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Michigan Democrats

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.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

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.

Democrats call for repealing some state taxes

Apr 15, 2013
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.

Michigan's 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.

michigandems.com

A day before Governor Rick Snyder gives his third State of the State address, state Democrats voiced a laundry list of criticisms of Snyder and Republican lawmakers.

State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel talked on Tuesday about what he calls the “Real State of the State”.

He said Michigan Republicans have given corporations too many breaks at the expense of middle-class families.

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.

Michigan House Democrats

Since most of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Michigan has been facing the ongoing of issue of implementing a Michigan health care exchange.

While Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has long called for the state to move ahead with the exchanges, many Republicans in the legislature are pushing back.

There is also a call from Republican members of the legislature and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, to wait until after the election in November to move forward.

Courtesy photo / Michigan Democratic Party

A Michigan house representative, who made a controversial switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party last month, will face a political novice in the fall.

Winnie Brinks filed paperwork today to run as a Democrat. She’s a case worker at a non-profit organization, and she’s never run for political office before.

“I think it’s time for some new eyes. It seems that the direction we’re heading in Lansing is not what our middle class needs; it’s not what our schools need. And not being part of that negative history, sure, I think that’s a good thing,” Brinks said.

Brinks has lived in Grand Rapids for 22 years. The 44-year-old has three daughters, aged 11, 14, and 16. She’s active in her public schools’ legislative committee and once worked for Godfrey Lee Public Schools. She says restoring education funding would be one of her top priorities.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but I am confident we can do it. We’ve got a lot of good energy. We’ve got a lot of support behind me,” Brinks said.

Several hundred people will need to write in Brinks name on the August primary ballot in order for her name to appear on the ballot in the general election in November.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Democrats in Kent County are asking for an investigation after a state representative switched political parties this week.

Longtime Democrat Roy Schmidt from Grand Rapids switched parties to run as a Republican Tuesday.

22-year old Matt Mojzak filed to run in the district which includes Grand Rapids. The Secretary of State’s office says Mojzak changed his address from one in neighboring Ottawa County to one within the district just this week. But the affidavit says Mojzak had lived at the Kent County address for 22 years.

Michigan’s presidential primary is tomorrow, and the safest prediction one can make is this: Most of us won’t vote in it.

The primary four years ago drew barely 20 percent of eligible voters, and that’s when both parties had a contested nomination. This year, only Republicans do.

There is technically a Democratic primary, but President Obama’s name is the only one on the ballot -- though you can also cast a non-binding vote for uncommitted Democratic delegates.

User: Jeremy Peters / flickr

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is only two weeks away.

On February 28, Republicans and Democrats can go out and vote for their nominee for President. That’s because Michigan is what you’d call an “open state.” Once you get to the polls all you have to do is request either a Republican or Democrat ballot.

Eleven Republican presidential candidates are on the ballot so far. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat.

Yesterday, while everyone was focusing on the details of  Governor Snyder’s budget proposal, I was struck instead by something Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley said about it.

The state needs to “resist the temptation to go back to the old way because the old way did not serve us well.” And it’s impossible to disagree with that, whatever your politics or ideology.

The Michigan Democratic Party is changing course and allowing Democrats to vote in the Feb. 28 presidential primary and also participate in the May caucus. The change was announced Saturday. Party Chairman Mark Brewer says there's no need to have President Barack Obama's name on the primary ballot, but the secretary of state insists it must be there under Michigan law.
    

The Secret Primary

Jan 11, 2012

Well, we now know who won the New Hampshire primary. Michigan’s Republican primary is going to be held February 28. Democrats will pick their delegates in caucuses four months from now, on May 5. There isn’t any urgency for them; they have only one candidate: President Barack Obama.

So Republicans are using a primary; Democrats a caucus. But there is another primary election you probably don’t know about—and which Michigan Democrats don’t want you to find out about. It is also being held February 28.

Democratic leaders in the state Legislature say making Michigan a "right-to-work" state would give many families a reason to leave the state.

Supporters of Michigan being a right-to-work state say it would help attract businesses, especially if Indiana and other neighboring states also adopt right-to-work policies. And  supporters cite examples of right-to-work states that have flourished because they got rid of compulsory union dues for workers.

Democratic House Minority Leader Rick Hammel said those examples are misleading.   

“You can slant it whatever way you want, but there are other cases that show it’s not true," said Hammel. "If you’re looking for investment in the state, you want to make sure you have a great, healthy education system. We’ve done a horrible job of making sure we have that. You want to make sure you attract young, talented people… you’re pushing people away, but yet you think you can do it by a right-to-work law. That’s not going to happen.”

Hammel said he thinks the policies approved by Republican state lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder will be unpopular with voters in Legislative elections this year.

Michigan Democrats plan to endorse their candidates for the state Supreme Court and statewide education boards on March 10.

The Michigan Democratic Party announced the move Thursday. It will allow Democrats to get a head start on campaigning in those races for the November 2012 election.

The endorsements will come several months before Democrats can officially nominate candidates to run for those offices. Nominating conventions typically are scheduled for August or later.

Democrats also used an endorsement convention to get a head start on campaigning for some races in 2010.

Democrats plan to endorse three candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court during the March event at Cobo Center in Detroit.

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