michigan primary

I voted sticker
Michael Bentley / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state primary results are in, so what's to come in November? This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth discuss voter turnout and races to watch on the road to Election Day. They also talk about a resurrected plan to bring regional transit funding to southeast Michigan and a dispute over the state's emergency manager law that's playing out in federal court.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas​ joined us again today to talk about this week in politics. 

Primary voter turnout

Only 19% of all voters in Michigan showed up to vote in this past Tuesday's primary election, following a 34% turnout for the presidential primary earlier this year.

Demas described the low level of voter participation as “sadly predictable.”


This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth talk about the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and whether mentions of the Flint water crisis this week were political fodder. Kruth and Lessenberry also look at some races to watch in the state primary Tuesday, and a failed attempt to put a millage to fund Detroit regional transit on the November ballot. 

Bernie Sanders speaking in Traverse City, Michigan.
Todd Church / Flickr

He may have won Michigan's Democratic primary in March, but now Sanders’ campaign wants to make sure the delegates he won, actually stick with him.

“We need to ensure delegates committing to Bernie are 100% committed Bernie supporters who will not change their vote during the second or third rounds of voting at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July,” an email sent Tuesday from the Michigan for Bernie campaign states.

“We need you to join the Michigan Democratic Party so you can be a member before the April 21st deadline.”

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.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and I talk about what Donald Trump's victory in Michigan says about our state's Republican Party, the future of John Kasich's Republican presidential campaign, and how Bernie Sanders' win was "one of the biggest upsets in state history", among other things. 

Gov. Rick Snyder in a file photo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder is holding firm to his vow to stay in office amid growing calls for his resignation.

Both Democratic presidential candidates called for Snyder to resign during their debate in Flint. It was the first time former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said he should step down over Flint’s water crisis.

The governor says that’s not going to happen.

“I’m not resigning, I’m going to solve this problem,” Snyder told reporters after an appearance in Detroit on Monday.

“I said I was sorry and I’m going to fix it.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Stumping for votes in Michigan ahead of next week’s primary, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called for a “new bargain for a new economy” at a campaign stop Friday.

Speaking from a factory floor in Detroit, Clinton said that “creating good-paying jobs and raising incomes is the defining economic challenge of our time.”

Clinton outlined a vision to meet that challenge.

She said U.S. corporations should practice “economic patriotism,” and treat workers as assets, not costs.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Four Republican presidential candidates spent a scant seven and a half minutes talking about Detroit, Flint, and manufacturing at a debate held in Detroit Thursday night.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is taking aim at free trade deals like NAFTA and the recent Trans Pacific Partnership. He says they’ve cost the country millions of jobs. And he says it’s a critical difference between him and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Our trade policies have failed,” Sanders said at a press conference today.

Sanders is looking to shore up support among unions and blue collar workers, and says he’s not opposed to trade deals but how they’ve been negotiated by Republican and Democratic administrations. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are seven primaries or caucuses between now and next Tuesday’s Michigan primary. But candidates and campaigns are already eyeing Michigan as a place to continue their roll or change their fortunes.

It is arguable that no candidate has more at stake in Michigan than Ohio Governor John Kasich. Trailing in the delegate count and yet to win a single primary or caucus, the Republican hopeful needs a win to gain credibility as the not-so-angry alternative to the Donald Trump juggernaut.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich is hoping Michigan voters will be drawn to him, by Midwestern kinship at least.

The Ohio governor campaigned in Michigan today, a day before Thursday’s big Republican debate in Detroit.

Kasich admitted, to an overflow crowd at a town hall event in Grand Blanc, that Michigan is not usually the most fertile ground for an Ohio politician to seek support. But he urged people to vote for him in next week’s Michigan primary, rather than his Republican rivals from New York, Florida or Texas.

Cle0patra / Flickr

(This story was updated at 9:55am on February 2, 2016) 

Michigan's open primary is on March 8th. 

Michigan Radio's senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry stops by Stateside to explore the nuances of  Michigan's 2016 primary with host Cynthia Canty.

Lessenberry thinks Michigan could play a major role in choosing the presidential nominees of one, or both parties this year. Others agree, including the Hillary Clinton campaign, which this weekend called for adding a Democratic debate with Senator Bernie Sanders in Flint just ahead of the primary. 

This has been an intense first week of the year in Michigan politics, with Governor Snyder signing deeply controversial bills, the Flint water crisis, and renewed concern over the impending financial collapse of the Detroit Public Schools.

I’m so old I can remember when the California presidential primary, which takes place at the beginning of June, often played a major role in choosing both parties’ nominees.

These days, the contests start nearly two years before the election, and tend to be decided by the end of March, but there’s no reason that might not be different next year.

Wikimedia Commons

Zoe Clark co-hosts Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics. She joined Stateside to talk about the primary election results.

Here are a few highlights of the interview:

  • Clark said the fight between the Republican Party and the Tea Party seems to be at a draw with winners like Justin Amash, David Trott, and Mike Bishop.
  • Proposal 1 passed.
  • It’s the end of a long political career for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
  • Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence are one step closer to seats in Congress.

*Listen to the full interview with Zoe Clark above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today is primary election day in Michigan. But one thing might be missing from the polls: voters.

Many political watchers expect very low turnout for the primary. In fact, some say Michigan could see a historic low number of voters casting ballots.

Jake Neher is the capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He said it’s too early to say what's keeping voters away from the polls.

Neher said possible reasons can vary from the crowded primaries to people being away on summer vacation.

Neher said another reason could be that there is nobody at the top of the ticket in a primary against the governor or for the U.S. Senate race.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

If you have been listening to the news much lately, you are probably aware there’s a statewide primary election next week, and a fairly interesting one at that.

Four of Michigan’s 16 congressmen are leaving this year, one to run for the Senate. Some of the others, including Justin Amash, Dan Benishek, Kerry Bentivolio and John Conyers have serious primary challenges in their own parties.

Every seat in the Legislature is up for grabs. Democrats desperately want to win at least one house back. Term limits mean that nearly one third of all the legislators have to leave.

That has meant energetic and expensive primaries in most of those districts, and a number of incumbent legislators face primary opponents as well. They include establishment Republicans fighting Tea Party challengers, and Democratic state Sens.Vincent Gregory and Virgil Smith, both are trying to fend off challenges from term-limited legislators playing musical chairs.

Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 5 is primary election day in Michigan, and across all media channels, you can find criticism of who is on the ballot and who isn’t on the ballot. On Stateside today, Jack Lessenberry and Nolan Finley talked about why our best and brightest do not run.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Nolan Finley is editorial page editor at The Detroit News.

“We really aren’t sending the best and brightest to our capitols, whether it’s Lansing or Washington,” Finley said.

He added that when he talks to some of the people running for office, and even those who may ultimately win, there is a great deal of mediocrity among the candidates. Finley says the leadership pool is really shallow, and the promising leaders don’t have enough time to develop with short term limits.

Unless you’ve been trapped in a coal mine, you may have noticed that this is an election year.

We’re less than two weeks from Michigan’s statewide primary. Once we get through that, we may have a few weeks before the airwaves are again dominated by commercials for various candidates for various offices.

I’ve been telling you about some of these, and I expect to be talking more about them before November. But I was thinking that three of the most potentially interesting leaders in the state are not on the ballot this year.

They are all women, all young, charismatic, intelligent, competent and highly educated. They also all happen to be Democrats, but that is almost a coincidence. 

Republicans have some rising women leaders as well, two of whom, Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Tonya Schuitmaker, are running for reelection to the Legislature.

Westland sometimes is in national trivia contests because it was the first city ever named after a shopping mall.

Bill Wild, Westland’s mayor for the last seven years, has been much less well-known. Perhaps until recently, that is; he is now waging a serious campaign to be elected Wayne County executive. That is, to win the Democratic primary August 5, which essentially guarantees victory in the November election.

Wild may still have more money and less name recognition than his four major rivals. But he is running second in some polls, and has one powerful argument.

“I’m the only candidate who actually has executive experience, who has run both a business and a government,” he told me a couple days ago, when I went to see him at his campaign headquarters on the east side of Detroit. 

That is somewhat true.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The deadline to register to vote in Michigan's primary is today.

On Aug. 5, Michiganders will vote in the party primaries for state House and Senate seats.

But turnout has been historically low in the primaries.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As Michigan's August 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up.

The Cook Political Report says four congressional Republicans are in tight races. Representatives Dan Benishek in the 1st, Tim Walberg in the 7th, Justin Amash in the 3rd and Kerry Bentivolio on the 11th districts are in very competitive races. Add to that the race to fill Democrat Carl Levin's Senate seat and the race for governor. All of these, according to Cook, are among the most competitive races in the country.

So who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

For the answer we turned to Page Gardner, president of the non-profit and nonpartisan Voter Participation Center. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

What happened yesterday in Detroit was truly astounding on a number of levels. More than half of the voters ignored the fourteen mayoral candidates on the ballot, and wrote in a name.



Reports of voters being turned away because they declined to check a box asking them to verify U.S. citizenship have been coming in from several areas of the state.

Michigan Radio first became aware of the situation when talking to Michigan Campaign Finance Network's Rich Robinson who said he was refused a ballot because he would not check the box. He refused because it is not legally required.  Other media sources picked up on the story. (see Free Press)

Other political groups received calls from voters complaining they had been refused the right to vote after declining to check the citizenship box.

Chad Livengood with the Detroit News reported:

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Though the state's primary was almost a week ago, the Rick Santorum campaign is continuing to dispute the primary's results. The campaign has taken their fight over the way the Michigan Republican Party apportioned two of the state's at-large delegates to the Republican National Committee.

The campaign is also organizing a rally to be held later today in front of the Michigan Republican headquarters in Lansing. Santorum supporters will call on Michigan GOP leaders to reconsider their decision to award both the party’s statewide delegates to Mitt Romney.

They say party leaders changed the rules to avoid awarding one apiece to Romney and Santorum, who ran a close second in last week’s Michigan primary and won half of the state’s congressional districts.

Last week, after the committee voted in favor of giving the two at-large delegates to Romney, Mike Cox, the state's former Attorney General - and Romney supporter - called the decision, "kind of like third world voting."

A state Republican spokesman says that decision is now in the hands of the national GOP and calls the rally a needless distraction from the focus on helping Republicans win in November.

We took a closer look at the controversy over so-called "dele-gate" on Friday. You can take a listen at the link above.