Republican conventions

Okay, now, here’s a test: How many members of the state board of education can you name?  Don’t feel bad.

I can’t name them all either.

What’s more, many people don’t even realize we elect these folks, and the trustees who run our three major universities. This might not be a bad idea if the campaigns involved honest debates over education policy.

But that almost never happens.

Instead, we rely on the political parties to select nominees who will devote themselves to mastering the issues and helping run our educational institutions with integrity.

The statewide Republican ticket lines up after Saturday’s GOP convention in Novi.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

It was a busy political weekend as Michigan Democrats and Republicans held their respective conventions. 

Two reporters joined Stateside to talk about what happened at the conventions. Chris Gautz is a Lansing reporter for Crain's Detroit Business. Chad Livengood is a Lansing reporter for The Detroit News.

Here are a few highlights of the interview:

  • Tea Party organizer Wes Nakagiri did not succeed in his bid to boot Lt. Gov. Brian Calley off the ticket.
  • Nomination of Michigan Supreme Court justice candidate William Murphy at the Democratic convention
  • Nomination of Maria Carl of Macomb County on the State Board of Education seat at the GOP convention
  • Some of the bumper stickers available at the Michigan GOP convention

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Gautz and Chad Livengood above.

Both political parties held their state conventions last weekend. They filled out their slates of nominees, from state Supreme Court down to school board and university trustee slots.

With that the fall campaigns can fully begin in earnest.

Years ago, in a kinder and gentler era, they used to say that the public really didn’t tune in to campaigns until after the World Series.

Well, that was when the series ended the first week in October. These days it sometimes goes into November, and in Michigan the campaign for governor has been going on for more than a year.

My guess, however, is that most normal people start tuning into campaigns about Labor Day.

Here’s a tip: The media loves conflict and drama, and we tend to play up supposed splits within political parties. Sometimes these are very real, but most of the time those involved forget about their differences before the election because they hate the other party more.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Republicans and Democrats in Michigan will gather this weekend at party conventions to nominate candidates for statewide offices.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette are expected to be nominated for second terms at the state Republican convention in Novi.      

But it looks like there will be a fight over lieutenant governor. Gov. Rick Snyder wants the convention to renominate Brian Calley. But Tea Party activist Wes Nakagiri wants to deny Snyder his choice.

State GOP chairman Bobby Schostak says Calley appears to have the edge going into Saturday’s convention.

“I think that overall Brian Calley has been working very hard across the state to get the message across that he deserves to continue to be the lieutenant governor, and it’s going to be very hard to beat him,” says Schostak.

Democrats are meeting in Lansing this weekend. Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown is Mark Schauer’s choice for a running mate. Democrats are also expected to nominate Mark Totten for attorney general, and Godfrey Dillard for secretary of state.

The parties will also nominate candidates for the state Supreme Court and education boards. 

We know the most important job in state government is that of governor, but the next two top jobs are far more important than we tend to realize.

Michigan’s attorney general is the top lawyer for the entire state, both for state government and the interests of all the citizens.

Meanwhile, whoever is secretary of state is responsible for pretty much everything that has to do with voting and elections – not to mention driver's licenses, automobile and other registrations, and regulating notaries in the state.

We elect these officials by a statewide vote in November. They serve four-year terms, and can be re-elected only once.

But here’s the odd thing about these jobs. We the voters have the final say in November, but have virtually no say in who the major political parties choose as their candidates.

User: Andrew Ferguson / Flickr

It's a big weekend for Michigan's Democrats and Republicans: Both parties hold their state conventions – the Democrats in Lansing, the Republicans in Novi.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, the co-hosts of Michigan Radio’s It's Just Politics, gave us a preview of the conventions.

For this weekend, Clark says she’ll be watching for a Tea Party effort to pry Brian Calley out as lieutenant governor.

"Tea Partiers and very conservative Republicans, looking at the Snyder Administration and saying, 'you know what? You may say you're conservative, but you are not conservative enough,'" says Clark.

As for the Democratic convention, there’s not quite as much drama expected in Lansing. However, Clark notes that it’ll be interesting to look at the Democratic nominees' races for attorney general and secretary of state.

* Listen to the interview with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta above.

* Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning at 9 when Rick Pluta will host a special call-in show with Gary Peters, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. 

 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

I just spent about $5,000 at the two national political conventions.


No, I wasn’t out wining and dining with the heavy hitters, and despite how much my critics would love to finally be able to prove my biases, I wasn’t handing out political contributions to candidates either.


I spent the money to send Michigan Radio reporters to cover the Michigan delegation at each convention.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

America’s two largest political showcase events could be hampered in their efforts to get out their messages because of Hurricane Isaac.

The Republicans have left Tampa and the Democrats are rolling into Charlotte.

This weekend should be filled with nothing but talk about what Mitt Romney said about Barack Obama and what the Democratic President plans to say about his Republican challenger.

Instead, Hurricane Isaac threatens to dilute both parties finely crafted convention messaging.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Romney campaign says it plans to actively campaign In Michigan “until the end”.  But there is one major campaign component that Romney officials haven’t committed to yet.  Four years ago, the John McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan a month before the presidential election. State Republican leaders blamed that decision for hurting GOP turnout in Michigan in 2008.  Katie Gage says that won’t happen this year.  She’s a deputy director for the Romney campaign. Gage says the Romney campaign will be in Michigan “until the end”, with phone banks, local campaign offices and mailings.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Republicans have wrapped up their convention in Tampa. Now hundreds of business people and lobbyists are boarding planes to join the Democrats in Charlotte for their national convention next week.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michiganders who watched Mitt Romney accept the Republican presidential nomination last night in Tampa say they were impressed by the way he did it.

Mitt Romney dedicated much of his acceptance speech last night to doing something he doesn’t do often: talking about his personal life.

Romney talked about his parents, his marriage, his children and his personal motivations, both in business and in faith.

Ronna Romney-McDaniel is Mitt’s niece.  She says she's glad voters are getting a chance to learn more about him as a person.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan native son Mitt Romney accepts the GOP presidential nomination this evening at the Republican National Convention.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s controversial governor gave Michigan’s delegates their marching orders today for the fall presidential campaign.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker thanked Michigan Republicans for helping him defeat a recall campaign earlier this year.

Walker then urged the delegates to work just as hard to win their state for Mitt Romney in November…

There’s an elderly lady in Royal Oak who has sharpened and repaired my razors and table knives for years.

She has spent her life in business for herself, and does excellent work. She also isn’t shy about expressing her political opinions. She now works out of her home, and since the campaign started, her home has been decorated with Ron Paul signs.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s delegates say they left the Republican National Convention last night with extra enthusiasm.

They say vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan set the right ‘tone’ for the fall campaign in his acceptance speech.

Michigan’s delegates liked hearing Paul Ryan attacking the ‘Affordable Care Act’ and President Obama’s economic and spending policies.

Tom Stroup is a delegate from Northfield Township.   He says the “tone” of Paul Ryan’s speech should connect with independent voters.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s U.S. Senate race is getting attention from top Congressional GOP leaders at the Republican National Convention.

“It’s not just carrying it for Mitt Romney…we need a new senator from Michigan as well,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Michigan delegates this morning, “Because I would like to be setting the agenda in the Senate instead of (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid.”

McConnell told the delegates that Republican control of the U.S. Senate depends on Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan's female delegates to the Republican National Convention not surprisingly give high marks to Ann Romney for her speech last night.

Now the focus shifts to her husband Mitt, to see if he can build support among women voters.

Steve Carmody/ Michigan Radio

More than 100 thousand people voted for Ron Paul in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary in February.    But after what happened yesterday at the Republican National Convention, it appears some of them may not be voting Republican in November.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's All Things Considered host, Jennifer White talks with reporter Steve Carmody. He's been covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

More than 100 Michigan delegates are at the GOP convention. Among the delegation is Governor Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette. Also in the mix are Republican Party members from around the state.

"The primary focus for a lot of the delegates is obviously, get Mitt Romney elected...but when you get away from the simple politics, the main thrust of what the delegates are most concerned about is jobs. They say, the economy and bringing more jobs to Michigan is their primary concern," Carmody said.

The big question is whether Michigan could play a bigger role in the election than previously thought. Carmody said:

"The Republicans here insist that it is a swing state, and that it will play a pivotal role. Of course, others cite different polls that show that there is a much wider gap in Michigan than there are in other swing states."

For example, "Governor Chris Christie from New Jersey was talking to the Michigan delegation, and he said that Michigan is, as he described it, 'a state of consequence,' which means it is a swing state.  That if Michigan does turn out and vote for Mitt Romney that would put Mitt Romney over the top as president. And he said it’s up to people in that room, the Michigan delegation, to make sure that they do get out the Republican vote.  He said this morning that, you don’t want to wake up the next day and find out that Mitt Romney fell one percentage point short in Michigan and that cost him the election," said Carmody.

I don’t claim to really know Mitt Romney, who is going to be nominated for president tonight at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. I did, however, interview him at length five years ago, the first time he ran for president.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie at a Romney fundraiser in Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The man in the spotlight at the Republican National Convention tonight took his star power to the Michigan delegation this morning.

It’s a staple of every morning at national political conventions: the big name breakfast speaker.    And there are few bigger than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.   The Garden State governor has a prime time slot tonight, delivering the convention’s keynote address. 

Christie told Michigan’s delegates about a conversation he had with Mitt Romney about the Republican nominee’s chance of winning New Jersey in November.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Michigan congressman in a tight re-election campaign will stand in the spotlight today at the Republican National Convention.

Republican Dan Benishek defeated Democrat Gary McDowell two years ago to win the congressional seat formerly held by Bart Stupak.   The two will face off again in a rematch in November.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan delegates to the Republican National Convention can find a lot to eat in Tampa.

But at least one business, not too far from the convention center, hopes those delegates will also want a small taste of home.

Tampa is hardly short of great uniquely Floridian food choices, from Cuban sandwiches in Ybor City to beachside shacks where you can eat a variety of fish that were swimming in the Gulf of Mexico a few hours before.

But sometimes you just want a coney.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Political shenanigans are nothing new at national political conventions.

But Michigan Democrats are the ones having fun today at Mitt Romney’s expense.

It started, as many things at a national political conventions do, with a press release.

But this press release had the eye catching title “Michigan GOP to Hold “No One’s Ever Asked to See My Birth Certificate” party.   The press release claimed the party was to show support for Mitt Romney, who raised the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate last Friday in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new poll of likely Michigan voters shows Republican Mitt Romney has pulled even with President Barack Obama.   That news was greeted with cheers today at the Republican National Convention.

Michigan is often referred to as a ‘second tier’ swing state.  One that likely Mitt Romney will have trouble winning over to the Republican column.   But the new Mitchell Research poll of twelve hundred voters may change that perception.    The poll found 47 percent of likely Michigan voters back the president.   47 percent support his Republican challenger.  

If you watch much of the Republican National Convention this week, you’ll be in a tiny minority, even though the delegates are nominating a Michigan native with a famous name for President.

In fact, you may have to work hard at finding a network that carries very much of the convention. If you are under forty you may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when all the networks offered gavel-to-gavel coverage of every minute of both major parties’ conventions. They thought it was their civic duty.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Retirees are expected to play a pivotal role in this fall’s election.

Republican Party leaders in Michigan and Florida are particularly interested in one unique set of voters - the so-called Snowbirds.

Snowbird is the term used for northern retirees who spend the winters in Florida.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The chairman of Michigan’s Republican Party says he does not believe Tropical Storm Isaac will hamper the work that needs to get done at this week's national convention in Florida.

National party leaders canceled most events for the first day of the Republican National convention because of the threat of  Isaac.   They hope to get back on schedule tomorrow.

National Republican leaders are not ruling out the need to add an extra day to the schedule.

But Bob Schostak says he doubts that will be necessary.   Schostak is the chair of Michigan’s Republican Party.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Isaac is coming, but for Michigan’s delegation to the Republican National Convention the parties go on.

They used to call them ‘Hurricane parties’.  People getting together to have a good time as one of nature’s most destructive forces bore down on them.   They can now change the name to 'Republican Hurricane Parties.'

As  Isaac churned its way north, Michigan’s delegation to the RNC went ahead and held their planned governor’s reception at the Florida Aquarium.   

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tropical storm Isaac is bearing down on Florida.   But for now Michigan’s delegation to the Republican National Convention plans to keep to it’s pre-convention schedule.

Members of Michigan’s delegation had planned for a once in a lifetime experience in Tampa this week, but they didn’t expect it to be a hurricane. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s governor says he’s bringing his message of “relentless positive action” message to this week’s Republican National Convention.

“Positive” is not usually a word associated the rhetoric at national political conventions.

But Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who’s made “relentless positive action” the mantra of his administration, hopes that’s not the case at the Republican National Convention which opens Monday in Tampa.

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