left in office.

Since January, Snyder has basically been the governor of Flint (not that Flint residents are too happy about that).

A taxpayer-financed prison from the tough-on-crime era is back in the news. The Northlake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan has been a conundrum for taxpayers since it was opened in 1999 (amid more than a little controversy).

As if their relationship wasn’t complicated enough already, now Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is threatening to take Governor Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan to court.

There were political fireworks at two hearings in Washington D.C. last week that overshadowed the almost simultaneous beginning of hearings by a state legislative committee on the Flint water crisis.

Remember that time when there was just nothing better than being a Republican governor? When it was almost a given that the next Republican candidate for president would come from the current or former GOP Gubernatorial ranks?

Donald Trump in Warren and Bernie Sanders in Traverse City.
Photos by Jake Neher from MPRN (left), Todd Church from Flickr / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The official vote totals are still not quite finalized, but it was a shocking – some are saying historic – night for the Democrats in the Michigan Primary. Donald Trump continued to hold serve on the Republican side, winning the Great Lakes State by a comfortable margin, but it was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win over Hillary Clinton that dominated the headlines on Wednesday morning.

New emails from the Snyder administration about the Flint water crisis have been voluntarily released and the revelations have not been kind to Governor Snyder and his inner circle.

Some folks profoundly unhappy with Governor Rick Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis will make another attempt at launching a petition drive to recall him.

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