The GOP Goes Full-On MAGA



This week in politics:

  • Mark Brewer takes a victory lap as Pro-Choice advocates win a crucial court test
  • Multiple state legislative candidates knocked off the ballot by the Secretary of State
  • Mike Pence brings his defund the public schools campaign to Michigan
  • Pennsylvania’s GOP goes full MAGA; Democrats look to flip a Senate seat
  • Two MAGA candidates bite the dust: Madison Cawthorn falls in North Carolina, a Trump-backed challenge to the Governor of Idaho falls short

All that … inside info bundled with more than a little snark … on this week’s hosts-only presentation!


The Mooch and The Donald (Guest: Anthony Scaramucci)



This week in Michigan:
* The Republicans hold their first gubernatorial debate with James Craig MIA
* The candidates agree on opposing freedom of choice for women, with nuanced differences on who won in 2020
* Craig concedes petition fraud, but says it’s not his fault
* The Detroit Chamber limits participation in its upcoming debate to five candidates … leaving out Tudor Dixon

Jeff and Mark also weigh in on problems with two GOP-sponsored petition drives, changing Michigan’s term limits, a State Police investigation into former Speaker Lee Chatfield, new polling in the hotly contested 7th congressional district, and the GOP war within the Macomb County Republican Party.

Joining the conversation this week is “The Mooch”! Anthony Scaramucci is an American financier who served as the White House Director of Communications for 10 days in 2017.

Scaramucci’s worked at Goldman Sachs‘s investment banking, equities, and private wealth management divisions between 1989 and 1996. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he founded Oscar Capital Management, and in 2005, he founded the investment firm SkyBridge Capital.

(Mark) Days into his White House job, Scaramucci provoked controversy after launching a strongly-worded attack on members of the Trump Administration in an interview with The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza that he believed was off the record. Ten days after his appointment, he was dismissed by the new White House Chief of Staff, John F. Kelly, at the recommendation of President Donald Trump. He has since been critical of Trump in the media and voiced his support for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.


Roe v Wade Flips the Political Equation (Guest: Bill Nowling)



How does the pending demise of Roe v Wade change Michigan politics in 2022? Mark and Jeff examine the new political playing field with veteran Republican political operative Bill Nowling.

Bill Nowling

Nowling is Executive Director of Strategic Communication at DP+. Previously, he was communication director for Wayne County (Michigan). Nowling has been a professional communicator for the better part of a quarter century, and he has advised governors, mayors, chief executives, and corporations on how to effectively communicate and manage change. More recently, Mr. Nowling has consulted on the Detroit municipal bankruptcy, the Flint water crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to being a public relations practitioner, Nowling is a communication researcher and a Ph.D. candidate in risk and crisis communication at Wayne State University.

Also this week: a heavily flawed Trumper candidate loses a special state House election in a very Republican west Michigan district to a Democrat … the GOP gubernatorial primary campaign continues to breed uncertainty as the petitions of the presumed frontrunners are under the microscope … and one of those candidates has an acting background that could come back to bite her.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by EPIC • MRA, the state’s top-rated public
opinion research service. EPIC ▪ MRA offers expertise in:
• Public Opinion Surveys – Market Research Studies
• Live Telephone Surveys, On-Line and Automated Surveys
• Focus Group Research
• Bond Proposals – Millage Campaigns
• Political Campaigns Consulting
• Ballot Proposals/Issue Advocacy Research
• Community & Media Relations
• Issue Image Management
• Database Development & List Management


So Who Will Survive Petitiongate? (Guest: Jonathan Oosting)



The race to be the Republican nominee for Michigan Governor became the latest black eye for the Michigan GOP as petitions from at least 3 of the candidates may have fraudulent signatures. That could mean Perry Johnson, James Craig and/or Tudor Dixon don’t even show up on the primary ballot. Craig has even more problems as northern Michigan Congressman Jack Bergman switches his endorsement from Craig to Johnson, and the former Detroit police chief reports lackluster fundraising.

Adding to the drama of the week: a state party convention described by multiple Republicans as a “shit show” as delegates endorsed Trump-back Big Lie believers for Attorney General and Secretary of State. John Truscott, who served as communications director for former Republican Gov. John Engler, tweeted
On top of that, would-be state House Speaker Matt Maddock was expelled from the House GOP caucus, and congressional candidate Tom Barrett dove head-first into the swamp by alleging support for sexual exploitation of children by his opponent. Helping us wade through the week’s GOP chaos is award-winning reporter Jonathan Oosting of Bridge Michigan. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and has previously worked for The Detroit News and MLive Media Group. He is Grand Rapids native and lives in Lansing with his wife and new daughter Mara (who makes a cameo appearance!).

________________________________________________________________________________

This week’s podcast is sponsored by EPIC • MRA, the state’s top-rated public opinion research service.

EPIC ▪ MRA is a full service survey research firm with expertise in:

  • Public Opinion Surveys – Market Research Studies

  • Live Telephone Surveys, On-Line and Automated Surveys

  • Focus Group Research

  • Bond Proposals – Millage Campaigns

  • Political Campaigns & Consulting

  • Ballot Proposals – Issue Advocacy Research

  • Community – Media Relations

  • Issue – Image Management

  • Database Development & List Management


And then there were 10… (Guest: Buzz Thomas)



The Republican culture wars was on full, ugly display in Michigan this week…and denounced by one of its targets. State Senator Mallory McMorrow’s floor speech responding to Senator Lana Theis’ fundraising email insinuation that McMorrow was “grooming” children for a life of sexual exploitation went viral with 10-million views and national media attention.
 
Also this week: 10 Republicans filed signatures for a place on the gubernatorial primary ballot. Who benefits most from a crowded field? 
 
Joining the conversation this week is veteran communications consultant and former state legislator Buzz Thomas of Detroit. He is the founder and CEO of Thomas Group Consulting. Thomas spent 14 years in the Michigan legislature – the maximum allowed under term limits – including serving as Democratic Floor Leader in the Senate and as Democratic Leader in the House. He was co-chairman of the 2008 Michigan Presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
 

In 2013 he founded and co-chaired Turnaround Detroit, the Super PAC credited with electing Mike Duggan Detroit’s mayor. While serving, his expertise in the areas of healthcare, education reform, business development incentives and arts and culture, a personal passion led to the creation of rigorous academic standards for Michigan schools and creation of tax incentive laws that helped spur development in Detroit.

His success in the legislature led to more than two-dozen leadership awards, ranging from being named the legislator of the year by the Michigan Association of Regions to earning the Peacemaker Award from Wayne State University.


Flipping West Michigan (Guest: Hillary Scholten)



Multiple Republican county conventions devolved into chaos as Trump backers faced off with the party’s onetime establishment. Mark and Jeff analyze the fallout from the growing divide in the party and its implications for this fall. Also in our “legitimate political discourse”: the Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Michigan’s abortion ban; and the police killing of an unarmed African American in Grand Rapids. Both have significant political implications.

Joining the conversation this week is one of the national Democratic Party’s strongest hopes for “flipping” a congressional district, immigration attorney Hillary Scholten. She’s running in the newly drawn district centered in Grand Rapids where incumbent Republican Peter Meijer faces a Trump-supported primary opponent for the sin of voting in favor of impeaching Trump for instigating the January 6 insurrection. 

Scholten is an attorney with the Miller Johnson law firm in Grand Rapids. She is expert in immigration law, having served as Staff Attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Judicial Law Clerk & Attorney Advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice Board of Immigration, and Immigration Staff Attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by EPIC/MRA, the state’s top-rated public opinion research service.
EPIC ▪ MRA is a full service survey research firm with expertise in:

  • Public Opinion Surveys – Market Research Studies

  • Live Telephone Surveys, On-Line and Automated Surveys

  • Focus Group Research

  • Bond Proposals – Millage Campaigns

  • Political Campaigns & Consulting

  • Ballot Proposals – Issue Advocacy Research

  • Community – Media Relations

  • Issue – Image Management

  • Database Development & List Management


Taxes, Scandals and Campaigns (Guest: Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr.)



Trump gives a Castro-esque nearly two-hour speech in Macomb County, promoting his Big Lie believing candidates for Michigan Secretary of State and Attorney General … much to the consternation of non-Trumpist Republicans.

A tale of two campaigns: Congressman Fred Upton decides he’s had enough, and would-be Attorney General Tom Leonard is pushed to the exits by his party’s chairperson.

Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr.

Joining Mark and Jeff this week for a wide-ranging conversation is state Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing).

Sen. Hertel came to the Senate after more than a decade of service in local government as an Ingham County Commissioner and later the county’s Register of Deeds. As a county commissioner he successfully led the charge for creating the Ingham Health Plan, a low-cost program to provide uninsured residents with basic heathcare. As Register of Deeds Hertel pioneered a program to protect homeowners against having their homes stolen by identity thieves and foreclosure scams.
In the state Senate he is minority vice chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Speaker Curtis Hertel, Sr.

Sen. Hertel’s family has a long history of public service. He is the son of former state House co-Speaker Curtis Hertel. His uncles, Dennis and John Hertel, both served in the state Legislature with Dennis serving 12 years in Congress. His younger brother, Kevin, was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2016 and is currently running for the state Senate in Macomb County. In addition, his wife Elizabeth serves as director of the state‘’s Department of Health and Human Services.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by EPIC/MRA, the state’s top-rated public opinion research service.

EPIC ▪ MRA is a full service survey research firm with expertise in:

  • Public Opinion Surveys – Market Research Studies

  • Live Telephone Surveys, On-Line and Automated Surveys

  • Focus Group Research

  • Bond Proposals – Millage Campaigns

  • Political Campaigns & Consulting

  • Ballot Proposals – Issue Advocacy Research

  • Community – Media Relations

  • Issue – Image Management

  • Database Development & List Management




The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (Guest: John Sipher)



The focus in Michigan politics this week is the apparent takeover of the state Republican Party by the Trump Big Lie faction even as the gloves come off in the race for the Attorney General. Bridge Michigan published a major “opposition research” dump on the sketchy professional resume of frontrunner Matt DePerno. DePerno’s campaign is also under pressure for him to disclose how he used $400,000 in contributions raised in the name of fighting for “election integrity” (meaning another audit of the 2020 election).

Topping the week will be a Trump rally in northern Macomb County in support of DePerno and Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo, another Trump acolyte who preaches the Big Lie. What other Republicans will show up? Just as significant will be the list of Republicans who skip the rally.

Meanwhile, Republicans are focusing on the promise to “Fix the Damn Roads” campaign pledge by Gretchen Whitmer, running an ad that could boomerang on the GOP as billions flow into road repairs in a matter of weeks, and continuing right up to Election Day.

In our second segment, Mark and Jeff are joined by former CIA spymaster John Sipher.

John Sipher retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, which included serving in Moscow and running the CIA’s Russia operations. Sipher served multiple overseas tours, as Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station, in Europe, the Balkans, Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. He also ran Russian operations at headquarters. He retired as a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, and received the CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. He is the co-founder of Spycraft Entertainment, a global production company run by former senior intelligence officers from the US and UK and experienced Hollywood producers.

With the war in Ukraine dominating the headlines, there’s nobody better to help us get into the mind of today’s version of the James Bond super-villain, war criminal Vladimir Putin.




A Good/Great Week for Whitmer (Guest: Chad Livengood)



Governor Whitmer gained some powerful evidence of leadership for her reelection campaign with a pair of huge victories: announcement of a $1.7-billion expansion of a car-battery plant in west Michigan (weeks after GM’s $7-billion investment commitment for electric vehicles and battery manufacturing); and an agreement with the Republican Legislature on a $4.7-billion supplemental spending bill which invests heavily in schools and infrastructure (roads, bridges, water supplies and more).

Also this week: the state board of canvassers gets shot down on a blatantly partisan change in the requirements for all political petitions; Donald Trump plans to visit the Trumpiest county in Michigan, Macomb; and there’s a formidable new candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court.

Joining the conversation this week is Crain’s Detroit senior editor Chad Livengood. Livengood covers Michigan politics, public policy and the revitalization of Detroit after decades of economic, social and political decline. His focus is on writing about the people, institutions and ideas that will be vital to returning a middle class to the poorest big city in America along with the politics and state policy issues impacting the state’s largest urban center.

Prior to joining Crain’s Chad covered state government for five years for the Detroit News. Earlier in his career he covered state government and politics in both Delaware and Illinois. He’s a graduate of Central Michigan University where he was editor in chief of the student newspaper.


Putin’s War (Guest: Kremlinologist Olga Lautman)



There’s plenty going on in Michigan politics. Jeff and Mark offer their takes on the apparent domination of Donald Trump in Michigan politics, and the massive field of Democratic candidates in the Detroit-based 13th congressional district.

In our second segment, our focus shifts to Putin’s vicious war on Ukraine. Joining the conversation is one of the nation’s leading experts on the opaque world of the Putin dictatorship, Olga Lautman.

Lautman is a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. She is also the creator and co-host of Kremlin File podcast series, which features expert discussions on the Kremlin’s internal affairs, global operations, and tactics used from their hybrid warfare toolkit to destabilize Western democracies.

Her research focuses on the cross-section of organized crime and intelligence operations in Russia and Ukraine, their impact on the West, and the monitoring of active measures campaigns conducted by the Kremlin to destabilize democratic practices and influence foreign elections.