Dillon says he’s in, immediately leads Dems race (for now)

At long last, one of the expected candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination has said he’s in: Andy Dillon.

The Michigan house speaker formally announced his candidacy on Sunday. He’s the fourth candidate to declare, along with Lansing mayor Virg Bernero, fellow state representative Alma Wheeler Smith (Ann Arbor), and former Genesee County treasurer Dale Kildee.  [The Detroit News].

Dillon said his experience in business will help him create jobs in the state.

An attorney and former executive, Dillon was president at Detroit Steel Co. (formerly McLouth Steel) and was a vice president with GE Capital. He stressed he planned to join his personal vision of creating jobs with his business experience and the state’s engineering and automotive manufacturing expertise.

He lamented an exodus of nearly a quarter-million young people from Michigan over the past decade and partisan politics in Lansing that impede identifying solutions to Michigan’s many problems. He stressed Michigan must reinvent itself.

"We have to make Michigan a place where young people want to stay or even move to in order to pursue their dreams," he said. "… We must refocus on growth industries like hybrids and battery technology."

While Dillon enters the race as the favorite, Time says he still has some convincing to do:

The first challenge for Dillon, a lanky 48-year-old former investment banker, will be to win the confidence of the Democratic masses. To succeed, he must soothe the concerns of unions, a historically crucial Democratic constituency he has angered with proposals to restructure state employees’ health insurance plans. He is Catholic and opposes abortion, which may be problematic for liberals in his party. He has reportedly raised at least $1 million in recent weeks. But raising the kind of money necessary for a credible campaign will be tricky in the current financial environment. He lives in a Detroit suburb, but must quickly build a presence beyond the state’s largest media market.  It’s somewhat early to pay serious attention to polls, and the cast of prospective Democratic and Republican candidates is still broad. Nevertheless, so far, the numbers are in Dillon’s favor: 17% of respondents in a recent poll said they would vote for Dillon in the Democratic primary, scheduled for August. However, 45% of those respondents said they were essentially undecided about who they will support.

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Lansing mayor kicks off bid for governor

DETROIT (AP) — Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has kicked off his Democratic bid for governor at an auto supplier plant in Detroit, saying partisanship and insider politics are blocking efforts to rescue Michigan from its dire economic condition.

The 45-year-old Bernero is the son of a former GM worker and made his first stop Monday at the Detroit Chassis LLC plant, which supplies Ford Motor Co. with RV chassis.

Bernero paints himself as an outsider, saying the state has tried Republican and Democratic ways and now needs to find “the Michigan way.”

He has a Grand Rapids stop planned for midafternoon and an evening stop planned in Lansing.

So far, state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith is the only other Democrat officially running.

Five Republicans are running.