Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Stateside for Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov 3, 2014

  Today on Stateside: 

  • Kathy Gray, Lansing bureau reporter for the Detroit Free Press, walks us through what the State House and Senate could look like after the midterm elections.

  • We discuss Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s announcement to shed Ferrari and what it could mean for the company.

  • West Michigan native and creator of the now infamous video of a woman receiving catcalls while walking around New York City talks to us about what led him to creating this video.

  • Dr. Maria Silvera, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, spoke to us about what Brittany Maynard's fight for the right-to-die issue could mean for the movement in Michigan.

  • Stateside’s It’s Just Politics team tells us about 5 things to watch in the upcoming election.

  • Roads are an increasingly important issue for many Michigan voters, but little is being accomplished to improve their crumbling conditions. What can be done if legislation fails to pass again?

*Listen to the full show above

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will decide races for governor, a U.S. Senate seat, members of Congress and other elected offices on Tuesday. 

But many won’t bother to vote on non-partisan races and questions on the ballot.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says many voters just forget.

“Some people when they vote for one party or another, which is about 60% of the population, they don’t realize that there is more to the ballot,” says Johnson.

Over the past few months, Michigan Radio hosted live call-in shows with the candidates for Michigan governor and U.S. Senate.

The broadcasts were part of the Michigan Public Radio Network’s “Michigan Calling” series of 2014 election specials.

Rick Pluta, the Michigan Public Radio Network’s state Capitol bureau chief, hosted each hour-long program.

Listeners had the choice of calling in or submitting questions via Facebook at “Michigan Calling,” or Twitter using the hashtag: #MICalling.

You can watch or listen to the programs below.

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

We asked you to share one word that best describes your feeling about Election Day.

Based on the responses, it looks like most people are somewhere between hopeful, nervous, and "meh."

We had a strict one word limit, but one new voter managed to get around the rule to express their excitement.

"omgitsmyfirsttimevotingijustturned18andgotmyvoterregistrationzomg!!!"

You can share your word here, excited or not.

Here are the words bubbling to the top:

Polling place.
Stephen Velasco / Flickr

Tomorrow is Election Day. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Michigan.

Candidates are out making their final push. Mostly, they just want you to get out of your house and vote.

Not a lot of people go out and vote during midterm elections. In our last midterm election, less than half of Michigan's registered voters cast a ballot.

When you head to the polls tomorrow, your ballot is going to be long. Here are two quick links to get your started from the Michigan Secretary of State:

The long campaign for Michigan governor comes to an end today.

The candidates are making one final push before voters have their say on Election Day on Tuesday.

The candidates for governor are both trying to build momentum heading into tomorrow’s election.

Democrat Mark Schauer spent the weekend riding in a recreational vehicle, traveling from city to city, from the Upper Peninsula to Jackson. He says it’s a “blitz to the finish”.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint voters will decide on Tuesday if they want to make changes to the way their city government works.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State auditors are raising questions about thousands of dollars of purchases charged to gas cards.

  The audit released Friday found people driving state vehicles spent $372,000 on things besides gas during a recent two-year period. About 40 percent of that amount was charged to a category called "other."

  The state of Michigan's vehicle policy has many restrictions on the use of gas cards. Food, beverages, maps and towing are among the prohibited items.

screen grab

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.


 As we head into the last weekend before the election, Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer (and plenty of others) are making their final swings through the state, launching their final push to get out the vote.

These final few days are all about reaching voters, the would-be, possible voters and persuading, inspiring them to get to the polls.

Democrats Need Excitement

There are more registered Democrats in Michigan than Republicans. Michigan is a blue state. But Democrats don’t turn out to the polls the way Republicans do, particularly in midterm elections. That’s why in the past six presidential cycles, Michigan has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate but why, because they’re elected in the midterms, we have a Republican governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

It’s toward that end that the D’s have a big attraction coming this weekend. President Obama is scheduled to campaign with Schauer and Democratic Senatorial candidate Gary Peters in Detroit on Saturday.

Nationwide, many Democrats are avoiding the president, but not here in Michigan. Instead, they’re betting the upside of the president’s visit will be bigger than the risk.

They’re hoping that the president can convince the legions that stepped out to support him in 2012 that they need to step out once again in 2014, even if his name is not at the top of the ticket.

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.

Jorge Gonzalez / Flickr

We thought about having a week dedicated to debunking conspiracy theories, but we're not Snopes nor are we The Onion.

But one theory that we just couldn't let go of, that continues to circulate, lent itself to some easy debunking.

The myth? That Americans see a fall in gas prices at election time.

It's easy to assume that there's some big conspiracy theory to make gas prices decline right before we go to the polls.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Candidates have just a few more days to convince people to show up to the polls next week and vote for them. That means campaigns are beginning their final push.

Democratic nominee for governor Mark Schauer is embarking on a statewide campaign tour. He kicked it off by greeting auto workers in Lansing as they got off their shift.  

Schauer says he is confident in his chances, especially after recent reports show strong numbers in his favor with absentee voters who have already cast their ballots.

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

We're just a few days away from the Nov. 4 midterm election. Republicans and Democrats are using these last days to push their messages out to voters.

I spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about what they'll be watching in these final days.

Here's our conversation:

2012 election results as depticted by a cartogram - a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Next week, we'll chart another course for our democracy by heading to the voting booth.

By this time next week, we'll know which party will rule the day in Congress and in our state Legislature. We'll also know who Michigan's next governor will be.

So how are you feeling about this big day?

I'm sure we could all take a lot of time to articulate exactly how we're feeling about next Tuesday, but can we find one word that captures it?

That's the challenge we're putting to you here:

macombpolitics.blogspot

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

On Nov. 4, voters in 11 Michigan cities will consider legalizing small amounts of marijuana. That’s the largest number of municipalities to ever consider the question in a single election in the state. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, marijuana advocates think they can win all of them.

YouTube

President Obama will be in Michigan Saturday to campaign for Democratic candidates Mark Schauer and Gary Peters. 

The Michigan Republican Party is trying to energize its conservative base ahead of next week’s election. On Wednesday, Republicans brought in U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to speak with GOP supporters and volunteers in and around Detroit.

During a rally in Livonia, Paul reiterated his belief that conservative principles would turn the city around.

“You want to help Detroit? You want Detroit to grow and be a great and proud city again like it once was? Leave more money in Detroit. It’s as simple as that. Don’t send it to Washington,” he said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters in Michigan’s second-largest city will decide whether to establish term limits for the mayor and city commission next Tuesday.

The proposed change to the city’s charter would limit commissioners and mayors to eight years in office. Commissioners would be able to serve for eight years if elected mayor.

Opponents of term limits say there’s no need for them because voters can kick people out of office by not re-electing them.

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.


screen grab from HDNet clip

The city of Detroit plans to acquire 77 vacant properties from Detroit Public Schools.

In return, the city will forgive the district's $11,600,000 in debt.  From the city's press release:

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The final round of the annual Wayne County property tax foreclosure auction closed on Tuesday.

This year, about 24,000 properties—the vast majority located in Detroit--were up for auction over two rounds.

The auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as the number of tax-foreclosed properties has soared, and bidding moved online.

More than 7000 of the properties up for auction this year were believed to be occupied.

Today on Stateside:

  • It's been nearly a year since the Republican Party opened an outreach office in Detroit. Is the office paid off yet?
  • We spoke with the South African author of "Broken Monsters," a suspense and horror story set in Detroit.
  • A Republican Congressman who lost the August primary decided to mount a write-in campaign, even though it could drain off enough votes to send the Democratic candidate to Washington.
  • For some Michiganders, aside from Halloween, there's another holiday on the horizon: Dia de los Muertos.
  • Stateside’s Renee Gross brought us a story about the minorities in Michigan’s restaurant industry and the glass ceiling they may be facing.

* Listen to the full show above.

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. 

How is the Republican Party faring in its quest for votes in Detroit?

It was last December when the GOP brought in U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to christen its new voter engagement office in Detroit.

Bridge Magazine writer Nancy Derringer recently visited the office to check in on things. Derringer says selling the Republican Party in Detroit, a city with enormous African-American majorities, is a more daunting task than you might think. And even the party itself says it's a long-term effort.

Detroit-based freelance writer Aaron Foley says the African-American community tends to get turned off easily by even the word "Republican."

"A lot of people still vote Democrat even though where they worship and where a lot of their faith is more of a Republican thing," says Foley.

Derringer says the GOP's message to Detroit voters is to emphasize the similarities they share with them. 

"You have to admit that we have a lot in common. You are for faith and families, we are for faith and families; you want good schools, we want good schools; you want to feel safe in homes, that's what we are all about," says Derringer.

* Listen to our conversation with Aaron Foley and Nancy Derringer above.

Official portrait

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says the United States had no real choice but to get involved in the battle against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“You can’t sit still and do nothing when you have a group like ISIS whose goal is basically total terror,” Levin said during a visit to Grand Rapids this week.

Levin says the Islamic State threatens to terrorize countries neighboring Iraq and Syria and even the U.S., if left unchecked.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

One of the rituals of the political campaign season is the newspaper endorsement. This past weekend, the liberal-leaning editorial page of The Detroit Free Press – also the state’s largest newspaper – caused some head-scratching and tongue-wagging with its endorsement in the governor’s race.

The Free Press editorial page had pretty much stuck with the Democratic ticket in this election cycle. That is until this past Sunday, when it endorsed Republican Governor Rick Snyder for reelection.

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