Keeping Up With The Candidates, July 9

Less than a month before the primary, all of the candidates are ratcheting up the war machine, which means, of course, you are about to be bombarded with commercials. (It would be a good idea to invest in a digital video recorder if you don’t already have one.) At least they waited this long to ramp up the ads. According to Dawson Bell of the Detroit Free Press, the combined candidate spending on ads doesn’t approach anywhere near what Dick Devos spent by this point in 2006.

Not surprisingly, Mike Cox and Rick Snyder have spent the most on this campaign with varying levels of success. Cox entered the race as the leader and Snyder a relative unknown. Depending on what day of the week it is and who is doing the poll, Cox, Snyder and Pete Hoekstra are all relatively close in the GOP race, with Hoekstra usually leading but barely.

Hoekstra’s campaign has been famously hamstrung by taking public funds, thus limiting his ability to buy ads statewide. (Not that he needs to run them on the west side of the state.) But he has run an ad in selected markets titled “Get Out Of The Way” that is noteworthy for its lack of mudslinging. What it is not noteworthy for is any type of specific idea that he has that sets him apart from any of the other Republican candidates. It’s similar to the “One Tough Nerd” ad Snyder used to introduce himself, except that was in January.

Mike Bouchard, who distantly trails the other three in the polls, announced a plan for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to share info with Immigrations & Customs Enforcement to try to identify illegal immigrants in Michigan jails or facing charges. Not exactly the Arizona immigration law but some parties have argued it’s promoting racial/ethnic profiling, to which Bouchard responded on WJR [Audio link on the bottom of page.]:

What you’re talking about is someone who is an alien in this country and is arrested for something completely unrelated to status — rather they’re illegal or legal. And people don’t even want us to do that?  That tells you how stunning the disconnect between today’s realities are and the people that oppose that.

Now, I would never accuse a politician of trying to capitalize on an issue that is hot elsewhere but not so much here, except that I think I just did.

Kym Worthy called for parents who fail to appear for parent-teacher conferences to be jailed. The Michigan Messenger contacted all of the candidates for comment. As of Wednesday, only Hoekstra and Andy Dillon responded (TMM has no update on the post). Both expressed support for the idea that parents need to take an active role in their children’s education. However, Dillon questioned both the enforcement and effectiveness of such a policy.

The Speaker supports increased parental involvement in schools throughout the state, but does have some concerns about the implementation and enforcement of the authority requested by the Wayne County Prosecutor. In some cases, a parent who cannot attend a P/T conference does not always mean they aren’t engaged. The real question for parental involvement ultimately becomes more than just a single meeting – emphasis must be placed on maintaining parental involvement throughout the year on a more consistent basis.

After the debates of the last couple week, there wasn’t much news from the Democrats this week. The Livingston Daily did a fact check on claims of both Dillon and Virg Bernero and found, of course, both the truth and exaggerations have been told on both sides.

Bernero did get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Michigan National Organization for Women.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press wrote a piece on the difficulty that U.S. Rep Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is having running in the shadow of the scandals engulfing her husband and son. (Do I really need to link them?) In addition to representing sections of Detroit, she also represents several Downriver communities like Wyandotte, where she marched in an Independence Day parade.

The piece discusses the difficulty she’s having with her family’s public problems and discusses the five people running to unseat her in the primary.  The fact that she has five opponents could be her saving grace:

But this year could be different, said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster.

“She’s got a very, very narrow margin for success,” he said. “She has a base of about 38% of support in the district. As long as one of the candidates can show themselves as a credible alternative to her, she could have a problem.”

He thinks voters in Detroit may be suffering from election fatigue after four mayoral elections in the last year, and that could help a non-Detroiter.

“A hard 70% outside of the city will break overwhelmingly to whoever is the credible alternative to Kilpatrick,” Foster said. “Right now, Hansen is the person to do that, but if Broad can get up on TV and radio, then it could break toward him.”

“Hansen” is state Senator Hansen Clarke and “Broad” is Grosse Pointe businessman John Broad, whom, the piece says, might have the largest war chest. (Wyandotte and Grosse Pointe? How large is this district?)

The others are pastor Glenn Plummer (not that Glenn Plummer), who has GOP ties (gave money to Bush’s campaign in 2003), former GOP Detroit mayorial and city council candidate Stephen Hume, and Vincent Brown of Garden City, who the piece says “worked in the auto industry for eight years and for the group Clean Water Action for two years.” (Grosse Pointe, Wyandotte and Garden City?!)

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Another Democratic Candidate Bites The Dust

And yet another Democratic gubernatorial candidate has opted against running this year. This time, it’s a guy who just entered the fray:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit was the first Democrat to jump in after Lt. Gov. John Cherry withdrew from the Democratic race for governor. But now Clarke is dropping out as well.

Clarke said Friday in a status update on his Facebook page that he won’t be a candidate for governor this year.

A message was left with his campaign office seeking comment.

The complete list of declared gubernatorial candidates in both parties, per the AP:

REPUBLICANS IN THE RACE:

—Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard of Birmingham

—Attorney General Mike Cox of Livonia

—State Sen. Tom George of Kalamazoo County’s Texas Township

—U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland

—Venture capitalist Rick Snyder of Ann Arbor

___

DEMOCRATS IN THE RACE:

State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit

—State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith of Washtenaw County’s Salem Township

The lack of candidates is probably a good thing for the higher profile prospective candidates as they explore whether they can actually raise the money needed to run their options. This AP article discusses these undeclared Democratic candidates.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The surprising withdrawal of Lt. Gov. John Cherry from the Michigan governor’s race presented a golden opportunity to other Democrats who thought they’d have to wait years to run.

But they don’t have much time to decide if they’re in or out.

Some of the five Republicans in the race are poised to begin running ads in February, giving them the chance to make the first favorable impression on voters. And whichever of the uncommitted Democrats jumps into race first could grab the biggest share of donations and endorsements, leaving latecomers with crumbs.

"You can buy a little bit more time as long as everybody else is still up in the air on this," political strategist Tom Shields of Marketing Resources Group said Thursday. "But when those campaign committees start forming, and people start raising money and getting commitments, that’s when you need to either fish or cut bait."

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak hears the clock ticking. Although he has a safe congressional seat and powerful committee assignments, the Democrat from Menominee is considering running for governor.

"This isn’t something that presents itself very often," Stupak told The Associated Press. "You have to take a look at it."

He’s heading to Detroit on Friday to meet with party activists and get a better feel for whether he wants to run. At the same time, he is deeply involved in negotiations over the federal health care overhaul bill and language restricting how abortions are covered by insurance.

A run for governor "is appealing, but from a practical point of view, can you do it with this compressed time line we have? Health care compresses it even more," Stupak said. He noted that GOP gubernatorial candidate and fellow congressman Pete Hoekstra faces some of the same constraints, "but he’s at least been out there another year."

Stupak knows his opposition to abortion could prove a hurdle to getting the nomination. The former state trooper also is a gun-rights advocate. But he has spoken with former U.S. Rep. David Bonior, an abortion opponent who ran in the 2002 Democratic governor’s race, and said he’s encouraged so far.

Among the others eyeing the race, University of Michigan Regent Denise Ilitch spent Wednesday evening introducing herself at a Democratic mixer in Grand Rapids after discussing a possible run with White House and Democratic Governors Association officials in Washington the night before.

Although she won a statewide race in 2008 as regent, the lawyer from Bingham Farms isn’t well-known in Democratic circles, despite her family owning sports teams, casinos and the Little Caesar’s pizza chain. She’s working to change that, but could be hampered by a pattern of donating to Republicans as well as Democrats.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports Ilitch gave $2,000 to former President George W. Bush in 2003, the same year she gave $1,000 to Republican U.S. Rep. Candice Miller. Former President George H.W. Bush got $1,000 in 1992 from Ilitch, who gave the Michigan Republican State Committee $1,000 in 2000.

Ilitch also donated $3,300 to 2008 Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and at least $7,500 over the years to Democrats such as Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Carl Levin and the late Ted Kennedy. The Michigan Democratic State Central Committee received $3,000 between 2005 and 2009.

She did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday to her law office.

Other Democrats considering a run are also on record as donating to Republicans. House Speaker Andy Dillon, who has formed an exploratory committee, gave $1,000 to the Michigan Republican State Committee in 1994, records show.

"We’re going to chalk it up to a youthful indiscretion," Dillon spokesman Dan Mahoney said Thursday.

State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit was the first Democrat to jump in after Cherry dropped out, and Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith has been in the race since last summer. Others looking at getting in are Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee and Michigan State University Trustee George Perles.

One other potential candidate is Robert Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball’s Internet operations and state treasurer in the 1980s under then-Gov. James Blanchard. Okemos public relations consultant Bob Kolt said Blanchard and others are talking to Bowman about getting into the race.

Bowman, who has a summer home in Harbor Springs and works in New York City, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.