Kerry Bentivolio

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An ad run by Democrat Bobby Mckenzie in Michigan's 11th Congressional District race won a dubious distinction recently.  The Washington Post called it "one of the most brutal attack ads you'll ever see."

"Foreclosure King David Trott has made millions foreclosing on Michigan's families," says a narrator, over a slightly ominous soundtrack.  "Trott profited from human misery as tens of thousands of Michiganders were evicted from their homes."

USFWS Midwest

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what could happen to the state Legislature after the election, possible surprises in congressional races and the wolf hunting proposal votes which may not matter.


Kerry Bentivolio / bentivolioforcongress.com

 

There's a political battle brewing in Michigan's 11th Congressional District.

Put simply: A Republican Congressman who was thumped in the primary decided to mount a write-in campaign, even though it could drain off enough votes to send the Democratic candidate to Washington.

Republican Kerry Bentivolio, sometimes known as "the accidental congressman," was the only Michigan congressman to lose his primary in August. That means new faces are running for the 11th District seat: Republican Dave Trott, who beat Bentivolio in the primary, and Democrat Bobby McKenzie. 

 

Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler has been following the race. He says while McKenzie is a relative newcomer, Trott has deep ties to local political circles and strong backing by the mainstream Republican party. 

Michigan Supreme Court

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a new report saying a quarter of Michigan homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages, Republican congressional candidate David Trott’s rough week and the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision not to reconsider parole hearings for juvenile lifers.


We are now a week and a half away from Election Day and this is the breakout time in any campaign season. The closing days when candidates and campaigns make their final pitches to try and close the deal with voters.

Although a lot of voters have already voted. As many as a third of the ballots in Election 2014 will be absentee ballots filled out before November 4th actually arrives.

Closing Arguments Coming Earlier

And that means as many as a third of Michigan voters have already made up their minds and won’t wait for November and the campaigns’ closing arguments. The fact that so many voters now use absentee ballots has pushed up the late-campaign attack ads; the ones that are really jarring.

Bobby McKenzie, Democrat running in Michigan’s 11th Congressional district, recently released an ad attacking his Republican opponent David Trott. It’s an ad that The Washington Post called “one of the most brutal attack ads you’ll even see.”

The three candidates running for Congress in the 11th District agreed on very little at a forum in Birmingham Monday - except the failure of the fourth candidate, businessman David Trott, to appear.

Bobby McKenzie, running as a Democrat, says he disagrees with many of the positions taken by  his opponents, "but showing up matters, and the three of us showed up. 

Mr. Trott was supposed to be here - didn't show up.  What kind of representative do you think he's gonna be?" he told a crowd at Seaholm High School.

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.

Today is Election Day in local communities all across Michigan. But politicians being politicians, many are already looking ahead to next year’s statewide and congressional elections.

For everyone in the game, deciding whether to run is a matter of weighing hope versus experience; ambition against common sense. Sometimes, long shots pay off. On paper, it made no sense for a freshman senator to run for President six years ago, and not just because there was a formidable front-runner. 

The challenger was black. I thought his candidacy was hopeless. But as the world knows, I was gloriously wrong. However, back in 2000, Barack Obama was the one who was wrong. He challenged an incumbent congressman in a primary race. He lost by more than 2-1, drained his finances and strained his marriage for a time. Every situation is different.

But now, one of Michigan’s potentially biggest stars faces her own dilemma. Few have accomplished as much at a relatively early age as Jocelyn Benson. Barely 36 years old, she is already interim dean of Wayne State University law school. She has degrees from Wellesley, Oxford and Harvard Law. She has a stunning resume that includes stints working for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, NPR and the revered federal appeals judge Damon Keith. 

Bobby McKenzie / Facebook

A former State Department official announced today he will begin his campaign for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District.

Bobby McKenzie, a Democrat known for his counterterrorism expertise, is running for the seat currently held by Republican Kerry Bentivolio.

primerates.com

Last night’s vote to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling divided Michigan’s Republican congress.

The legislation reopens the government through Jan. 15th and permits the U.S. Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7th or perhaps a month longer.
 

Congress faced a midnight deadline Thursday. That's when U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

Everyone knows there’s a war between the parties going on right now in Congress and in Washington, a war that has shut down the national parks and large parts of the federal government.

But there’s also a war going on within the Republican Party, a war being fought on battlefields from Washington to Lansing to Canton and Grand Rapids. It’s a war for the party’s mind and soul.

Essentially, it’s a war between the Tea Party Republicans and the party’s more traditional conservatives, especially the business community. Right now, the Tea Party seems to be winning. For a while, that had the regular Republicans concerned. They know that if extremists are the face of the party, they can say goodbye to any hopes of recapturing the White House, and probably also the U.S. Senate.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The reelection chances of three Michigan congressmen might be hurt by the federal government shutdown.

The poll numbers show Republican Congressmen Tim Walberg, Kerry Bentivolio and Dan Benishek all trailing significantly behind a generic Democratic opponent. 

Candice Miller's official website

All nine of Michigan’s Republican members of Congress voted for House legislation that would defund the Affordable Care Act

The bill is a part of a recent political ultimatum coming from Republican lawmakers: either cut Obamacare or shut down the government.

The language was attached to a continuing resolution — a temporary measure that allows the government to maintain the current levels of funding to federal agencies while Congress works out a fully-fledged budget plan.

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the Medicaid expansion and Kerry Bentivolio's primary challenger.

The theme of the 11th Congressional District Republican establishment for the past couple of years might be “I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along.” (We have kindly provided a link to that tune from “The Muppet Movie” sung by Rowlf the Dog and Kermit the Frog here. But we digress.)

The usual poobahs and potentates of the Oakland and Wayne county GOP circles have had to live with Rep. Kerry Bentivolio as their Republican in Congress since November of last year. But, this week, to the surprise of absolutely no one who has been paying attention, that Establishment may have gotten its wish when businessman/attorney David Trott announced he will challenge Bentivolio in a Republican primary.

And, in this case, the challenger probably starts with the advantage.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash says he wants the House to go back into session to address potential military action against Syria.

A U.S. military strike is expected in the next few days in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Amash told a group at a Battle Creek coffee shop today that the president must consult with Congress first.

“If the president intends to use force, we expect to be called back into session,” says Amash, “We demand we be called back into session to have a vote.”

I was a college student almost forty years ago when the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. I watched those proceedings and hung on every word.

Many, perhaps even most people did. I remember crowds clustered around television sets in department stores at particularly dramatic points in the testimony. When the members finally voted to recommend impeachment, many of them did in voices breaking with emotion. They knew this was an almost unimaginably huge step.

The congressmen knew that only one other President had been impeached in history – Andrew Johnson, more than a century before. They also knew that history had judged very harshly those congressmen and senators who supported removing that president, and praised those who managed to stop his conviction.

Impeachment, those congressmen knew, was the nuclear option in American constitutional democracy. In the end, President Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, convicted, and removed from office, as he surely would have been.

I thought that would be the only attempt at impeaching a president I would ever see, and I was, of course, wrong. Twenty-five years later, the house actually impeached President Clinton for what really amounted to lying about sex. The senate never came close to convicting him, and the entire episode was seen as low farce.

Former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jammed with his blues band after announcing his run for the presidency over the July 4th weekend in 2011.
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

In Michigan's freaky 11th Congressional District, the Republican candidate both won AND lost on Election Day.

It all started here... when this guy's campaign imploded:

Then this reindeer rancher stepped into the race for the Republicans...

And two elections were needed to sort the mess out.

I really don’t envy anybody, with the possible exception of my dog, who is going to spend his day napping while I run around Detroit. But part of me would like to be David Curson for the next few weeks.  Dave just got himself unexpectedly elected to Congress.

Voters in the 11th Congressional District in Michigan will send a Democratic UAW activist to Congress for the lame duck session in November and December -- and a Republican Tea Party activist to Congress for the full term starting in January.

Here's how it happened.  (The "why" may never be satisfactorily answered.)

Thaddeus McCotter is the five-term Republican Congressman who until July represented the strongly Republican-leaning 11th Congressional District. 

Brian Banks has eight felony convictions on his record, for things like bad checks and credit card fraud.

His landlord had him evicted from a rental property in Harper Woods last week, saying he had written bad checks and not paid his rent. Additionally, he was evicted from a second home in that city and a court ordered him to pay a nearly $4,000 judgment.

First, the good news. A week from now, this election will be over. No more ads, no more lies, no more charges and counter-charges. Do you know one person who regrets that, or who isn’t heartily sick of the campaign at all levels, including the candidates?

If you live in the 11th Congressional District and you're confused right now - it is NOT your fault. Here's a quick recap.

The 11th Congressional District became even more Republican after the most recent redistricting. So five-term incumbent Thaddeus McCotter was considered a shoe-in. That is, until it all fell apart in July.

Turns out some of McCotter's staff didn't get the 2,000 signatures needed to get their boss on the ballot.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Kerry Bentivolio was fired from a teaching job.   In fact, Mr. Bentivolio, although he received written reprimands for yelling at students, left of his own accord.  We greatly regret the error.

 

The 11th Congressional District race is heating up.

The district was until recently represented by Thaddeus McCotter, before he resigned in a scandal over fake nominating petition signatures.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Three ballot proposals approved

Michigan voters will decide on six ballot proposals in November. The state Supreme Court rejected challenges to three out of four proposed amendments yesterday. The court approved amendments to guarantee collective bargaining rights, to require two-thirds super-majority votes in the Legislature to increase taxes, and statewide votes for any future international bridges to Canada. The proposal to authorize eight more casinos in the state was not approved.

Bentivolio wins primary in 11th disctrict

Former teacher Kerry Bentivolio won the special primary election in Michigan’s eleventh district. Bentivolio was one of four Republicans vying to complete the remainder of Thaddeus McCotter’s term in Congress. He'll face Democrat David Curson in the special general election to decide who serve the remaining few weeks in McCotter’s term. McCotter resigned in July after it was discovered that petition signatures were forged or copied in at least two of his campaigns.

Medical marijuana debate in Wyoming, Mich.

The Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming is challenging a judge’s ruling that overturned its ban on medical marijuana. The Wyoming City Manager says city council worries that medical marijuana will increase crime and cause confusion for police. Michigan’s Court of Appeals struck down Wyoming’s medical marijuana ban last month. The court says any prosecution under federal laws would be up to the federal government, not local governments.

via bentiviolioforcongress.com

Republican Kerry Bentivolio has moved on in the special election to replace Thaddeus McCotter in Michigan’s eleventh district.

Bentivolio was one of four Republicans vying to serve out the remainder of McCotter’s term in Congress.

He topped former State Senator Nancy Cassis and two others in the suburban Detroit district. He faces David Curson, the only Democrat on the ballot, in the special November general election.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter / U.S. House of Representatives

Some voters in southeast Michigan have more than November's general election to think about.

Tomorrow, is is primary day in Michigan's 11th District.

That's when voters in parts of Wayne and Oakland counties will choose a temporary replacement for Republican U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter.

He quit in July after it was discovered that petition signatures were forged or copied in at least two of his campaigns.

Five Republicans are vying for the seat. They'll face a Democrat, a Libertarian and a U.S. Taxpayers Party Candidate in the November 6th general election.

The taxpayer tab for the special election will be at least $650,000.

Low voter turnout is predicted.

Four of McCotter's former staff  members have been charged in the petition scandal.

McCotter has not been charged.

Cassis for Congress

A special election has to be held to fulfill the rest of Thaddeus McCotter's term in the U.S. House of Representatives. McCotter resigned in the wake of a nominating petition mess.

Now, one of those running for McCotter's seat says she won't actively campaign for the special Sept. 5 election. The election will determine who will represent the 11th District for the six weeks until the Nov. election.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

While former state Sen. Nancy Cassis’ name will be on a special primary ballot on Sept. 5 to fill out the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter’s congressional term, she will not actively campaign for the seat.

“I want to make clear that I will not actively campaign for the primary,” she said Monday.

So Cassis isn't campaigning, but her name will appear on the ballot along with Steve King, Kenneth Crider, Carolyn Kavanah, and Kerry Bentivolio.

Bentivolio won the August primary for the full 2-year term for a new seat in the 11th District. He'll face a Democratic challenger in Nov.

Cassis for Congress

Republican Nancy Cassis says she will run in the September 5th special election in the 11th Congressional District.

The election was called to fill the few months remaining in the term, after the resignation of Thaddeus McCotter.

Cassis lost the August primary as a write-in, and she can't run in November unless it's also as a write-in candidate.

Taj for Congress

The Democrat who won Tuesday's primary in Michigan's 11th Congressional District says he thinks he can win - even though the district is considered a Republican stronghold.

Syed Taj is a doctor who lives in Canton.

He will run against Republican Kerry Bentivolio, a teacher, former National Guard member, and farmer who raises reindeer.  Bentivolio won by a wide margin with strong Tea Party support.

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