Absentee ballots go into the mail in just two weeks. In Michigan, the attention and the massive ad spending is split between candidate races and two very high-profile ballot proposals.
Also this week on the podcast:
* President Biden makes his 6th visit as President to Michigan with another Trump visit to Macomb County in 2 weeks … * Michigan’s battle over Reproductive Healthcare Rights gets the attention of the entire nation …
* A surprising retirement from the state’s Supreme Court … * Mark has an exclusive interview with one of the key members of the newly formed Republicans for Whitmer: Jeff Timmer!
Then Jeff and Mark discuss candidates and ballot proposals with Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
Elected in February 2019, she is the first Black woman to hold this post. Prior to being elected Chair, Barnes was the Chief Operating Officer for the MDP, a post she held since 2015.
A political veteran with extensive experience in field, communications, and fundraising, Barnes has implemented and grown a year-round, full-time organizing strategy in every corner of Michigan. She is chief architect of MDP’s Project 83, started in 2017. It is the blueprint for a successful organizing model now being adopted by other states in the country, following Michigan’s lead.
Barnes is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Born in North Carolina, her family moved to Virginia where she spent the majority of her childhood. The mother of 3, Barnes lives with her family in Ann Arbor.
The two statewide tickets are set, with Republicans facing an uphill battle as the party’s All-MAGA slate tries to inch away from extreme positions on reproductive freedom, election integrity and state taxes. Also in the mix: some growing legal problems for more than a few Republican candidates. Mark and Jeff are joined by two non-partisan experts to help set the stage for the final 9 weeks of campaigning:
Bernie Porn, chief number cruncher for EPIC-MRA
Craig Mauger, politics and state government reporter for the Detroit News
Sitting in with Jeff Timmer this week, guest co-host Walt Sorg, one of the founders of Voters Not Politicians and a longtime Lansing political presence. This week:
A surprise Democratic victory in a New York special election. Is this a sign of things to come, or a strictly New York phenomenon?
New polling shows shoring up of Joe Biden’s approval numbers, and widespread support for the major elements of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Tudor Dixon’s running mate is a little-known former legislator … who may be just what she needed to avoid a circus-like state party convention this weekend.
Two GOP state house candidates face major questions about whether they actually live in the districts where they are running.
Joining the conversation is Walt’s onetime boss, Governor Jim Blanchard to assess the current Michigan political scene and how much the environment has changed in the 3 decades since Blanchard led the state.
Blanchard first came to statewide prominence as a young member of Congress who helped guide through the hugely successful federal bailout of Chrysler Corporation After serving two terms as Governor, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, and has been a highly successful partner with the D.C. legal powerhouse DLA Piper, a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific,
Blanchard’s two terms were highlighted by significant economic growth for the state, led by the state’s manufacturing sector.
While Joe Biden gets to celebrate a B.F.D., Republicans continue to pay homage to their Golden God nationally and in Michigan as the once Grand Old Party continues to disintegrate. One ominous sign (of many) for the GOP’s state ticket: a lack of money. The Whitmer/Gilchrist/Nessel/Benson ticket is banking millions for the fall campaign while the opposition campaigns operate on fumes.
Also this week: opponents of the Reproductive Freedom constitutional amendment lash out at the petition printer … the Republicans’ would-be Secretary of State heads to New Jersey for some Trump love even as the state GOP faces major financial woes … Democrats prepare for the best kind of party convention (boring and uneventful) … while Republicans start preliminary feuding over Tudor Dixon’s running mate in the run up to a state convention that promises too be the political equivalent of a UFC championship fight – admittedly, in the lightweight class.
A search warrant at Mar-A-Lago, a special prosecutor may put Matt DePerno’s campaign to be Michigan’s chief law enforcement official, and state Republicans look to what could be a volcanic summer convention. In other words, just another bizarre week in Michigan politics.
In Washington, a string of victories for President Biden. Congress is set to pass the biggest climate bill in history after already pushing through long-overdue support for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the first gun safety law in decades and much-needed jumpstart for a domestic microchips industry.
We’re joined this week by Michigan’s senior Democrat in Congress, Flint’s Dan Kildee. As Chief Deputy Whip—part of the Democratic leadership team in Congress—he acts as an important liaison among Members of Congress and the leadership to build support for Democratic priorities and legislation. Congressman Kildee serves on three committees: Ways and Means Committee, Budget and Science, Space and Technology.
Before being elected to Congress, Congressman Kildee co-founded and served as the president of the Center for Community Progress, a national non-profit organization focused on urban land reform and revitalization. He also founded Michigan’s first land bank—the Genesee County Land Bank—which is responsible for tens of millions of dollars in redevelopment in Flint. The Genesee County Land Bank later served as a model for over 100 other land banks across the nation. Previously, Congressman Kildee served as the Genesee County Treasurer, on the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and on the Flint Board of Education.
Reproductive rights win in ruby-red Kansas…
Peter Meijer pays the price…
DeVos money and (maybe) Trump’s endorsement does the job for Tudor Dixon…
Incumbents fall in state legislative races
We record the day after Tuesday’s primary election and are joined in the conversation by one of the shrewdest political analysts in the state: former Lt. Governor John Cherry.
Former staff member to Michigan State Senator Gary Corbin, Cherry served as the state political director for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees until 1982. He was then elected to the Michigan Legislature as a state Representative, state Senator and Senate Minority Leader. He then served 8 years as Lt. Governor under Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Cherry was respected and well-liked across the aisle and was a key ally for Granholm as she battled with legislative Republicans. He’s the first in a long line of family members in state government with at least one Cherry family member in state office since 1982: Cherry’s facJohn’s wife, sister and son have all served in the Michigan Legislature…and his sister is currently Genesee County treasurer.
On Primary Day his son John won the Democratic nomination for the state Senate after two terms in the state House.
The primary voting ends next Tuesday at 8 p.m. with multiple key battles brewing. The most visible is, of course, the most-bizarre-ever Republican primary for the right to take on Gretchen Whitmer in November, a campaign with five candidates who have never held public office beyond the local level. A week out polling still showed “undecided” in the lead, with Tudor Dixon and her DeVos-funded campaign holding a slight lead over self-funding millionaire Kevin Rinke and indicted January 6th insurrectionist Ryan Kelly.
Also at issue: four Congressional primaries. Three are Democratic battles in southeast Michigan; the fourth has first-term Republican Peter Meijer at a risk of losing to Big Lie believing Trump-backed John Gibbs.
Joining the conversation is veteran journalist Zach Gorchow, publisher of the Gongwer news report — a must-have subscription newsletter for Capitol insiders.
Gorchow has covered Lansing for nearly 24 years, 20 of them with Gongwer plus a four-year stint at the Detroit Free Press. He was named publisher of Gongwer in 2020, succeeding our recent guest John Lindstrom.
He began his journalism career as a reporter at Michigan State University’s nationally acclaimed student newspaper The State News. He graduated from MSU with a degree in international relations. Zach is a native of Birmingham where he attended Seaholm High School.
With just two weeks until the primary election, nearly 40% of Republican voters haven’t made up their mind between the five candidates. Three candidates are in a statistical tie; adding to the uncertainty is the impact of Democratic crossover votes, and whether Donald Trump will endorse a candidate.
Also on this week’s agenda:
Joining the conversation is David Eggert, senior reporter for politics and policy with Crain’s Detroit Business. Before joining Crain’s in May, he was Lansing bureau chief for the Associated Press for nearly 10 years.Eggert is a graduate of Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. He first covered Michigan state government 18 years ago as a reporter for the AP and assistant editor at the Lansing State Journal and is a native of Jackson, Michigan.
The absentee ballots have been mailed with many Republican voters still making up their minds on their candidate to take on Gretchen Whitmer? Which Bill Lie, anti-choice, pro-Trump, tax-cut-promising candidate to choose? Did Wednesday’s debate provide any clarification?
The debate did, though, give an hour of TV exposure to a series of factual misstatements, conspiracy theories and occasional intramural insults. Mark and Jeff offer their take on the debate (with condolences to moderator Rick Albin, a first-class journalist who was forced to keep silent when he heard b.s. flowing).
The podcast then moves onto providing an historical perspective to current politics with longtime state Capitol reporter and pundit John Lindstrom.
John’s tenure covering Michigan government and politics goes back 45 years, starting with the well-respected Gongwer Capitol Report in 1977. In 1986 he began a 6 year stint with Crain’s before returning to Gongwer in 1993 where he went from reporter to editor and then publisher. John has covered every Michigan governor since William Milliken and interviewed literally hundreds of state legislators, state department directors and Michigan members of Congress. He’s also covered the Michigan campaigns of dozens of presidential candidates, as well as a couple dozen ballot proposals. In short, he’s a walking Wikipedia of the last half-century of Michigan politics.