Subverting Future Elections (Guest: Charlie Sykes)

Jeff Timmer and Mark Brewer take a look at an under-reported effort by state Republicans to bring potential chaos to the 2024 election: stacking local boards of canvassers with “Big Lie” disciples. The end game: instead of voters deciding the outcome, Michigan’s Legislature decides who gets the state’s electoral votes.

They are then joined by outspoken conservative commentator Charlie Sykes, a lifelong Republican who was one of the first never-Trumpers.

Sykes is founder and editor-in-chief of the website The Bulwark and host of the Bulwark podcast. From 1993 to 2016, Sykes hosted a conservative talk show on WTMJ in Milwaukee. He was also the editor of Right Wisconsin.

Sykes did not support the Donald Trump presidential 2016 bid, campaigning against him and instead choosing to cast a write-in vote for independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin.

(Jeff) In December 2016, Sykes wrote an op-ed for The New York Times suggesting that the conservative movement had lost its way during the 2016 campaign, saying “…as we learned this year, we had succeeded in persuading our audiences to ignore and discount any information from the mainstream media. Over time, we’d succeeded in delegitimizing the media altogether — all the normal guideposts were down, the referees discredited.”


The ONLY Issue – Saving Our Democracy (Guest: Max Boot)

The Big Lie lives on in Michigan and nationally. Mark Brewer and Jeff Timmer comment on the latest efforts to disrupt our democratic system through Trump’s core mendacity.

They are then joined by columnist and military historian Max Boot, a self-described former conservative Republican who now says the overriding issue today is preserving our democratic republic.

Boot has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for the Washington Post.

He has written five other best-selling books, including The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. 

Boot was a senior foreign policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2007–08, Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2011–12, and Marco Rubio’s campaign in 2015-2016. He served as an adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has lectured on behalf of the U.S. State Department and at many military institutions, including the Army, Navy, and Air War Colleges, the Australian Defense College, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, West Point, and the Naval Academy.


Political Strategy Reimagined (Guest: Dr. Rachel Bitecofer)

President Biden launches a national blitz for his agenda in Michigan. Jeff Timmer and Mark Brewer analyze the President’s choice of location, and the impact of Build Back Better on Michigan Politics.

Then they are joined by political scientist and new-age campaign consultant Dr. Rachel Bitecofer.

Bitecofer is founder of the STRIKE-PAC. The mission:
Where Democratic electioneering is now slow and reactive, STRIKE PAC makes it fast and proactive. With STRIKE PAC and other key innovators like Stacey Abrams leading the way, Democrats will be able to campaign more effectively in a polarized, hyper-partisan environment where “who votes” determines “who wins” and effective messaging and branding strategies are crucial to a party’s success.

Dr. Bitecofer earned her Ph.D. in political science and international affairs from the University of Georgia. In 2015 she became a lecturer at Christopher Newport University and assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy where she conducted polling. In 2019 moved to the Niskanen Center, a
centrist think tank in Washington, D.C. Her analysis has appeared on multiple media platforms including MSNBC and The New York Times. She wrote the 2017 book
The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election on the election of Donald Trump and runs a podcast titled The Election Whisperer.

By the Numbers (Guest: Pollster Celinda Lake)

Mark Brewer discusses the ballot proposal he’s launching towards getting rid of the Electoral College (no more 2nd-place finishers in the White House), and Jeff analyzes another chaotic week for Michigan Republicans as their big-ticket Mackinac Conference finishes 2nd in attendance to a grassroots rally of party insurgents.

They are then joined by nationally renowned pollster Celinda Lake.

Lake is one of the Democratic Party’s leading political strategists. She was one of two lead pollsters for the Biden campaign in 2020 and continues to serve as a pollster to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), other national party committees, and dozens of Democratic incumbents and challengers at all levels of the electoral process. Celinda and her firm, Lake Research Partners, are known for cutting-edge research on issues including the economy, health care, the environment, and education. Her international work has included work in Liberia, Belarus, Ukraine, South Africa, and Central America.

Since its formation, Lake Research Partners has become one of the most respected Democratic polling firms in the country. The firm’s work has moved the progressive agenda forward on a variety of issues. Working against conservatives, Celinda’s research demonstrated that the phrase “religious political extremists” was much more communicative than the vernacular “religious right.” In the health care arena, her research has shown that talking about “reducing health care costs” is key, as well as focusing on the 8 out of 10 working families without adequate health insurance.

Lake is one of the nation’s foremost experts on electing women candidates and on framing issues to women voters. American Politics calls Celinda a “super-strategist or, better yet, the Godmother,” and Working Woman says she is “arguably the most influential woman in her field.” She is renowned for her groundbreaking research on single women voters in conjunction with the Voter Participation Center and has helped elect numerous female candidates, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Senator Barbara Mikulski – also known as the “Dean” of Women Senators –  former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, former Attorney General Patricia Madrid – the first Hispanic woman Attorney General in New Mexico– and former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun in her historic victory to become the first African-American woman to be elected to the United States Senate. Celinda has also worked with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House.

Celinda has a long record of defeating incumbents, including congressional races for former Representative Donna Edwards, Representative Jerry McNerney, and former Representative Tim Walz. Celinda has also defeated several incumbents in the Senate, electing Senator Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, Senator Jon Tester in Montana, and former Senator Mark Begich in Alaska. She polled for West Virginia Governor Bob Wise’s win over incumbent Cecil H. Underwood. And, in 2006, Celinda was an integral part of the successful effort to help Democrats take back control of the House of Representatives.

Lake Research Partners has a long history of successful statewide initiative campaigns. Celinda polled in California to beat parental notification initiatives three times in a row. In 2006, Celinda helped with successful minimum wage campaigns in five states and was the pollster on the first successful effort to defeat an anti-gay marriage initiative in Arizona.

During the 1992 election cycle, Lake oversaw focus group research for the Clinton-Gore campaign and served as a general consultant throughout the campaign. She is also credited with identifying key voter groups including Reagan seniors, NASCAR dads, waitress moms, the marriage gap, and generation D. In 2005, she and Kellyanne Conway published What Women Really Want, which examines the ways women are changing the political landscape in America, with the Free Press.

Prior to forming Lake Research Partners, Celinda was partner and Vice President at Greenberg-Lake. Her earlier experience includes serving as Political Director of the Women’s Campaign Fund, as the Research Director at the Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and as a Policy Analyst for the Subcommittee on Select Education.

Lake is a native of Montana—born and raised on a ranch—and one of the political world’s most avid whitewater rafters. She holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Survey Research from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a certificate in Political Science from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She received her undergraduate degree from Smith College in Massachusetts, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumna Medal by the College. She received the lifetime achievement award from the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) with Republican Ed Goeas for her work on the Battleground Poll.

Our Own Worst Enemy (guest: Dr. Tom Nichols)

Mark Brewer and Jeff Timmer offer their take on Donald Trump’s intrusion into the Michigan GOP races for Secretary of State and Attorney General. Will his backing of far-right “Big Lie” promoters overcome the private hesitancy of party chair Ron Weiser?
The two of them are also veterans of multiple battles over redistricting. They analyze the first draft maps published by the new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Michigan loses one seat in Congress. Which party is more likely to prevail with the proposed boundaries?

In the second segment they are joined by international affairs expert and best-selling author Dr. Tom Nichols.

Nichols is the author of the newly published best seller Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from within on Modern Democracy. His previous 7 books includes The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters, published in 2017, a study of why people mistrust established knowledge and how this damages democratic stability. … a title even more relevant 4 years later.

Nichols is an academic specialist on international affairs, currently a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and at the Harvard Extension School. His work deals with issues involving Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs. He was previously a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Nichols describes himself as a Never Trump conservative and a former Republican. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Nichols argued that conservatives should vote for Hillary Clinton, whom he detested, because Trump was “too mentally unstable” to serve as commander-in-chief. Nichols continued that argument for the 2018 midterm elections.

Can the GOP Be Saved from Itself? (Guest: Joe Trippi)

The gubernatorial campaign of James Craig got off to a rocky start with a blunder-filled “official” announcement. Mark and Jeff evaluate the would-be political slayer of Gretchen Whitmer. They also have a harsh assessment of state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s
“suggestion” that universities rely less on vaccinations and more on natural immunity.
They are then joined by legendary political consultant Joe Trippi.

Joe Trippi is a nationally renowned political strategist who has worked on several gubernatorial, United States Senate, and Congressional campaigns, including Jerry Brown for Governor of California and Doug Jones for U.S. Senate in Alabama. He has worked for several Democratic presidential campaigns, most notably as manager of the Howard Dean 2004 presidential campaign. He currently serves as a political commentator for CNN.

Trippi first came to prominence as Deputy Campaign Manager for Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s successful reelection bid in 1981 and his unsuccessful run in the 1982 California gubernatorial election. During Bradley’s gubernatorial campaign, Trippi installed one of the first in-house computers for a political campaign. Trippi used it for fundraising and targeting.

Since then, Trippi has helped lead winning campaigns for House members Tulsi Gabbard, Janice Hahn, Mark Takano, and Seth Moulton. In 2017, Trippi worked on the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions on behalf of Doug Jones. In his victory speech, Jones referred to Trippi as the “greatest political consultant in the world”.

Trippi is also the host of the “That Trippi Show” podcast.

The Politics of Abortion, Voter Suppression and School Boards

This week Mark Brewer and Jeff Timmer discuss in depth three of the issues that are driving politics:

  • The Texas ban on virtually all abortions, 49 years after Roe v Wade
  • The red-blue divide on voter suppression laws
  • The new, organized far-right effort to control school boards through intimidation and organization

Along the way, we get their analysis of why the upcoming state Republican summit on Mackinac Island is losing speakers. Mike Pence and Nikki Haley are “out” – are others also suddenly developing “scheduling conflicts”?

Voter Suppression and Redistricting (Guest: Katie Fahey)

Mark and Jeff focus on the latest Republican voter suppression petition drive and how time is running out if the GOP wants the changes in Michigan law to be in effect for the 2022 election.

Then they are joined by Katie Fahey, founder of Voters Not Politicians, in a discussion of how the new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is doing its job.

In November, 2016, Katie Fahey put a simple 2-sentence message on Facebook: “I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan. If you’re interesting in doing this as well, please let me know.” followed by a smiley face emoticon, That simple post led to a statewide movement of more than 7,000 people who shocked the political world by amending Michigan’s constitution.

A graduate of Aquinas College, Katie is now a nationally recognized expert in grassroots activism. She is the first executive director of the non-profit organization The which provides support for local grassroots movements nationwide.


By the Numbers (Guest: Pollster Bernie Porn)

How does the new John Lewis Voting Rights Act – passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives – offer the potential for breaking the Senate deadlock over the filibuster? Mark Brewer explains changes in the bill and tells why it could convince Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to support bypassing the filibuster to enact the bill.

Then, Mark and Jeff Timmer are joined by the co-founder of Michigan’s top polling company, Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA. Now in its 36th year, the company is ranked as Michigan’s top polling firm by Porn has nearly a half-century in public policy research, beginning as a staffer for the Michigan House of Representatives.

EPIC·MRA is the most quoted polling firm in Michigan and regularly cited by both national and state media outlets.
Michigan media clients include Detroit Free Press, WXYZ TV7, WOOD TV8, WJRT TV12 and WLNS TV6. The company’s most recent poll, conducted for the Free Press, is at the heart of today’s discussion.

Gaslighting Trump’s America (Guest: Amanda Carpenter)

What does the census mean for upcoming Michigan elections? In the opening segment Mark Brewer and Jeff Timmer, both veterans of redistricting wars, analyze the changes in Michigan’s population. And they discuss the re-emergence of John Engler on the Michigan political stage.

In segment two, they are joined by Amanda Carpenter.

Carpenter is an American author, political advisor, and speechwriter. She is a former senior staffer to Senators Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz. She was a columnist for The Washington Times from 2009 to 2010 and regularly appears as a political contributor on CNN.

Carpenter grew up in Montrose, Michigan. She worked as a congressional correspondent for Human Events from 2005 to 2007 before going to to become its national political reporter.

In July 2015, Carpenter returned to her journalism career. She is a contributor for CNN. She is known for critiquing President Trump, in particular his treatment of women. Carpenter has said that she agrees with some of his policy decisions, but that the scandals surrounding his presidency make it “very difficult” to defend him. In her 2018 book Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us, she critiques Trump’s propensity for lying.