Michigan Democrats

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It’s already been a month since Election Day, but Democrats in Michigan are continuing to sort out just what happened.

It’s fair to say it wasn’t all bad for Democrats. 

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
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This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry review Election Day in Michigan including voter turnout, victories and disappointments for both parties, and what yesterday’s results could mean for the next four years.


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President Obama told a Detroit crowd Saturday that Democrats can pull off some big victories in Michigan races this Tuesday – if there’s a “sense of urgency” about getting out the vote.

The president rallied an exuberant crowd of more than 6,000 on the Wayne State University campus.

He urged them to sustain that energy over the next three days, and use it to get fellow Democrats to the polls.      

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss who’ll be more hurt by low voter turnout on Tuesday, more Congressional race surprises, and a Detroit developer who dropped $3.1 million on some of the city's worst properties.


Kenny Karpov / via Facebook

With just days to go before the election, the Michigan Governor’s race appears too close to call.

But one thing is for sure: if Democrat Mark Schauer is going to have a shot, voters in heavily-Democratic Detroit need to turn out.

Even though Michigan politics have changed a lot over the years, that one fact has stayed pretty much the same for Democrats in statewide races.

First Lady Michelle Obama headlined a campaign event for Michigan Democrats in Detroit Friday.

The First Lady got a warm, energetic reception from the crowd at the Detroit Music Hall.

She encouraged them to sustain that energy right through election day.

Mrs. Obama praised the Democrats running at the top of the ticket: Mark Schauer for Governor, and Gary Peters for US Senate.  

She told the crowd that Democrats fare better when voter turnout is high—and it’s especially important in Detroit.

My guess is that Jerry Cannon is pretty upset today, and so are Pam Byrnes, Eric Schertzing and Bobby McKenzie.

They are all Democratic candidates for Congress in Michigan. They’ve been working their tails off for months trying to make some headway, three of them against Republican incumbents.

Cannon, a Vietnam veteran and former Kalkaska sheriff, was heavily recruited for the race by Lon Johnson, the new Democratic state chair. McKenzie, an anti-terrorism expert, and gave up a good job with the state department to come back and run.

Some years ago, I was studying some primitive TV campaign ads. One of them featured candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower being asked by a housewife, "Well, the Democrats have made mistakes, but weren't their intentions good?"

Squinting at cue cards, the nearsighted Ike replied woodenly, "Well, if you have a school bus driver who goes off the road, hits a pole and lands in a ditch you don't say his intentions are good. You get a new bus driver." 

Last night I thought it might be a good idea to send that ad to Governor Rick Snyder, with a note: Think about Aramark.

The Michigan Democratic Party is expanding its effort to kickstart the absentee voting process online.

Party officials announced Thursday that voters statewide can now apply for absentee ballots online, through the website miabsentee.com.

The site is designed for mobile internet devices. MDP chair Lon Johnson said this is about merging two trends: more people choosing absentee voting, and the growing use of mobile devices.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

Republicans and Democrats held their state party conventions over the weekend.

The GOP met in the Detroit suburb of Novi. Democrats were in Lansing. Their purpose was to nominate a slate of statewide candidates, and promote party unity going into November, and they succeeded. Partially.

The conventions’ legal purpose is to select candidates for the November ballot, but they’re also a chance to fire up the party faithful. And there’s always a goal of broadcasting the impression of an excited, unified party, and, frankly, to avoid big drama that makes big news.

Both major political parties have their state conventions this week. Republicans are meeting in Novi; Democrats in Lansing.

There’s always an element of the high school reunion about these conventions; people, including the press, look forward to them in part because they get to see old friends.

However, there are also squabbles.

Most of this year’s focus has been on the Republican gathering, where Tea Party insurgents are attempting to throw Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley off the ticket.

Democrats, however, have their own struggle behind the scenes.

In case you are new to this, these conventions actually nominate most of each party’s candidates for statewide office.

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.

Today marks the 1,000th day that Amir Hekmati has been in an Iranian prison. U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, joined us to discuss what is being done to free the Michigan Marine. 

And it's morel hunting season in Michigan. A top morel hunter and chef joined us on the program today.

Next, the BBC's Justin Webb went for a test drive in one of Google's driverless cars. 

Then, the Republican's minimum-wage bill cleared the state Senate last week, and could demolish Raise Michigan's petition drive that would set minimum wage even higher. 

T-shirts at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Should the Democratic Party in Michigan be looking for a new ally– one that is traditionally seen as having closer ties with the GOP?

MLive columnist Rick Haglund thinks the answer is yes. He thinks that Democrats in Michigan would be wise to join forces with big business. 

And, Mark Brewer, former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, agrees. 

They both joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

MIGOP / Instagram

Gov. Rick Snyder put services for immigrants and seniors at the top of his to-do list for 2014 in his State of the State speech yesterday.

The governor also promised to extend pre-school to every child in the state that wants to attend, and trumpeted the state’s economic recovery as he prepares to seek a second term.

"We are reinventing Michigan," Snyder said. "Michigan is the comeback state."

Snyder noted that hiring is up, and more people are looking for work — although Michigan still has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates and many families living in poverty.

But the governor says things are getting better and the state’s improved budget position and the prospect of a revenue surplus is evidence of that. He said much of that money — more than a billion dollars over the next three years — should be used on infrastructure, investments, and savings. But he also said taxpayers should get some of it back.

“There’s going to be some opportunity for tax relief,” Snyder said.

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Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his fourth State of the State address tomorrow night. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics, talk about what we can expect to hear in the governor’s address.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Incensed Democrats and abortion rights advocates are vowing that Republican lawmakers overreached so much with new restrictions on abortion coverage in Michigan's public and private health insurance plans that it'll cost them in next elections.

A ballot drive to override the law is being considered. If enough signatures are collected, the statewide vote would coincide with November elections and keep the issue fresh in voters' minds.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Labor Day weekend signals an end to summer, and this week the Legislature returns to a full-time schedule.

The first order of business is final votes on expanding Medicaid.

Legislative leaders hope to wrap up the controversial question of expanding Medicaid to thousands of working poor people. The Senate has to vote on whether the coverage will begin January first, and a House vote is needed to send the bill to Governor Rick Snyder.

For some time, there has been growing discontent among Michigan Democrats. The state has become reliably Democratic in presidential elections.

Republicans have won only one statewide race for the U.S. Senate in the last forty years. But below that level, Democrats have a stunning record of failure. Republicans hold the governor’s office, as they have for more than two-thirds of the last half-century.

Republicans control the Supreme Court and both houses of the state legislature. Democrats haven’t controlled the state senate for thirty years, and today don’t even have a third of the seats.

Those numbers -- and even stronger unhappiness among organized labor -- helped foster a revolt in the party that led to the ouster of longtime party chair Mark Brewer last February, and the election of Lon Johnson, a 42-year-old whirlwind, as his successor.

Everyone knows, of course, that Rick Snyder was elected governor three years ago. And by now it is safe to say that everyone has an opinion about him. Some think he is saving the state.

Others are vowing to do everything they can to prevent him from winning a second term. But stop for a minute.

Do you remember who Snyder defeated to be elected governor in the first place? Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the Democratic nominee in what was an impossible year for his party.

Debbie Dingell decides against 2014 US Senate run

Apr 20, 2013
Wayne State University

Democratic national committeewoman Debbie Dingell says she has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat that opened up with Carl Levin's impending retirement.

Official portrait

State House Democrats spent “tax day” pushing a plan to repeal several state tax policies.
 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Democrats announce budget priorities

State House Democrats announced a new set of priorities for the state budget yesterday.

“The Democrats’ plan calls for $1.5 billion in new spending on education, tax cuts for middle-class residents and seniors, and small business investments. They say they would pay for that partly by eliminating government waste and cutting corporate tax breaks,” Jake Neher reports.

Consultants recommend changes to Detroit city departments

A restructuring firm hired by the city of Detroit has presented two proposals to re-shape city departments to a city-state advisory board.

“One proposal would downsize the City Council, and make its members part-time. The other suggests ways to consolidate the Police Department,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports.

Safety violations at fault for natural gas explosion in Royal Oak

In a letter to state regulators, Consumers Energy said utility workers failed to follow company protocols in the lead-up to a deadly natural gas explosion in Royal Oak earlier this year.

“The utility says workers didn't follow procedures as they replaced a gas main near the house, and then left the area after smelling gas,” reports Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton.

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One month ago, Mark Brewer lost his job.

In February, the longtime leader of the Michigan Democratic Party withdrew from the race for party chair at the Democratic Party's convention in Detroit.

Lon Johnson replaced Brewer as the elected chairman.

Johnson is from southeast Michigan and recently lost a race for a state House seat in 2012.

He's worked on Congressman Dingell's campaign. He currently lives in Kalkaska.

For Johnson supporters, he represents a new era of ideas and a fresh energy that the state's Democratic party needed.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The new leader of the Michigan Democratic Party says it has time to agree on top-flight candidates to replace Sen. Carl Levin and take on Gov. Rick Snyder.

Lon Johnson told The Associated Press that he takes exception to the notion that Snyder is safe because no Democrats have stepped forward to run for governor and the party has to focus on holding Levin's seat.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, primary voters in Genesee County will narrow down the field of candidates to fill an open state senate seat.

There are seven candidates on the 27th state senate district primary ballot, though one has dropped out of the race.

On the Democratic side, State representatives Woodrow Stanley and Jim Ananich are facing off against Genesee County Commissioner Ted Henry and GM auto worker Chris Del Morone.

At a recent public forum, Stanley echoed the comments of his fellow Democratic candidates in hoping for a change at the state capitol.

Graham Davis / flickr

Each week we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Governor Snyder has chosen his replacement for the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge David Viviano fills the seat left open after the resignation of Diane Hathaway after a bank fraud scandal involving the short sale of property in Grosse Pointe.

And, the Michigan Republican and Democratic parties elected their leadership. The Democratic party saw its longtime chair, Mark Brewer, concede victory to Lon Johnson. What could Johnson's leadership mean for the Democratic party in Michigan?

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Over the weekend, both the Democratic and Republican parties held their conventions.

The 18-year run for Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer has come to an end. Brewer will be replaced by Lon Johnson, of Kalkaska.

On the other side of the aisle Republican Chairman Bobby Schostak was reelected.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

You can listen to the full Stateside interview above.

DETROIT (AP) - The longtime leader of the Michigan Democrats is losing his job.

Mark Brewer on Saturday withdrew from the race for party chairman at the state Democratic Party convention in Detroit. He said he wishes challenger Lon Johnson all the best.

Brewer announced his decision to thousands of delegates rather than continue an uphill climb to retain his seat after unions and Michigan's Democratic congressional delegation got behind Johnson. Brewer said he wishes Johnson all the best.

Governor faces lower approval numbers and a billboard

Feb 22, 2013
Courtesy: Michigan Democrats

Yesterday afternoon, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer announced a new billboard which they're hoping may capitalize on lower approval numbers for Governor Rick Snyder.

The strategically placed billboard is on I-96 – between Lansing and Brighton. Brewer estimates 160,000 commuters every week will see the billboard including (if he’s looking) the governor himself.

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