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?!)

Keeping Up With The Candidates: July 2 Edition

This week started off with a powder keg issue for Michigan politicians: Congress’s failure to extend jobless benefits.

With Michigan’s (somewhat) improved unemployment rate still hovering somewhere over 13 percent, all gubernatorial candidates are stuck between, on one hand, trying to play up fiscal responsibility for a state that is broke,* and on the other hand, showing the proper amount of compassion for the thousands who were first laid off from their livelihoods, and now are uncomfortably close to suffering the ultimate indignity: being laid off from unemployment.

* Yes, I know the Congress is the one not extending benefits, but the candidate’s comments will undoubtedly be twisted to show they are in favor of some kind of welfare state.

Jackie Headapohl of the Grand Rapids Press called all of the candidates to find out their thoughts on the issue, with predictable results:

The offices of Republicans Tom George, Pete Hoekstra and Mike Cox, as well as the office of Democratic candidate and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero did not return calls or e-mails yesterday, but  Bouchard, Snyder and Democratic candidate Andy Dillon offered statements through their spokespeople.

GOP candidate Michael Bouchard is apparently against an extention. At least that’s what it seems, based on the statement released by his spokesperson, Marie Antoinette Ted Prall:

A spokeswoman for Bouchard said, "Mike Bouchard believes that the best way to combat unemployment is to make Michigan the place to do business again. As a Senator, Mike was a leader in crafting legislation that gave people a hand up, not a hand out. That’s the same kind of governor he will be."

Fellow GOP candidate Rick Snyder and Democratic candidate Andy Dillon favor extending the benefits:

According to his communication director, Rick Snyder "doesn’t support increasing the national debt and raising taxes. He does believe that federal unemployment benefits should be extended to help put food on the table by cutting spending to offset the costs."

Democratic candidate and State House Speaker Andy Dillon is a proponent of extending federal unemployment benefits according to a campaign spokesman. "Far too many people are out of work and need the help," he said.

Elsewhere, Dillon and Virg Bernero debated again on Monday, and civility again took a back seat to one liners. Such is life in politics.

Bernero repeatedly referred to Dillon as "speaker of the mess" and said it’s too late for him to lay out ideas he should have implemented in the last four years as the leader of the state House.

"You can’t handle the job you got and you want a promotion?" Bernero asked during the taping of the debate at WTVS public television studios in Wixom.

Dillon shot back that unemployment has soared in Lansing during Bernero’s administration, auto manufacturing employment has dwindled from 28,000 to 16,000 and the city’s credit rating has been lowered.

"In your term as mayor your budget has gone up every year except this one," Dillon said.

He touted his experience as a private investor and legislative leader, saying the combination gives him the background needed to lead the state out of its economic morass.

"My opponent is a 20-year career politician now running for his sixth office," the speaker said.

Bernero charged that Dillon "screwed up" the Michigan Business Tax and the Promise grants for college students. "Now he wants to circle back" and fix those problems, he said. He also said Dillon is on record opposing national health care reform legislation.

Dillon replied he never opposed the federal health care bill. He fired back that Bernero was labeled an ineffective legislator in a survey of his peers and that he was in the Legislature when the state’s structural deficit took root.

According to the Michigan Messenger, both Democrats will be firing up the ad wars after the Fourth of July. In other ad news, remember Mike Cox’s allegedly stolen and internet leaked ads defending him against potential Manoogian Mansion attacks? Cox is running them in Detroit.

Asked whether the commercials are being run because of persistent questions about Cox’s investigation, campaign manager Stu Sandler said: "No. We wanted to introduce Mike’s background as a prosecutor."

Eh, ok.

Also the Detroit Free Press has done a series of profiles on all of the primary candidates: Bernero, Dillon, Cox, Snyder, Pete Hoekstra, Bouchard and Dr. Tom George. (Incidentally, please take no offense, Tom George supporters, at the lack of news in these posts about your candidate. I’ve not found any stories about him in the major papers, or I would have posted it.)

Supreme Court candidates still have a couple weeks to officially enter the race, but this we know: Justice Robert P. Young Jr. is in (you can follow his campaign on Facebook here if you are so inclined), and Justice Elizabeth A. Weaver is as well … as an independent (no Facebook page found). So a new GOP candidate will probably run against Weaver for the MSC (and when I say “probably” I mean “definitely.”)

But will the Democrats put anyone up against her? And will any of the new candidates have a Facebook page for you to follow/spam? See you next week.

Keeping Up With The Candidates

As the August primary election nears, the candidates for Michigan’s statewide offices are ratcheting up the mudslinging and accusations.

But first, in positive news, Mike Cox made news simply by releasing an ad that was, uh, not negative. [The Detroit News]

Attorney General Mike Cox plays up his service in the U.S. Marines in the third major TV ad of his campaign, which was launched today, and it’s the first spot that doesn’t attack one of his GOP opponents.

The ad shows the Republican gubernatorial candidate in his dress blues, and the voiceover says: "At 18 he enlisted in the Marines. He’s never backed down from a fight."

Cox served in the Marines in the United States and Korea from 1980-83. He was honorably discharged at the rank of corporal.

His background as a Wayne County assistant prosecutor is also highlighted with a scene showing Cox ducking under crime scene tape.

I notice this ad wasn’t paid for by “Eagle Strategies.”

That pretty much covers the positive news. The rest is mostly right-on-right crime. This week, ads his campaign had prepared for the inevitable Manoogian mansion party accusations were leaked on the internet. []

The Michigan gubernatorial campaign of Republican Attorney General Mike Cox says four of its unaired TV ads were stolen and posted on YouTube.

Campaign officials said Tuesday they were talking with attorneys to determine how to proceed and to identify who posted the commercials under the tag AnyOneButCox.

The ads feature people including former police officers defending Cox and his role in putting former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick behind bars.

Cox’s campaign was quick to blame his opponents for stealing the ads but without any proof. Kind of like the Manoogian mansion accusations of which he complains.

"None of us in law enforcement or the media found once person who could say they were there, or that a crime happened," Cox said. "What does it matter to running for governor?

"I’m not running (for governor) to talk about rumors from seven years ago."

In other GOP primary news, Pete Hoekstra picked up the endorsement of retiring Rep. Vern Ehlers. [MLive] He also criticized President Obama for not closing the Chicago locks to protect Lake Michigan from the onslaught of Asian carp after a carp was found six miles past the electronic barrier.

Earlier this year, Hoekstra sponsored a bill that would have given the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to close the locks, apply fish poisons and install new barriers.

"Closing the locks is not enough, and the Army Corps has acknowledged that they have no intention to do so," Hoekstra said.

I don’t know what good it would do to give the ACE the authority to close locks when the organization has fought the push to do so. It’s like giving me the authority to watch the Twilight movies. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

It seems Rick Snyder wasn’t really a nerd in high school. (In other words, there wasn’t much news from the Snyder camp this week.) He did pick up a co-endorsement (along with Mike Bouchard) from the Detroit Regional Chamber. The Chamber also endorsed Andy Dillon on the Democrat side. [MLive]

Despite trailing Cox, Snyder and Hoekstra in pretty much all statewide polls, Bouchard is the leader in metro Detroit. [MLive] Then again, these polls are fluctuating so much from day-to-day that I’m trying to avoid references to them. This is interesting because metro Detroit is obviously has a large effect in Michigan elections

The GOP candidates will all be in Grand Rapids tonight for a debate on WOOD-TV. As with the Democratic debate earlier this week, eastsiders should be able to follow the debate online here.

With only two candidates, the Democrats are so much easier to follow, and not at all less exciting.

Dillon and Virg Bernero hurled verbal bombs at each other during a debate on June 21.

Dillon called Bernero a career politician seeking his "sixth office" in 20 years and who was exaggerating his record as mayor. But it contained little of the bite and specificity Bernero aimed at a large swath of a Democratic primary electorate that hasn’t yet made up its mind.

Bernero criticized Dillon for an FY 2010 budget crafted with Senate Republicans that relies on all cuts and no revenues. Casualties have been cities that have lost revenue sharing and college students who lost their $4,000 Michigan Promise scholarship.

Post-budget attempts by Dillon to raise revenue to soften the cuts went nowhere.

"People were looking to the speaker for leadership, looking for him to stand up for those scholarship funds," Bernero said. After Dillon said he’d work to restore the university aid, Bernero said Dillon "now wants to be elected governor to fix so many of the mistakes he made."

Dillon responded that Bernero offered no solutions of his own and that during his tenure in the Legislature, helped create the current structural budget deficit. "The mayor constantly bashes me (for budget cuts) but I don’t hear him calling for a tax increase to fund these programs."

Bernero was profiled at length by the Detroit Free Press. It’s the beginning of a series of profiles. Dillon’s will appear on Friday.

Bernero is also getting a push by the AFL-CIO.

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Casual Friday presents: Attorneys Behaving Badly

Sometimes it’s not so easy to find a theme for a Casual Friday entry. Other times, it’s obvious.

Like this week, when, for some reason, I found more stories of attorneys in need of attorneys.  Here are the top three, with the requisite mug shots:

Bronze Medal: An attorney should do everything she can to help her client. Unless that includes smuggling drugs into jail for him. Especially if she isn’t really his attorney.

image Nina Backon is a Farmington Hills attorney, but, likely, not for long [The Detroit News]:

A 35-year-old Farmington Hills attorney is facing smuggling and drug possession charges after allegedly smuggling drugs into the Oakland County Jail for her boyfriend.

The charges stem from a visit last week with her boyfriend, Eric Edward Wilamowski, 23, also of Farmington Hills, in the jail.

Wilamowski had recently been sentenced to 93 days in jail for possession of drug paraphernalia. On May 5, Backon represented herself as his attorney in order to visit him. At the conclusion of the visit, police say, Wilamowski let it slip to the deputies that Backon was actually his fiancé, and at the end of that visit she was blowing kisses to Wilamowski.

After deputies confirmed she was not his attorney of record, she was escorted out of the building and told she would no longer be allowed attorney visits.

On May 7, she returned with legal papers that she had filed as an attorney on his case, police said. Deputies were suspicious of Backon and, at the end of that visit, searched Wilamowski and found six Xanax pills and 10 pouches of chewing tobacco. Wilamowski admitted Backon had brought the items to him.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the police obtained a search warrant [Observer & Eccentric]:

A Farmington Hills attorney and her fiance, already jailed on drug-related charges, face additional charges after an apparent marijuana-growing operation was uncovered in their apartment.

“I would say it was highly unlikely it was just for themselves,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard of the “well-equipped” growing operation found in the pair’s Farmington Hills apartment.

Nina Marie Backon, 35, and her fiance, Eric Edward Wilamowski, 23, were arraigned on the new charges via video this week from Oakland County Jail where both are lodged.

Backon is active in the medical marijuana movement, posting on compassion club sites. But still, without the proper paperwork, it’s, you know, illegal.

And she finished third…

Silver Medal: There’s creepy guy, there’s sleazy guy, and there’s this guy [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]:


A Cobb County attorney has been arrested for allegedly putting a surveillance camera under a woman’s desk.

Cobb County Sheriff’s Office James Frederick Tenney, of Marietta, faces three charges of unlawful surveillance.

A female employee of Merritt & Tenney L.L.P. noticed the device earlier this week and called Cobb County police. The man, James Frederick Tenney of Marietta, turned himself in Friday afternoon, according to Sgt. Dana  Pierce.

Tenney faces three counts of unlawful surveillance for apparently recording the woman three different times, Pierce said.

HT: ABA Journal

Still, there was one better/worse…

Gold Medal: I don’t know how many strikes you get in Texas before you lose your law license, but it’s more than two.

Meet Carolyn Machalac Barnes, a 52-year old attorney from Leander, Texas, a barrister that personifies the idea of “Don’t Mess With Texas,” as well as “You don’t know crazy” (or, as they say in Texas “You ain’t seen crazy”) [Austin American-Statesman]:

Williamson County sheriff’s officials have charged an attorney with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, saying she fired five shots when a U.S. Census Bureau worker visited her home Saturday , court records show.

And this was no mistaken identity either.

After Gittel identified herself as a census worker, Foster said, Barnes came outside with a handgun and told Gittel to get off the property.

Gittel “was apparently not getting off of her property fast enough, and Ms. Barnes decided to shoot five rounds in her direction,” Foster said. He said Gittel was not injured.

She fired five shots after the lady as she was leaving.

This was not a first offense for Barnes. She has a long and disturbing history of striking out at police/governmental workers. Like earlier this year, for instance [MyFoxAustin]:

According to an affidavit, 52-year-old Carolyn Machalec Barnes passed her belongings through an x-ray machine when she entered the courthouse.

As the items passed through, a security officer noticed a multi-use tool with a knife blade in with her things. Barnes was asked to leave and take the tool out to her car.

Honestly, who hasn’t this happened to? (Well, maybe not with a knife blade, but a cell phone or a key chain, certainly). You’re annoyed, sure, but mainly because you know you have to walk back to your car. Not Barnes:

When the guard told Barnes she would have to go outside to place the call, she turned around and hit him in the chest. At that point, officers restrained her and placed her in handcuffs.

Sheriff Office [sic] says that’s when she started screaming like an animal and threatened the officer.

Unhappy with the news coverage, she fired back like a celebrity – with a litany of incoherent messages through Twitter:

According to Barnes twitter page, she says that she never had a knife in her purse and that it was an eyeglass repair toolkit.  Barnes also noted on her twitter page that she never threatened or cursed at the officers.  She said that she was the one that was attacked by officers as she was reporting them for abuse.

It was an EYEGLASS REPAIR KIT! “That’s not handgun in my bag, it’s just a brass cleaner.” She was charged with striking an officer.

Even before that, in 2002, she turned a traffic stop into a scene from “First Blood” [State of Texas v Barnes]:

Koenig approached appellant’s vehicle again and repeated requests for her cooperation. Several times he asked her to roll down her windows or to get out of the truck, but she ignored these requests. More than once, he also told her, “Don’t make this difficult. This is a speeding ticket.”

Approximately forty minutes after the stop, and after consulting by phone with a superior officer, Koenig advised appellant that she was under arrest for evading arrest and refusing to accept the speeding citation. He requested that she peacefully step out of the vehicle and explained that if she did not, he would have to break the window and forcibly remove her. He then said, “Please do not force us to do that.” … When she did not respond, he repeated pleas for her to put the vehicle into park and to step out. After appellant ignored these latest pleas, Koenig broke a window in appellant’s truck and opened the doors. Koenig restrained appellant while Fisher attempted to restrain appellant’s son. Appellant shouted for the boy to run and shouted, apparently to anyone passing by or looking on, “They will kill him.”

And that’s not all. [Austin American-Statesman]

In 2000 , Barnes, frustrated by difficulties in resolving a traffic ticket, wrote a letter to the Cedar Park Municipal Court clerk saying she would “fight to the death” with anyone who tried to arrest her.

“This is why people bomb governmental offices, kill cops, and kill judges because of all the lies and abuses!” she said in the letter.

[End of Attorneys Behaving Badly]

Watch out, Schwarzenegger: Virg Bernero appeared on Fox News a couple months ago and was pretty fired up:

The Skype camera and the green suit makes him look like The Hulk.



And the delivery somewhat reminds me of…


The End: Remember the lady that wanted everyone to pay for her legal education by soliciting donations through PayPal? She has abandoned her quest because of “mean spirited blog posts.”

And finally, because the City of Detroit hasn’t embarrassed itself enough []:

6/03 Year in which Detroit presented Saddam Hussein with a key to the city: 1980

Source: Office of the Mayor (Detroit)


Early polls show GOP candidates lead Dems


I can’t imagine what the numbers look like vs. Cox, Snyder or Hoekstra.

… and ye shall receive.

The two leading Democratic candidates would lose to any of the three top Republican challengers if the election were held today, according to the poll by EPIC/MRA of Lansing released exclusively to the Free Press, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and three outstate TV stations.

Between the two Democratic candidates, Dillon leads … unless people actually know the differences between the candidates.

House Speaker Andy Dillon leads Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero for the Democratic primary — 22% to 15% — although Bernero shows signs of closing the gap. When voters were given brief descriptions of the candidates, Bernero jumped ahead of Dillon, 29% to 24%.

Interesting. People tend to say they support candidates that they think are going to win, even if they don’t know any differences on issues. Dillon is better known, so when two names are put out there, people say the one they’ve heard of.

Pete Hoekstra leads among GOP candidates …

Among Republicans, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland has a lead of six percentage points over Attorney General Mike Cox.

Support for Cox and businessman Rick Snyder has leveled off since February.

"People are not jumping on the Rick Snyder bandwagon, even though he’s gained 12 points in name recognition" after a series of TV ads, Porn said.

… and presumably against everyone else.

Voters preferred Republicans Cox, Hoekstra or Snyder by significant margins when each was matched against either Dillon or Bernero.

‘None of the above’ leads Dem. governor race

According to a recent poll, Democrats are less than excited about the three horse Democratic governor race featuring Reps. Andy Dillon, Alma Wheeler-Smith and Lansing mayor Virg Bernero. [The Detroit News].

While ‘Undecided’ is far and away the leader of 53 percent, 17 percent of the people polled said ‘None Of The Above,’ while only 13 percent favored Dillon over Wheeler Smith (10 percent) and Bernero (8 percent).

A Rasmussen phone survey released Tuesday showed 53 percent of likely Democratic primary voters are undecided, while House Speaker Andy Dillon of Redford Township gets 12 percent, state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith of Salem Township 10 percent and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero 8 percent.

Seventeen percent said they preferred someone other than the three announced candidates.

I can’t imagine what the numbers look like vs. Cox, Snyder or Hoekstra.

Kildee drops out of governor race

Citing a desire to promote unity among progressives being forced to choose between Virg Bernero and him, Dale Kildee has dropped out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary race.

Associated Press has the story:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee announced Friday that he’s dropping out of Michigan’s Democratic governor’s race, setting the stage for a likely bruising primary fight between House Speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

"I certainly had hoped to be the candidate to unite the diverse interests that comprise the core of (the) Democratic Party," Kildee said in a statement. "It is now clear that the effort to unite progressive organizations and organized labor around a single candidate will not occur."

Bernero, son of a former General Motors Co. worker and a staunch advocate for autoworkers, has been saying he’ll get the endorsement of the United Auto Workers, a key constituency in the party. The union has not announced its pick.

Kildee, 51, will continue his work as president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, a new national land use nonprofit organization that has offices in Flint and Washington.

The Democratic race has been in upheaval since early January, when Lt. Gov. John Cherry unexpectedly dropped out, leaving state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith as the only candidate. Bernero, Kildee and Dillon quickly geared up for a run.

With Smith far behind in campaign contributions, Kildee’s withdrawal leaves the contest to Dillon and Bernero. The victor will face the winner of a five-way race for the Republican nomination and possibly an independent, former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz.

Bernero is seen as a traditional Democrat with an ability to reach out to blue-collar voters, but he is virtually unknown outside Lansing and has a brash personality that occasionally has led to conflicts with some of his constituents.

Dillon has better name recognition around the state but isn’t trusted by some Democrats because of his inability as House speaker to save state spending important to Democrats and his sponsorship of a plan that would place all public employees’ health care into one system. He opposes abortion and embryonic stem cell research, two stances that could put him at odds with much of the Democratic base.

Kildee had hoped to be seen as more in tune with party values than Dillon and more steady than Bernero. But the unified backing he hoped to lock in didn’t happen.

In his statement, Kildee warned indirectly that it’s likely traditional Democratic voters would have split their votes in a four-way race among him, Bernero and Smith, allowing Dillon to grab the nomination.

"The will of the majority of Democratic primary voters would likely give way to the plurality of a minority of voters and our party’s nominee will go down to defeat in November," he said. "This is unacceptable to me."

Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney said last week that he had told his member unions that Kildee was a solid alternative to others in the race. Kildee spent 26 years as either a Genesee County commissioner or treasurer and oversaw many of the congressional campaigns of his uncle, U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, during the past three decades.

"Maybe he doesn’t light the world on fire, but he’s this sort of Steady Eddie guy … the kind of Democrat that Michigan voters traditionally like," Gaffney said. "If you’re really worried about Dillon’s unpredictability and you’re really worried about Virgil, this is your alternative."

That message apparently didn’t resonate with some Democratic activists.

Kildee is the fifth potential Democratic candidate to decide against running.

The others are U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, University of Michigan Regent Denise Ilitch, Major League Baseball executive Bob Bowman and Michigan State University Trustee George Perles.

State Sen. Hansen Clarke got in the race in January but then dropped out to concentrate on a congressional run.