Politics & Government

Election 2012
10:43 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Santorum speaks to campaign gathering in Grand Rapids

Rick Santorum speaks to his campaign gathering in Grand Rapids.
Rick Pluta MPRN

Rick Santorum gave a speech to his supporters at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids.

He said his campaign put up a good fight in his opponent's backyard.

"The people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates in Michigan, and all I have to say is I love them back," said Santorum.

NPR's Don Gonyea characterized the speech as a concession speech even though he didn't formally congratulate his opponent in the speech. Santorum could pick up Michigan delegates depending on how votes in Michigan's 14 congressional districts shake out.

Santorum spent part of the speech talking about energy and how President Obama is keeping a lid on traditional energy exploration in the U.S. to the detriment of the economy.

We'll have more later from MPRN's Rick Pluta.

Election 2012
9:15 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney wins Arizona, Michigan race tight

Mitt Romney.
Matthew Reichbach Flickr

As predicted, Mitt Romney has won the Arizona primary.

From the New York Times:

Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in Arizona, based on preliminary exit polling, but is locked in a tight battle with Rick Santorum in Michigan, a crucial electoral battleground where Mr. Romney's home-town advantage has all-but evaporated.

Mr. Romney's victory in Arizona will earn him 29 delegates, extending the lead he already enjoys over his rivals. The win comes after his rivals largely conceded that the former Massachusetts governor would win the border state.

The race is Michigan, also as predicted, is neck and neck.

Election 2012
8:51 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Romney camp feeling good about the odds tonight

Waiting for results at Romney's campaign party in Michigan.
Laura Weber MPRN

Vote tallies are starting to come in for Michigan’s Republican primary election.

Early results show Rick Santorum with a slim lead over his rival Mitt Romney.

But Romney’s supporters in southeast Michigan say they’re optimistic and feeling good about the Michigan-native’s odds.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is heading up Romney’s campaign efforts in the state. Schuette says he is disgusted that Santorum encouraged Democrats to vote in the GOP primary against Romney.

“I think that’s stupid, and I think most people view that as cynicism or hypocrisy in its worst form. I don’t get too stressed by it. What it really does show is there’s something in the air of desperation from the other side,” said Schuette.

But Schuette says he thinks Romney will walk away with a win in Michigan tonight.

Election 2012
6:30 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Picking a winner in Michigan's primary: not as simple as you might think

In a race that's as close and contentious as Michigan's Republican primary has shaped up to be, one would hope that after the dust settles at the end of election day, a winner will have emerged and we can all start speculating about the next group of states set to vote on Super Tuesday (even if Michigan has secretly been enjoying all the extra media attention).

But as MPRN's Rick Pluta told Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark earlier today, it's not quite that simple.

According to Pluta, "winning"  in Michigan really depends on whether you're talking about taking the popular vote  or the delegate count.

With the way the State's primary is set up, the two don't necessarily have to be won by the same candidate.

Pluta explains that Michigan's 30 delegates will be apportioned as follows:

  • 2 delegates will be awarded for the candidate who wins the popular vote
  • 2 delegates for each of the 14 congressional districts* in Michigan, 28 delegates  in total (*Note: Michigan currently has 15 congressional districts but the state is losing a district this year because of the state's population decline in the 2010 Census).

So say, for example, that Mitt Romney, who has focused a lot on the relatively populous southeast part of the state, wins the popular vote.

He'll pick up 2 delegates for the popular vote and delegates for the districts he won.

But Rick Santorum, who has been courting conservatives outside of southeast Michigan, could pick up more delegates by winning in more districts.

It could mirror the 2000 election results where one candidate wins the popular vote, but the other picks up more delegates.

This is just one possibility - one exciting possibility, especially for political junkies.

According to Pluta, a lot of permutations are conceivable  including a full on tie with delegates evenly split. (For you hard-core political junkies, Nate Silver at the New York Times has a detailed breakdown of likely outcomes broken down by district)

With all this possible ambiguity, how is a winner decided? Are delegates or total votes more important?

Depending on who takes what, the candidates will no doubt try to spin the results in their favor, but Pluta says that at this point, just a week before Super Tuesday when roughly a third of all delegates are set to be awarded in a ten-state contest, perceived momentum from the popular vote could likely trump the relatively small number of delegates available in Michigan.

That is, of course, unless things drag on all the way to a brokered convention in which case every delegate could be crucial.

Either way, after today Michigan can sit back and watch the horse race continue.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Election 2012
6:28 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Stage is set in Michigan, waiting for results as last votes are cast

The stage for the Mitt Romney campaign party in Novi.
Laura Weber Michigan Radio

The campaigning is wrapping up. The last votes are being cast. Soon the candidates will sit back and watch the results.

And they won't be the only one's watching what happens in Michigan.

The nation's eyes are on the state. The results for the Arizona primary are coming in tonight too, but Michigan's race is much more competitive (Romney is expected to win in Arizona).

The Michigan results will be one more tea leaf - one more piece of evidence of who Republicans want facing President Obama in November's general election.  

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta will be covering things in Grand Rapids, where Rick Santorum and his campaign are holding a party at the Amway Grand Hotel.

And MPRN's Laura Weber will be with the Mitt Romney camp at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We'll bring you results and updates as we have them.

Politics
5:15 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Detroit state review team opens its doors--then closes them again

State Treasurer Andy Dillon
AP File Photo

The state review team looking into Detroit’s finances met in public for the first time Tuesday.

But the meeting was short—less than 20 minutes--and revealed almost nothing about the process behind the review.

The team, led by State Treasurer Andy Dillon, briefly reviewed Detroit’s bleak financial picture--without major changes, the city will run out of cash before the end of the fiscal year. There was also a brief public comment period.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:21 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Sen. Bert Johnson talks alternative to emergency manager law

Democratic Senator Bert Johnson represents Michigan’s 2nd District.
Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.

At the beginning of the year Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager, Jack Martin, for Highland Park public schools. Shortly after that Martin was “de-activated” from the position. And now it’s unclear when he might be reinstated.

Democratic Senator Bert Johnson represents Michigan’s 2nd District, which includes Highland Park.

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Election 2012
4:18 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Obama Gives Eventual GOP Nominee Taste Of Michigan Campaign Ahead

President Obama appears to check smartphone as he heads for the Oval Office after speaking to the UAW, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 9:03 pm

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Politics
3:28 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Michigan lawmakers proposing changes to medical marijuana law

Proposed changes to the medical marijuana law in Michigan could add regulations to how users can grow and store the plant.
user elioja Flickr

Michigan’s medical marijuana law is the focus of ongoing discussions at the state Capitol this week.

Lawmakers are considering proposals that would add regulations to how users can grow and store medical marijuana, and could change how police officers gather information about medical marijuana ID holders.

State Representative John Walsh (R- Livonia) chairs the House committee discussing the medical marijuana proposals.

He said he knows not everyone will be happy with the measures, but he says it’s not his intention to dramatically alter the medical marijuana law as it was approved by voters.

“We’ve worked hard to be as open as possible, and to prove to the skeptics that we’re open minded,” said Walsh.

Supporters of medical marijuana say lawmakers are “nipping away at the edges” of the medical marijuana law by considering the changes. And they say they are particularly concerned with a proposal in the state Senate that would eliminate glaucoma as a medical condition that is treatable with marijuana.

Walsh says medical marijuana users don’t need to be concerned about the proposed changes.

"We’re not interested...in doing away with the law, or undoing what voters asked for when they passed it, and I think we made that very very clear, to the point that when I left the room a number of medical marijuana came up and said, ‘Wow, we thought you were out to crush the whole movement, and now we understand you’re open to different things,’” said Walsh.

Crime
1:00 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Former city of Detroit treasurer Jeffrey Beasley indicted for extortion

Jeffrey Beasley was the treasurer for the city of Detroit from 2006 to until he resigned in September 2008, according to the Detroit News.

Today's indictment charges Beasley with conspiring with others to "personally enrich himself and his co-conspirators by accepting bribes in the form of cash, travel, meals, golf clubs, drinks, gambling money, hotel stays, entertainment, Las Vegas concert tickets, massages, limousine service, private plane flights, and other things of value."

Prosecutors charge that bribes given to Beasley and his co-conspirators came from individuals who had business before the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit.

More from the Detroit News:

Beasley, a fraternity brother of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's at Florida A&M University, accepted the bribes and kickbacks in return for approving more than $200 million in pension fund investments, prosecutors said Tuesday...

If convicted, Beasley faces up to 20 years in prison. Charges include extortion, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud.

"Employees of the City of Detroit are entitled to honest services from the trustees of their pension funds," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a prepared statement. "We will prosecute public officials who abuse their positions of trust to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the people they were intended to serve."

Jeffrey Beasley, 43, now lives in Chicago.

The Detroit News reports that during a deposition last September, Beasley had invoked his Fifth Amendment right 477 times, according to a transcript reviewed by the newspaper.

Election 2012
12:43 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Seven minutes of pure politics (Dirty-tricks, polls, and delegates, oh my!)

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wants your vote. So does former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. And, Congressman Ron Paul. And... OK, you get the picture.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

It's here: The Michigan presidential primary.

You've got questions? We've got answers.

Join Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and me for seven minutes of pure-politics (you just gotta click the "listen" link above... really, it's that easy).

Want to know more about the Santorum campaign's so-called "dirty tricks"? We got that.

Want to know how Romney could win the state's popular vote... but Santorum could actually win more delegates? We got that, too.

Oh, and how about the latest poll numbers? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

So, take a listen... in seven minutes you'll get up to date on what you need to know about today's primary.

Election 2012
11:29 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Romney says Santorum trying to 'kidnap' Michigan primary

Rick Santorum celebrates his wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Feb 7. Those wins gave him momentum in Michigan. Rival Mitt Romney says Santorum is going too far to try to get votes in Michigan.
Facebook Page

In a close race, every vote counts.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is accusing his rival Rick Santorum of trying to squeeze votes out of Democrats in Michigan.

Michigan holds an open primary, so Michgian voters can vote across party lines.

One source from Grand Rapids has experienced this. Mary from Grand Rapids wrote into our Public Insight Network this morning:

Yesterday, I received 3 calls from the Santorum campaign to vote today. I am a registered Democrat. This morning I received one more from the Red, White and Blue Fund (Santorum).

More on Romney's response to this tactic from the Associated Press:

Mitt Romney says he's struggling with the Republican Party's right wing in Michigan because he's unwilling to make "incendiary" comments. He also accused rival Rick Santorum
of trying to "kidnap" the presidential nominating process with automated calls urging Democrats to vote in Tuesday's primary in Michigan.

Speaking to reporters hours after the polls opened, Romney suggested his rivals are making headway with the GOP base because they are willing to say "outrageous things" that help them in the polls.

Romney says he's not willing to light his "hair on fire" to try to earn support.

Romney also said phone calls by Santorum's campaign urging Democrats to vote against Romney in Michigan on Tuesday amount to an attempt to "kidnap the primary process."

Arizona also holds its GOP presidential primary Tuesday.

Election 2012
10:49 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Graph shows when Michigan's primary race changed

The graph from Real Clear Politics shows Rick Santorum's poll numbers leaping up on February 13.
Real Clear Politics

Everyone likes a winner. After Rick Santorum's three-state sweep in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Feb 7, it seems Michigan voters sat up and took notice.

The momentum he gained began to show in Michigan poll numbers on Monday, February 13.

According to Real Clear Politics, on that day, Santorum's poll numbers jumped eight percentage points, going from 14 percent on February 12 to 23.7 percent on February 13.

His numbers continued to rise until they peaked on February 15 at 37.8 percent, while Romney's were at 28.5 percent.

From that day forward the political horse race was on.

Both Santorum and Romney began to campaign heavily in Michigan, and their Super PACs were right alongside.

A week later, Romney closed the gap.  We'll see tonight whether it was enough for the presumed front runner.

From the graph above, it looks like support for Newt Gingrich fell around the same time support for Rick Santorum grew. That drop in the polls is why we're not seeing much of Mr. Gingrich in Michigan.

Commentary
10:36 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Politics By Other Means

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton probably won’t vote in the primary today, though he spends his life doing work that’s greatly affected by the political world. Nor does he seem impressed that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are fellow Roman Catholics.

Actually, he seems pretty appalled by them.

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News Roundup
8:54 am
Tue February 28, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Primary Day Has Arrived

After weeks of counting down the days, Michigan's presidential primary has arrived. Polls are open until 8 p.m. and Michigan voters will find eleven Republicans on the GOP presidential ballot and President Obama, uncontested, on the Democratic ballot. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul all held rallies yesterday across the state but, even with all the media attention, the Secretary of State’s office is predicting only between 15-20 percent of the state’s registered voters will turn out to the polls today.

Gas Prices Continue to Rise

Motorists are spending $4 for a gallon of regular gas in Troy and Okemos and other parts of Michigan may soon join them, Steve Carmody reports. From Carmody:

Michigan’s gasoline prices shot up 12 cents on Monday. Dustin Coupal is a co-founder of GasBuddy.com. He says increasing world demand for oil is pushing Michigan’s gasoline prices closer to record high territory. According to GasBuddy.com, Michigan’s average regular gas price is around $3.80 a gallon. The state set a record last May, when the average price hit $4.26 a gallon.

Detroit Violence

Mayor Dave Bing is pleading with Detroiters to “stop the madness” after another violent weekend in the city. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Bing’s plea comes after a shooting on the city’s east side left a six-year-old boy critically injured. Detroit Police have arrested a pair of 15-year-olds in the case. Chief Ralph Godbee says the two were on a carjacking spree when the shooting happened. Even crime-hardened Detroiters have been taken aback by the indiscriminate nature of recent violence. Two Detroit children have died violently in the past month, both in shootings that appeared to stem from petty disputes. The city is also reeling from news that a 14-year-old murdered his mother as she slept.

Election 2012
7:19 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Santorum, Romney spar over economy ahead of Michigan primary

Rick Santorum (center) Monday at St. Mary's Cultural & Banquet Center in Livonia, Mich.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 5:12 pm

A day before Michigan's Republican presidential primary, Rick Santorum tried to outflank Mitt Romney on a fairly sensitive issue in Detroit: government bailouts.

Santorum blasted Romney for supporting the government's Wall Street bailout while loudly opposing its bailout of the auto industry.

Santorum, for his part, opposed both instances of government intervention in the private sector.

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Election 2012
7:16 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Michigan primary a test of Romney's family legacy

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a vintage campaign poster of Romney's father, George Romney, in Albion, Mich.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:59 am

Michigan and Arizona hold presidential primaries Tuesday, and in Michigan, where Mitt Romney was born, the race has been as hard-fought as anywhere in the country.

For Romney, the campaign there has been personal. He often evokes the Michigan of his youth, when his father, George, ran American Motors and went on to become a very popular three-term governor.

But does that family legacy mean anything today?

If you were to go to a Romney event in Detroit or Kalamazoo or Traverse City, you'd be almost guaranteed to hear some Romney family history.

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Election 2012
6:28 am
Tue February 28, 2012

After weeks of campaigning, Election Day is here

Cle0patra Flickr

Election Day is here

After weeks of counting down the days, Michigan's presidential primary has arrived. Polls open this morning at 7 a.m. and Michigan voters will find eleven Republicans on the GOP presidential ballot and President Obama, uncontested, on the Democratic ballot. Votes for President Obama won't really count in today's primary, as the state Democratic Party will hold a caucus on May 5th.

Campaign finale

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were the three major GOP candidates who spent the most time campaigning across the state over the past few days (if you're wondering where Newt Gingrich has been, you can read more about some political theories for his absence here). Here are just a few of the stories that came out of the candidates' campaign stops yesterday:

And, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry; Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network Rick Pluta and I have been keeping an eye on the race:

Voter turnout

Election officials are, "expecting between 15 percent and 20 percent of the state's registered voters to cast ballots in the presidential primary election. About 21 percent of the state's registered voters participated in Michigan's 2008 presidential primary, when Republicans had a contested race but Hillary Rodham Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot," the Associated Press reports.

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Politics
8:06 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

New management promises better Detroit bus service, but riders are cynical

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

There were some testy exchanges at a Detroit City Council hearing on bus service Monday, as Council members and citizens wanted to know when they can expect the city’s notoriously bad bus service to improve.

Department statistics show that city buses miss stops or otherwise fail to service their routes about one-third of the time. Transit advocates suggest that number is probably too low.

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Election 2012
8:01 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Ron Paul speaks out against undeclared wars at campaign stop

Ron Paul "'backstage' before the CNN / Tea party debate.
Facebook

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul spoke out against undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Federal Reserve system and the federal war on drugs to a packed auditorium at Michigan State University this afternoon.

"We still have enough freedom to wake this country up and change the direction, but it has to come from the people. It won’t come top down. It has to come from the people because government reflects the values of the people, so if that’s what you want and you speak and you do your job, Washington will change."

The Paul campaign says he has a good chance of picking up some delegates in Michigan’s primary tomorrow.

Paul says Michigan and other states should have the right to enact medical marijuana laws without worrying about interference from the federal government.

The Obama administration has taken a hands-off policy on enforcing drug laws against most medical marijuana users.

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