Blogs > Skoop's Blog

In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Not So Favorite Son

Oakland County's favorite son turns out not to be much of a
favorite in the contest for State Attorney General. This is not good
news for the Mike Bishop for A.G. campaign which continues to play
second fiddle to front-runner Bill Schuette on the GOP side.
In the latest polling date which is not statewide but focused only
on Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, undecided wins in a landslide
with 42% of the folks in that column.
No big shocker there since finding a replacement for Mike Cox is
not exactly making headlines these days.
Nonetheless you would expect that Mr. Bishop, who has served
Oakland County in both the house and senate would gobble up more than
the "whopping" 19% he got from his home county. Schuette who did not
grow up anywhere near Oakland County is within striking distance at
12% of the Oakland County tally.
However, it is not all bad news for the "favorite son." With hard
core GOP voters in those three areas, Bishop rounds-up 33% of the vote
to Schuette's 20%. And that finding is significant in that those
hard-corers (if that is a word) are the ones who will pick the A.G.
nominee at a GOP state convention this August.
On the gender front, Bishop does better with males as 45% of all
female voters sitting comfortably on the fence.
At this juncture, to be frank, any polling is not only a snap
shot, it's probably no indicator of the outcome as all of the
candidates are not vying for the public's attention. They need
delegate support since they are the ones who will pick the winner.
BTW the lone Democrat, David Leyton who defeated Richard Bernstein
for that party's nomination, beat the two R's by a 29-17% margin over
Bishop and 29-9% over Schuette.
Leyton is the Genesee County prosecutor in case you're wondering
who the heck he is, too

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Snyder Uses Career Politicians

If you are like most voters, the only stuff you know about GOP
candidate for governor Rick Snyder is what you see in his TV
By now you know he is a nerd. You have also probably
determined that the Ann Arbor business guy is not a career politician
and has a total disdain for those who are. (Although he says he would
hire some if he became governor.)
At every juncture he tweaks his opponents as being career
politicians one and all. In fact it has gotten so embarrassing for
some that they have reinvented themselves as "career public servants"
instead. It may be a distinction without a difference but who the heck
Yet there are some puzzling aspects to Mr. Snyder's
anti-politician mantra. For openers he has surrounded himself with
campaign advisors, strategists, and other hangers-on who are, Ta-Da,
career politicians. Sure they are not elected officials but they've
been in the political trenches for ions and have found a client who
needs them as much as they need him for a weekly pay check.
Mr. Snyder has also made some very "career politician-like"
moves. He wears no tie. Is that because he doesn't like tight things
around his neck or is it because his career political advisors are
trying to mold an image that voters will like?
Building an image is as career politician as you can get.
Next some of his commercials have been right out of the career
pol's playbook although he has been good at dressing them up not to
look that way.
Knowing that his opponent Mike Cox has a "Kwame" problem visa vie
the Cox investigation of the party at the former Mayor's mansion that
never happened, the first Snyder TV ad featured a picture of Mr. Cox
immediately followed by a pic of Mr. Mayor. It was subtle but the
linkage was unmistakable. Even career political advisor John Weaver
conceded that nothing in the campaign is done by accident.
And then the most recent commercial where Snyder denounces all the
"bickering" in politics. He seemingly rises about the fray but then
neatly tucked into the ad, he repeats the very same charges that Mike
Cox and Pete Hoekstra have hurled at each other.
So Snyder gets a chance to question Hoekstra's spending habits in
Congress and once more raises the "Kwame" problem as it relates to Cox.
It was clever, sneaky and very career politician-ish.
In fact the Cox folks jump a step further calling Mr. Snyder a

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mr. Nice Guy

On the road to the state house, GOP candidate for governor Pete
Hoekstra has had a conversion. Two weeks ago one of his handlers boldly
suggested that fellow candidate Mike Cox had some "skeletons" in his
closet having to do with the never proven party at the home of former
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick a.k.a. 702408.
The comment caught everyone's attention including Hoekstra who
apparently did not sign off before the fact.
Now the West Michigan Congressman asserts that just because Cox has
unloaded a batch of negative ads against him, he will turn the other
"We've told the staff we'll run our campaign above board. We're not
going to get into a tar fight," he now says.
Hoekstra concedes that the Cox ads will impact the Congressman's
front-runner status. "We'll take a short term hit," he concedes but
underscores that he won't go negative to gain it back.
"I'm not going to sell my soul to become governor of this state and
have to live with being held accountable for running a mean-spirited
campaign. That's not who I am," he asserts with a voice that is
losing its strength after weeks of campaigning.
Asked if he was referring to Mr. Cox, and obviously he was, he
retorts, "I'm not talking about anybody."
He also had some choice words for fellow GOP contender Rick Snyder.
The latter is running an ad calling Hoesktra a good man while at
the same time questioning his congressional spending habits just like
Cox has been doing.
It was a "back-handed compliment' Hoekstra observes and a
"back-handed slap" all in the same commercial.
Nonetheless as he stays on the high road, he says, "I don't care
where other campaigns go."
Oh yeah, he did agree with Snyder that he, Hoekstra is a nice guy.
But you know what can happen to nice guy sometimes..

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Too Much Hanky Panky

Wow. Tuesday was the newsday from you know where.
Kwame goes to slammer for at least 18 months.
The Maze and Blue look black and blue after self-imposed
A Detroit legislator, up to her neck in a fight for a new
bridge between Detroit and Windsor, discovers her tires slashed.
And the Michigan Senate salutes rock singer and Niles
native Tommy James.
If it's all the same to you, let's go with the Tommy James
story for a little breather from all the bad news.
Tommy James and the Shondells made their mark on the music
scene with monster hits such as Mony, Mony, I Think We're Alone Now
and of course, who could forget, Hanky Panky which could be the theme
song for the three stories listed above. But we digress.
Anyhow, the decidedly conservative state senate in this town
decided it was time to honor Mr. James and just before he entered the
chambers he chatted about how he almost wasn't Tommy James.
As he kicked around in Niles with his teen-age rock band, he
came across the tune, Hanky Panky. He asked the good folks at WNIL,
the AM station in town, to tape it and a record was pressed and that
was that.
James was on the road working bars when his two week
"engagement" came to an abrupt end as the bar gave its last, last call
and closed.
"I came back to Niles," he continues this rags to riches
saga. Little did he know that way over in Pittsburgh P.A. a local D.J.
was rummaging through a record store bin when he uncovered Hanky Panky.
He played it and, well you know the rest.
James got a call and dashed out to Pittsburgh where the disc
jockey had "bootlegged" the song and sold 80,000 copies. But James had
no band. It had dis-banded as they often did. So he hooked up with a
local bar band and headed off to the Big Apple to hawk his smash hit.
"Only in America," he smiles.
Just before the senate salute, he was asked to sing the first
"My baby does the Hanky Panky," he started and then stopped.
"If I sing any more, you'll have to pay the royalties," he
Sure beats going to jail, or going on probation or buying
new tires.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Weak Impact of Rally's

It's impossible to count the number of protestors who
have been on the capitol steps to gripe about this or that. Over the
last forty years, it has to be in the hundreds of thousands.
And here's the dirty little secret: In most cases the
impact the demonstrators had on the lawmakers was zilch.
Oh sure, occasionally legislators looked out at the
folks on the lawn and then went back to doing darn well whatever they
wanted to do as if the mass on grass had never been there in the first
That does sound callus and very un-American but in the
real political world that's just the way it is.
There are some exceptions however.
During the height of the Viet Nam war back in the dark
ages, about 10,000 colleges students, mostly from near by Michigan
State University, staged a massive march on the capitol. It was
impressive in that most of the time college kids could care less about
politics. Funny thing about the possibility of being drafted and
killed; it does get your attention..
Years later another crowd of 10,000 or so actually had
an impact on legislation. Instead of long haired hippies, this time
lawmakers saw a sea of white coats as doctors flooded the capitol lawn
to make their point on malpractice insurance. They eventually got a
bill; it wasn't perfect but their protest did resonate with the
More recently the first batch of Tea Party rebels, maybe
4,000 or more strong, started their campaign to fix everything that is
wrong with government. Lawmakers took note because these folks
reflected the anger that is out there and even lawmakers could figure
out, some of these Tea Party players might actually vote legislators
out of office if they did not listen.
Actually the only benefactors of all these events is the
news media. Toss five or six thousands chanting demonstrators on the
capitol lawn and you have an instant made story. Nice visuals, upset
citizens, and after a few hours, things return to normal.
But the lasting impact ain't much, but that doesn't stop them
from showing up.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dillon Needs Win # 2

Basking in the thrill of victory and wanting to avoid the agony of
defeat, Team Dillon is hoping to make it two wins in a row on health
House Speaker Andy Dillon was getting high marks for making a deal
that the Michigan Education Association did not like. Some how it felt
teachers were tossed under the bus visa vie the Granholm-Dillon-Bishop
plan to lure 29,000 school workers into retirement.
Dillon wasted little time posting the "win" on his campaign website
as exhibit A of his ability to lead under tough circumstances.
But in a town where the mantra is, what have you done for me lately,
Dillon now confronts an even steeper hill to mount i.e. his state
operated health care scheme that he unveiled last September to not
exactly raved reviews.
On this one it was not only the MEA that was aghast, but other
labor leaders climbed all over the democratic speaker who took a
pounding but never tossed in the towel.
Which is why he was back last week with a revision of his original
"We listened to the complaints and made some changes," he offered
after his re launch before a special house committee.
Dillon figures local governments and the state can squeeze
$700-800 million in savings out of the health care system by getting
state government into the act.
Let's be charitable, Plan B did not have them standing in the
aisles either.
But with Dillon in full campaign mode for governor, the very last
thing he wants is another shellacking at the hands of all those
democratic special interest groups.
His opponent, the feisty and rambunctious Mayor of Lansing Virg
Benero, can hardly wait to run an attack ad that says, "When my
opponent said he could lead on health care, he produced a goose egg
So once more Mr. Dillon must motivate his fractured caucus to win
one more for the Gipper. (Tons of democrats refused to give him a yes
vote on the teacher plan.)
Having just walked the plank on teacher retirement, the 16
Democrats who supported the Speaker may not be so eager to walk it
again, just so he can post another glowing report about his leadership
prowess on his website.
After all many of those 16 are also running for office, too.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

GOP: No to Troopers

Senate Republicans claim to be for public safety, but when those
entities come a-knockin' to raise some money to fund those services,
they are getting the door slammed in their mugs.
The senate GOP is demonstrating enormous party discipline as it
adheres to its pledge not to raise taxes to balance the books and come
you-know-what or high water they won't budge even if a higher crime
rate is at risk.
The Michigan State Trooper's Association is not smiling.
It's ranks are already at a 40 year low, according to the union
president and "it's going to go even lower" Chris Luty warns the public.
Within two weeks 60 senior officers will be out the door and in
the coming months another 40 could be right behind.
That's true, confides Sen Valde Garcia who runs the state police
budget in the senate. The Brighton Republican is a big fan of the MSP
and even, parish the thought, tried to jam through some revenue raisers
to avert those troop reductions.
He got an "A" for effort from the union but an "F" from his
colleagues in the senate GOP. Maybe he misplaced the memo about no tax
increase-no way?
Both he and Luty warn that a loss of trooper strength puts more
pressure on local police agencies to pick up the slack and they are
facing their own round of losses due to reductions in state aid to the
"The delayed response times (will be) unlike anything they've ever
seen before," Luty sounds the alarm for the typical citizen stuck with
a crime, traffic accident or other woes.
It looks like this is a classic case of good public policy taking
a back seat to election year politics.
"During an election year, you would think that we would prioritize
public safety and find the funding for that because nobody objects to
funding for public safety,' Luty foolishly opines.
Apparently the feeling is not mutual in the senate GOP ranks where
"thinking" and winning elections are two different things.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bleed Him Dry

GOP candidate for governor Mike Cox is on a mission. He wants to
bleed all the money out of the Pete Hokestra campaign before the August
3rd primary.
Now you might ask, how can one candidate do that to another?
Simple: You run attacks ads which puts your opponent in a box
with two options: Sit on your money and don't purchase any ads to
counteract the attacks or spend your money now to do that. By
exercising the latter choice, you run the risk of running out of moola
the closer you get to the election when more citizens are paying
Cox knows this and so do the Hoekstra people. So far Hoekstra has
made a modest effort to mute the Cox ads that suggest the Michigan
Congressman is a big spender of your tax dollars in Washington.
Last week came the first ad and the Hoekstra camp scrambled to
assembly a tepid response that did not get a ton of exposure compared
to the bigger ad purchase made by the Cox folks.
This week a new attack ad and so far no response from the Hoekstra
camp. It's unclear if their first commercial continues to air around
the state.
The popular wisdom in town has Hoekstra struggling to convert his
grassroots support in West Michigan into checks. So he is not
overflowing with money while the Cox campaign coffers are looking
The commercials are an act of "desperation" decries Hoekstra
mouthpiece John Truscott. J.T. contends Cox is losing support in the
polls and has to act now to salvage his candidacy by trying to slice
into Hoekstra's lead.
Team Hoekstra expects to take a hit as a result of these ads.
Over in the Cox shop campaign manager Stu Sandler argues the ads
"are a show of strength" not desperation.
So in all likelihood those attacks will continue and the Hoekstra
folks will have to decide to shut up or cough up. Either way it's a
roll of the dice for the Congressman and the smiles you see over there
are from Mr. Cox and company as they monitor the blood flow out of the
Hoekstra campaign.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boom-Boom Is Dud-Dud

It was with high hopes that the Michigan House last week, with
79 votes, sent to the senate that fireworks bill designed to halt the
smuggling of "real" explosives into the state from Indiana and Ohio.
So much for that. The bill is a dud in the senate.
"We've got a lot more important issues before our committee,"
intones Macomb County GOP Senator Alan Sanborn.
His answer is legislative short hand for, this thing is going
nowhere fast and I'll make sure of that.
Sanborn remembers when he was a kid and each 4th of July "some
kid would blow off his hand" and Sanborn pledges to make sure those
kind of "tragic consequences" don't reappear.
But hold the phone. The state would reap about $5 million in the
sales tax and related revenue if the major fireworks bill was adopted.
Sanborn, who is loathed to raise taxes, is not impressed with this back
door revenue raiser.
"At what cost?" he asks as he quietly shoves the bill into the
equivalent of the legislative elephant burial ground.
Poor Rep. Harold Haugh (D-Roseville) who confided that he was
confident he could push this thing through the senate committee
because, "I've known Alan for a long time and we are friends."
So much for friendship.
Sanborn left very little wiggle room in this debate refusing to
declare it dead forever. There might be a "reason" to bring it up but
when pressed it was clear that was just a sop to his friend Mr. Haugh.
"I don't see us taking it up before the spring," the
conservative lawmaker asserts. And certainly not before the 4th of
July either.
The only way to grab this bill from Mr. Sanborn to set up a
senate vote is for somebody there to marshal a discharge motion to pry
it from the committee. Rarely done and even more rarely successful.
So, who's going to Indiana and Ohio next month? Raise your hand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Come Back Kids

If you scratch your memory, you will distinctly recall that
backers of the Michigan term limit law promised that if you voted for
this thing you would be ending the careers of career politicians.
Promise made but NOT kept.
Like so many aspects of this law, there were unintended
consequences which are coming home to roast and bring unable to kill
off the career politician bred is one of them.
Twenty-nine former members of the Michigan House and Senate
are on the comeback trail hoping to reprise their previous jobs in this
If you create a vacancy in the legislature, they will
And the gang of twenty nine is from all over the state.
You've got Fran Amos, John Garfield, Laura Toy, John Pastor
from Oakland County along with Jack Brandenburg, Steve Bieda, Paul
Wojno and Frank Accavitti, Jr. from Macomb Counties. Next store in
Detroit, where winning the democratic primary assures you a victory in
November, there are all sorts of interesting folks on the comeback
Former Reps. Mo Hood III and Kenny Daniels are back in the
hunt along with one of the Lemar Lemmons family. (You can never tell
which one is running there are so many Lemmons out there.) Virgil
Smith, a former Motown House member seeks to move on up to the Senate
by climbing over the back of current Rep. George Cushingberry.
Frankly getting some experience back in the game from all
these guys is a pretty good thing unless, of course, you don't want
experienced lawmakers deciding how to spend your hard earned tax
The senate is being dismantled by term limits. Out of 38
now serving, 30 will be asked to politely get out of town on January
first. It's that vacuum of thirty seats that has sucked some former
lawmakers back into the system.
And one of the current senators, who can't serve there
anymore is running for the house.
You get the point here. If career politicians want to be
career politicians, you can pass a term limit law and you can promise
the voters you've done away with them, but just like the Tigers, they
will come back.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Perles for Governor: NOT

It was the longest running gag on the political front this year and
the media got sucked in time after time.
That robust laughter you hear over there comes from the coach.
George Perles, the football guy, played the media like a concert
violinist, which he ain't.
When he said he might run for governor, lots of reporters, who
should have known better, ran for their typewriters…er, what do they
use now?
Anyhow when the list of potential gov candidates was printed, there
was ole George. Sure he was at the bottom, but he was on the list and
that's what kept him laughing all the way past the May 11 filing
deadline line to run.
Instead of filing 15,000 petition signatures to secure a spot on
the August primary ballot, the former MSU coach was sitting on the
couch at home nursing a bad back and even more painful legs.
You see for the last three weeks or so, G.P. has been in the
hospital following back surgery to correct a pain he's had for 15 years.
"I spent too much time in the huddle," he jokes.
Doctors inserted some "screws and pins" into his back and now the
pain is gone but because he has not used his legs in weeks, he has to
use a walker to get around until he's back on his feet.
Having missed the filing deadline and never having the fire in his
gut to run in the first place, Mr. Perles was still laughing.
"We could have had a ball," he suggested and added, "But I had a
His tongue in check phantom campaign for governor was never much
more than that. He knew it, but apparently the hot shots in the media
did not.
Maybe it was wishful thinking as Perles would have been one heck of
a governor to kick around.
Return to good health soon, coach. The next race for governor is
only four years off.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Three Get It Done

It took over two months, it was messy, but it was bi-partisan
and it was a compromise in that not everybody liked it. All in all,
depending on where you sit, the legislative leaders and the governor
actually got something done on the teacher retirement issue.
The Michigan Education Association quickly called it
"ill-conceived" that will not produce any savings and the governor
called it a "milestone" on the road to eradicating part of the
structural budget deficit long term.
As with every compromise, the truth lies somewhere in between,
but House Speaker Andy Dillon, Senate GOP leader Mike Bishop and the
governor actually cooperated and got it done. On that front alone, the
earth moved at the state capitol.
Teachers are upset that they have to kick in an additional 3%
into their retirement system and the MEA says that will do nothing to
shore up the fund. It also predicts that 28,000 teachers will not sign
up to retire now.
The other side disagrees projecting a savings of $700 million for
local school districts, give or take a few million and the good news?
The projected $450 million cut in the K-12 school funding program will
be eliminated this year.
Truth be known, the democratic governor's plan was firmly embraced
by the legislative Republicans who provided the margin of victory. 40
Republicans joined with only 16 Democrats in the house to pass it and
only two democrats in the senate joined with 19 R's to adopt it there.
But the governor will not grumble about that as she actually got a
package she first outlined last February and given the intensity of the
dispute, getting it done in just over two months ain't bad for
government work.
So the sniping will continue, but the governor will sign this
thing as it becomes part of her legacy in that it is a long term
savings for state government even though she had to toss the union,
that endorsed her first eight years ago, under the bus to get there.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Guy Gets It Right

You know the drill. Politician screws-up; has to convene his
inner circle; they commence a protracted and secret dialogue to decide
what to do about it and eventually, some times days, weeks or even
months later, the admission of guilt comes.
Think Bill Clinton and Monica what's-her-name.
Say hello to David Palmer who just proved you can do this
turnaround in a matter of hours. Smart guy this Mr. Palmer.
Palmer is on a mission to win the house seat soon to be vacated
by Rep. Alma Wheelr Smith and as such, he found himself handing his
card to a capitol correspondent as the two got on the elevator just off
the house floor.
It was not out of the ordinary. A picture of the bearded Mr.
Palmer with an engaging smile on his mug and over there on the left, in
bold print his name David Palmer.
Underneath it, in smaller print, it read, "State Representative
54th District."
The reporter thought for a second, this guy's been in town for 18
months and this the first time Rep. Palmer has appeared on the radar
Something didn't compute.
Finally, this exchange as the smarty pants reporter finally
figured it out. "This state representative thing is interesting" in
that you are not the state representative.
Palmer sort of chuckled as the elevator had reached its appointed
stop and off he went into the night.
About three hours later this unsolicited email arrived.
"I've asked by graphic designer to add the word "for" on my card
so that it would now read David Palmer for state representative. Funny
thing what one tiny little word can do.
Palmer got it even though he confesses a "fairly large and
diverse group of supporters" looked at the thing and raised no
objections. But upon quick reflection he concludes, "It could be
So into the recycling bin goes 950 of the 1000 newly printed
calling cards.
Making a mistake, correcting the mistake, and not taking a life
time to do it.
Mr. Clinton and other more experienced pols, are you listening?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kwame Kard in Play

What's the old line: For every action there is a reaction.
We're not talking about nuclear fission here, but plain old, down on
the farm, hard ball politics in the race for governor.
The first "action" was the TV commercial launched by Mike Cox. It
is an attack ad, not aimed at the personality of Pete Hoekstra, but at
his policies and votes in Congress. The commercial suggests the West
Michigan Republican is a big spender and tax waster.
The "reaction" came from John Truscott who is the mouthpiece for
In the course of picking apart the Cox spot and defending his
client, Truscott played the Kwame Kard. He was not prompted by the
media to do so; it just sort of came up, but not by accident.
"The one thing that we don't have is a lot skeletons in our
closet," Truscott began the counter reaction.
By skeletons, you mean?
"Ah, the Manoogian Mansion party and ties to Kwame Kilpatrick," he
Bam! And with that you have a dramatic sea change in the race for
By playing that card, Hoekstra seeks to damage the credibility of
his opponent who investigated the alleged party at the home of the
former Detroit Mayor and found it to be an "urban legend" or not true.
The Cox campaign manager, who knew this was coming but perhaps not
right now, was ready. Stu Sandler suggested that if the credibility of
his boss was in question, so was the credibility of the Michigan State
Police and the Wayne County Prosecutor's office which interviewed
"hundreds of people and there was no criminal evidence."
So this is not a problem, he was asked?
"This isn't a problem," he suggests.
But now that Hoekstra have gone there, they apparently want
to nuture this into a problem for Mr. Cox.
Even though most of the MSM under reported this angle or ignored it
all together, the elephant in the room is now clearly visible and we
have not seen the last of it. It could get messy in there.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cue the Relatives

John Engler's Mom did it.
Mike Bouchard's daughter did it, too
And now 13 year-old Kelsey Snyder is getting in on the act.
At some point in each election year, you can count on relatives of
candidates appearing in a commercial.
It's a great way to "humanize" the candidates to make them look and
fell like they are one of us.
"Hey, I've got a Mother just like John Engler. Imagine that. So,
he must be a great guy," the voters must have said years ago when Agnes
Engler appeared in a soft and fuzzy commercial. She noted that he son
had been demonized so much by his opponent that even she had a tough
time recognizing him as her son. She reassured everyone that indeed he
was and he was not as bad as Geoffrey Fieger made him out to be.
Just recently GOP governor candidate Rick Snyder asked his daughter
to "star" in his latest tube offering and she said yes and worked with
the campaign on what to say. She's been in three theatre productions
and loves to sing so this was a no brainer for her.
First she beautifully rolled her eyes and told the camera, "My dad
is such a nerd." Then she explained that he's a businessman, not a
politician, as if having a politician for a dad would be grounds for
foster care. In case you missed the point, she repeats, "He's the only
businessman running so he's the only one that even knows what he's
Oh. Oh Kelsey. Mike Cox, Pete Hoekstra, Mike Bouchard and Tom George
are not going to like that. As your daddy's competition, they think
it's the other way around.
To be sure her comments about the opponents were not mean-spirited
but it was a jab none the less which got the point across to voters
without offending them. After all who could get upset with such a cute
13 year-old stuck with a nerd for a dad.
But let's see what Mike Bouchard's daughter has to say about that.
In fact, every candidate has a kid, so let's trot them out, too.
And the good news is, they will probably work for nothing.
As for Kelsey, let us collectively hope that she never wants to
become a career politician.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Let the smuggling end…maybe.
God only knows how many folks from Michigan sneak into Ohio or
Indiana to buy fireworks and then quietly stuff them in the trunk and
head back home?
Of course it's against the law but so is speeding. Just take a look
at I-696.
So now comes Rep. Harold Haugh (D-Roseville) with a bill to legalize
the sale of "real" fireworks, you know the ones that go BOOM-BOOM and
he may actually get this thing passed in time for this 4th of July
although some bureaucratic roadblocks may scuttle the effort.
Even so, who'da thunk it would ever happen after twelve years of
Funny thing what a financial crisis in the state can do when
legislators go hunting for new revenue.
Haugh figures when you add up the sales tax from hawking fireworks,
state coffers will increase by over three million dollars. Another
three million will go into the fund to train fire fighters which is why
the State Fire Marshall has given his seal of approval to the bill.
Ah, but nothing is ever that simple in this town.
The so-called Big Box stores, K-Mart, Meijers, and the Wal-Marts of
the world, want in on the action. They want to sell those boom-booms
in a tent in front of their stores, but Mr. Haugh says, "Not on my
watch" and the Fire Marshal agrees.
Right now those stores can sell sparkers, smoke bombs and other
wimpy "fireworks" in those tents but that's all.
Their lobbyist argues if they can't unload the really good stuff
like other folks, they won't make any money at all.
After all who wants to buy a sparkler when you can buy an M-80 down
the road?
Haugh tells them to put the stuff inside the store, but they don't
want to do that because they would have to spend too much to meet the
state fire code.
But while all sides aruge the economics of selling fireworks, what
about the public safety which is why they were banned in the first
Last time anybody checked, lots of fingers, toes and other body
parts end up on the ground each Independence Day because some body made
a mistake.
Haugh counters, "Hey, you can get hurt getting in a car."
Look for this thing to squeak through soon, but not without an
explosive debate.
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Can You Say Self-Serving?

You can understand why lawmakers are a tad nervous about voting for a
tax hike during an election year. Think self-preservation.
But why don't they have the guts to shift the issue to the local
units of government and let them take the heat for raising money for
local services?
That's what local officials around the state must be asking as it
appears state legislators are afraid to even let those officials impose
a new alcohol tax with a vote of the people.
It's so democratic. If local voters say yes to a tax, that could
be anywhere from a penny a glass to fifty cents, then all the money
would stay in that community to keep cops on the beat and fire fighters
on their trucks.
If they say no, so be it and the tax is not imposed.
Who could oppose that?
Let's start with legislative republicans. They have consumed so
much anti-tax increase kool aid that they can't even seen the
brilliance of this proposal.
They are not the ones increasing taxes; they're just letting the
citizens back home do that. Yet, and here's the kool-aid part,
anything that even hints of a tax increase is foreboden under the GOP
anti-tax dogma.
This must drive Rep. Marie Donigan nuts as the Royal Oak Democrat
quietly concedes her brain storm is going nowhere fast. Even if it got
through the house, Sen Mike Bishop and company will just sit on the
thing until it died in the senate. Which means nobody in the house will
vote for it either.
So much for that.
The sorry truth is the state lawmakers want it both ways. For
years they've been slicing and dicing state support to the local
governments and now comes a self-help bill to make up the lost revenue
and they say no to that, too.
Another classic example of good public policy being trumped by the
more important self -serving need to get relected.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

He's Like Her

Tom George is the Republican version of Alma Wheeler Smith who was
mentioned in this space earlier this week concerning her alleged
inability to win the Democratic nomination for governor.
Unfortunately for the Kalamazoo GOP senator turned candidate for
governor, Mr. George is in the same boat. He's got low name
identification, an even lower bank account and even lower chances of
Nonetheless he gave a stand up performance the other day in front
of a bunch of engineers most of whom would love a gas tax hike to
engineer and build more roads.
Yet George pulled no punches when asked his stance on same.
"Ultimately it doesn't fix the problem. I'm a no vote," he took a
chance by not waffling, spinning or ducking for cover. He got points
for that, but probably not much support.
He was also direct on the smoking ban. He favors it while one of
his opponents, Mike Bouchard, does not. "He's wrong," George told the
And issue by issue, George was clear and had a grasp of the issues.
(1) The Fair Tax. He "likes" it for its simplicity.
(2) The sales tax on services. "The door is open."
(3) A public bridge between Windsor and Detroit. Nope.
(4) Gov. Granholm? She was indecisive. By inference he will not be.
(5) The need for bi-partisan cooperation. Count him in.
Despite the "can't win tag" George assures everyone he has the
15,000 petition signatures to gain a spot on the August GOP primary
ballot and he's fixin to take on the non-politician in the field, Rick
"I don't have a bus," candidate George asserts in a not so subtle,
yet gentlemanly swipe at the rich Nerd who does. George has a bike and
don't be surprise if you see a campaign picture of his bike next to
you-know-who's lavish Snyder-mobile somewhere down the road.
The George performance was solid just like Ms. Wheeler-Smith who
is also well versed on the issues and not afraid to tell voters where
she stands. And he is like her in that they both forge ahead trying to
prove to the punditry class they are not DOA in this contest.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Compare and Contrast

It's been a long standing tradition in politics for candidates to
mix it up. The give and take often produces heat but it also produces
contrasts between the contenders which voters need to see as part of
their decision making process.
If GOP candidate Rick Snyder had his way, there would be no mixing
it up, only talking it up. Snyder has dismissed the series of TV
debates sponsored by his own party as merely an opportunity for
extended sound bites.
He much prefers town hall meetings where he is in charge and he
takess questions from the audience and not fromt any smarty pants
political correspondents who might ask him something he does not want
to answer.
Asked to comment on anyone of his four opponents and their positions
on this issue or that and
Snyder usually declines the offer with something like, "I'm here to
talk about my ideas and not attack my opponent."
Turns out Mr. S. is not the only one playing this game.
GOP governor candidate Mike Bouchard was asked to comment on the
charge that Snyder sent jobs to China. He was also asked about the
perceived problems fellow candidate Mike Cox has with the so-called
Kwame problem.
Bouchard joined Snyder on the sidelines.
"I'm not going to be drawn into a debate over other candidates," he
demurred on a recent edition of Off the Record. And then came his
reason why: "People are tired of sniping at other candidates."
He does touch a nerve and Snyder feels the nerve, too.
Voters say they don't like shout fests where the discourse gets out
of hand, but these candidates can talk about the other guy without
going there.
Drawing a contrast with your opponents is not a sin if done in a
respectful manner.
Mr. Snyder and Mr. Bouchard should try it…the voters might actually
like it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

She's Gotta Point

Alma Wheeler Smith has a beef with the political press that covers
her second bid for governor on the democratic side. She thinks the
popular wisdom that she can't win is not true.
"You guys need to stop saying she can't win and just say we've got
three competent people here who are equally unknown in the state of
Michigan," as she attempts to rewrite the story line that "she can't
She may have a point, but the polling has consistently placed her
in third place but she argues when voters find out who is she and what
she has done, she jumps 7 percent and moves closer to Speaker Andy
Dillon and Mayor Virg Benero who also contend for the D nomination this
Most agree she could be governor but she lacks the name ID and
sufficient money to really advance her cause. Is that the media's
fault or her's? She would argue the former.
But the media can counter that when she ran in 2002 for governor
she dropped out of the hunt unable to compete with the likes of Jim
Blanchard, David Bonior and Jennifer Granholm.
It seems pretty clear that Ms. Smith, for whatever reason, has
been unable to fully connect with the electorate again.
She remains confident however that she will file enough petition
signatures to stay in this race but clearly she feels the media
treatment is off the mark.
"Something here smells rotten in Denmark. I think you all have
kinda made a decision that that's what your story is," the frustrated
candidate observes.
If the democratic primary was held today, the winner would not be
Smith, Dillon or Benero. It would be undecided and with half of the
vote up for grabs, Smith can not be ruled out.
That's about as fair as you can make it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sam and Geoff

Pop quiz: Name two prominent trial lawyers in Detroit.
Chances are you came up with Sam and Geoff.
You know Sam Bernstein cause he and his family are on TV more than
some news anchors. And you know Geoffrey Fieger because, well because
he's Geoffrey Fieger.
But did you ever stop to ponder that while Sam has spent millions to
buy his name ID, Fieger rarely buys any commercials and yet he has name
parity with Mr. B.
Fieger can thank the news media for that and we just witnessed
another example of how the Geoff-ster manipulates all the free media he
"Fieger to announce on TV whether he will run for governor," the
news headlines revealed last Saturday providing a dandy freebie hype to
watch Fieger on WDIV-TV.
Recall that originally Fieger was going to make his breath-taking
announcement on Saturday, but being the sharp cookie that he is, he
realized his measly little story would be relegated to the obit section
because President Obama and the Hockey Mom were both in town.
Fieger's good copy, but not even he can trump him and her.
Consequently he wisely waited for Sunday and to no one's surprise
he opted out of the race.
Told ya so.
Weeks ago Fieger boogied over to Grand Rapids and told a local TV
guy that, "I have the papers" to file and "I'm studying them right now."
It was vintage Fieger playing the same, "I might run for
governor" card that he's been playing for years.
In deciding not to run he told Local 4 that he was so "outspoken"
that professional politicians would "make me the issue."
Come on. Is that best "excuse" he could come up with? Big bad
Fieger afraid of becoming the issue? Paa-leazze.
Bottom line: Fieger consumed thousands of dollars of free media
over three weeks, while Sam spent a like amount paying for his media
Maybe Mr. Bernstein should just buy some "Sam for Governor" signs

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bouchard Covers the Waterfront

With all due respect to the well-intentioned folks at the state
Republican Party, the Byzantine debate format they developed to show
case the five GOP candidates for governor was a flop. You don't need
20 pages of rules unless of course you want to minimize the dialogue
between candidates.
In one hour, we did not learn much about where they stand on the
Contrast that to the rapid fire grilling that Mike Bouchard recently
underwent on Michigan Public TV's Off the Record. (Personal bias
In twenty minutes Michigan voters learned that Bouchard
(1) opposes the public smoking ban
(2) opposes slot machines at race tracks
(3) opposes a constitutional convention
(4) would not enforce parts of the new federal health care law
(5) favors an emergency manager to run the Detroit schools
On top of that the Oakland County Sheriff would not endorse a second
bridge between Detroit and Windsor owned and operated by the U.S. and
Canadian governments even with a hefty contribution of $550 million
from the folks across the Detroit River.
Nope. Bouchard was four square on the side of the guy who owns the
Ambassador Bridge whose supporters have kicked in some $20,000 to the
Bouchard for Governor effort according to the Free Press.
Bouchard dissed former Governors John Engler, Jim Blanchard, and
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson who favor the public span.
"They're wrong," he told the OTR panel.
And he took at a swipe at the current governor for being
'disingenuous" for fighting the private option.
Bouchard took the rapid fire questions with ease and noted that he
favors a format where there are no rules.
Are you listening state GOP big wigs?