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, April 26, 2010

That's A No-No

     Anybody remember the Jim Croce tune when he told everyone what not to do?  Namely, "You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind and you don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger" and you should add to the list, you don't lobby for a seat on the U.S., Supreme Court either.
     But there was Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on nationwide TV doing just that.
     Maybe she didn't do it as part of a calculated move to influence the president, but it sure felt like it.
     Heretofore the governor has gingerly and correctly so, tip toed around the sensitive issue.  The reason no one blurts out, "I want this appointment" is that it puts the president in an awkward spot.  The president wants to feel free about making the choice and if one of the contenders tries to pressure the boss, it can create the impression that maybe he gave in to that pressure rather than making a decision based on the merits of the nominee's resume.. 
     Yes, that sounds far-fetched but it is part of the mix and this governor has acknowledged that as recent as last week when she said it was up to Mr. Obama to comment on the process, not her.  "I'm not going to get into that,"she told the capitol press corps here.
     But then on CNN, she told Candy Crowley, in effect, that her lack of time on the bench as a judge was actually a plus.
     "I think it's a very wise move to consider experience that isn't just from the judiciary," the non-judge offered adding, "People who have applied the laws and seen their impact...I think that's important."
      If that is not tooting her own horn, what the heck is?
      You can sift these comments two ways.  Maybe she knows she is on the short-short list and was encouraged by the White House to speak out or maybe she knows she is not going to get it and just made a hail Mary pass as an 11th hour attempt to convince the President et .al. to change their minds.
      We may never know, but it was a curious move by a governor who is usually very good about following the correct political protocol.  She maybe didn't tug on the President's cape but she was certainly holding onto it very hard.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Who Invited "Brewer?"

Who invited Mark Brewer to participate in the recent GOP for
governor debate? That was the pointed question blurted out by one of
the Republican audience members after Mike Cox used the "China" issue
against one of his opponents.
Cox of course is a GOP candidate for governor and he did pick up
where Brewer left off on his attacks on Rick Synder. Ever since the
Ann Arbor business guy entered the race, Brewer has been a one man
wrecking crew hoping to undercut Snyder's candidacy by claiming he sent
jobs to China when he ran the Gateway company.
Brewer used it successfully on former GOP candidate Dick DeVos in
2006 and republicans are still bitter about that.
Never mind that Mr. Snyder has consistently denied the charge.
Brewer has not given up and now that Cox has taken up the same line of
attack, Brewer and his D buddies must be chuckling.
Rest assured that if Snyder somehow secures the nomination, it's a
sure bet that Cox's words will be used by the democrats against Snyder.
That did not seem to bother Mr. Cox who brought up the issue on
his own in an apparent calculated roll of the dice to cut into Synder's
voter base.
But you have to wonder how the China thing works, if at all, with
GOP voters?
Recall that when Brewer used it against DeVos it was in a general
election where all sorts of voters heard it including those who were
angry about outsourcing in general.
Cox is using the issue in a GOP primary where many of the voters
may actually be sympathetic to job creation efforts in China and
elsewhere. They may not like it but they may understand why some
business guy might want to set up shop in the Communist country.
There were many business leaders in the audience such as Rick
Studley who runs the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He was not a happy
camper when Brewer attacked DeVos.
Wonder what he thought when he heard a Republican do the same
thing to another Republican the other night?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

So...Who Won?

You can count on it. Anytime a political journalist covers a
candidate debate, the first question out of the box is, of course, who
Fact of the matter is it doesn't matter how the reporter scores
the thing; the real winners and losers are picked at home by the
viewers, readers and listeners. And while that sounds like a cope out,
it's true.
If for example your forte is a fighter, scrapper, and somebody
who is willing to take on an opponent, Attorney General Mike Cox was
your winner as he was the only one on the stage taking the fight to the
others. It was a risky move but being down in the polls, why not give
it a shot?
Cox sparred at first with front runner Congressman Pete Hoekstra
over federal bail outs but that paled in comparison to the two rounds
he went with the Nerd, Rick Synder.
Cox, who reminded the audience several times that he was a former
Marine, once said it was a Marine's job to protect nerds. He did no
protecting in Wednesday nights first TV debate with all five GOP
Sgt. Cox was not asked by the panel to discuss sending jobs to
China, but he went there anywhere as he accused business guy Rick
Snyder of questionable business stock trading practices and alleged
outsourcing to foreign lands.
Snyder denied it, as he has done in the past, and after the
debate he tried to turn the jab into a counter-punch as he dismissed
Cox's performance as a typical "career politician" doing what c.p.'s do
i.e. attack and distort. Cox handed that to him on a silver platter.
Therefore if you favor the underdog when he is being whacked,
Synder turned out to be the winner.
Senator Tom George of Kalamazoo showed a little passion of his
own as he characterized his opponents as a sheriff, Mike Bouchard, the
business guy, Snyder, a Congressman Peter Hoekstra and then "another
attorney general" referencing the fact that the current governor was an
attorney general just like Cox.
It was a good line but Bouchard managed to one-up George by
noting that in the old days of John Wayne it was the sheriff who went
in to clean things up.
For everybody under 30, they went John who?
As for Mr. Hoekstra, he did not bring his "A" game to the table.
The quintet will go at it again down the road.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sure Thing

If you make this bet, make sure you make it with a person who is
completely naïve when it comes to Michigan politics and given the
general awareness of the citizenry these days, that person won't be
hard to find.
Offer them this: You predict that whomever wins the democratic
nomination for governor, that person will pick an African-American for
his or her running mate.
This is such a sure bet you can even give them 100 to one odds if
it strikes your fancy. (However, as they say, all bets are off if Rep.
Alma Wheeler Smith somehow nails the nomination. She is
All this was set into motion last weekend when state democrats
decided for the first time to select nominees for Secretary of State
and State Attorney General.
Heretofore those office selections were made after the nominee for
governor was selected which gave that person the chance to shape the
ticket in his or her own liking. And one of the major factors in
rounding out the ticket was picking a person or persons of color for
the ticket.
Nowhere is that written in stone, but if you've followed Michigan
Democratic politics for any length of time, you know that's just the
way it is and history is replete with candidates who got on the ticket
not necessarily because they were the best qualified.
But those days of gender and racial balancing are looooong gone as
ole Ernie is fond of saying. Now whomever the governor nominee is, that
person will have Jocelyn Benson for SOS and David Leyton for A.G.
Since both of them are Caucasian, this is why the bet you will offer
is such a sure fire winner i.e. there will be a Black running mate on
the ticket.
And in segments of the party that private discussion has already
began. You can bet on that, too.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Labor Vs.Sam

      Based on the published reports coming out of Motown this week,a large segment of organized labor got what it wanted:  David Leyton got the nomination for state Attorney General,but it wasn't pretty. He beat Richard Bernstein,the son of Sam Bernstein by less than 170 votes.
     Proving that the labor movement in this state is not unified, the Teamsters and Michigan Education Association went with Bernstein while the UAW and AFL-CIO worked the trenches for the Genesee County Prosecutor.
     The subtext of the battle at the mini-state convention in Detroit over the weekend was whether Daddy Sam could somehow "buy" the nomination for his son who had passion, a strong track record of helping the truly needy, but not enough votes to nail down the nomination.
     Leyton played up his crime-fighter image and now goes on to take on the likely GOP nominee Bill Schuette who wasted little time branding Leyton as the mouthpiece for labor while Leyton fired back that Schuette was fronting for the insurance industry and big business.  (Oakland County Sen. Mike Bishop is also running for the GOP nomination.)
     Back to the Leyton vs.Bernstein showdown: It's unclear if foot in mouth disease doomed R.B.  Recall  Bernstein volunteered that many in his party where "fed-up" with the way the UAW tossed its weight around in the Democratic Party.  It was a dandy quote that they noticed over at Solidarity House.
    Even though Bernstein recanted his comments, the damage was already done.  When you lose by 163 votes the statement might have cost him the least the UAW hopes other would be defectors
get that message.

Friday, April 16, 2010


The envelope please.
The winner in the Ticking Time Bomb category is: (Drum roll)
Virg Bernero.
Even the democratic candidate for governor concedes this is a
potential problem as he tries to move across the street from Lansing
City Hall to the office on the second floor of the state capitol.
The candidate with the hot rhetoric has conceded that his greatest
asset and liability is his mouth. Which is why some democrats are
worried that it is only a matter of time before that time bomb goes off
taking the Bernero candidacy along with it.
Think Howard Dean.
The former democratic candidate for governor single handedly
deep-sixed his own effort with the "He-must-be-crazy" speech he gave
the night he lost the Iowa presidential caucus. Surely your remember
the way he rattled off all those states he was going to win in the
future with his voice screeching higher and higher with each one.
Mr. Bernero remembers.
In fact he remembers it so much that in a closed door skull session
with 30 of his would-be supporters, he brought up the subject himself.
"I know there are those out there who believe I will have a Howard
Dean moment," he advised the group and then promised it would never
Promise made but a long way to go to keep it.
Part of Bernero's charm is that he sometimes opens his mouth before
he engages his brain. It makes for great copy, but can sometimes be
bad politics as inevitability someone will be offended. The trick is
to limit the number of "some ones" who are offended.
But Bernero says, this is me. He says he will be himself and will
be honest with folks and if some are put off, so be it.
He's done it before and survived but this time the stakes are even
higher. Now any slip of the lip will not be confined to the confines of
the capitol city. With the media monitoring his every word, if the
time bomb goes off now, the entire state will hear the ca-BOOM!
And Virg Dean…err Bernero knows it.

Quote Machine Gets A Workout

It was a political correspondent's dream come true: 1200 angry
protestors upset with the President, the governor, the government, and,
of course, the media.
Welcome to the Tea Party demonstration on the capitol law on Tax Day
It was a sound bite heaven ripe for the pickin'.
"It's called "We the People, not "We the Congress," argued Gary
Swartz from Lapeer County's Hadley Township as he bemoaned Congress
adopting health care reform when "75% of the people didn't want it."
But Gary's comments were chicken feed compared to a crusty former
Marine from Haslett Jake Eckenrode.
He was riding President Obama for "systematically and actually
destroying the country." Asked why a president would want to do that
to his own country, Jake opined there were folks "pulling his string"
including members of the president's inner circle made up of
"socialists, Marxists, and some of them are even avowed communists and
that is not what the United States is all about."
And there is still more.
Cheryl Trombly from Mt. Pleasant walked right up to a reporter with
a TV camera in tow wanting him to know that "I'm not here to spit on
anybody." She had it in for the media and the manner in which it was
supposedly portraying the Tea Party Movement.
Quick, turn the camera on.
"I'm not a racists. I'm not here to provoke any riots. I do have a
gun at home but I didn't bring it with me today."
How come?
"We're here for positive results," she asserted.
And then there was Barrett Colovas who sheepishly whispered in the
same reporter's ear, "I'm actually an Obama supporter.'
Keep the camera rolling.
Referring to those who surrounded him, he noted, "They don't want
to open their minds to maybe there are some better ideas."
So maybe there are some closed minds here?
"I think so.'
And finally this. David Holtz who runs a liberal blog described
the protest crowd thusly, "A cranky, angry, pissed-off crowd."
'Nuf said.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

D's Stiff Their Governor

Your journalistic instincts kick in when the folks you cover
suddenly change their behavior.
Such was the case this week with senate democrats. Since they are
in the minority and don't get much attention they are normally very
willing to do on camera interviews. Hey, it beats being ignored.
So when all of the democrats, minus one, failed to support their
governor's retirement package for 39,000 teachers and 9,000 state
government employees, that was news. Stiffing their own governor was a
good little story which is why most of those democrats dove for the
high grass and stayed there.
Take the senate democratic leader. Mike Prusi is a likeable chap
but when he was asked to appear on camera, he uncharacteristically
ducked out the back door in a hasty retreat to his office.
Went up to Sen. Tupac Hunter. At least he had the courtesy to say
no to the reporter's face before he followed Prusi out the door.
Look it. The democrats were caught in a cross fire. The governor
wanted the bill and the Michigan Education Association did not. The
governor is leaving town in six months and the MEA will be around
forever. You can figure out why the D's didn't' do the governor's
Shouldn't't you give one up for the Gipper, Sen. Irma Clark-Coleman
was asked after she did agree to chat.
"Normally I would," she suggested.
So this is not a normal vote?
"It is not a normal vote," she confirmed.
She was worried about luring away 39,000 seasoned teachers from the
classroom at a time when, in her town of Detroit, they are trying to
reform the school system.
"These young teachers (who would replace the old ones) come in and
they are wonderful and full of energy and all. But you gotta know how
to teach," Clark correctly asserts.
Senate Democrats will get another chance to vote on this stuff as
the House Democrats, who now have the package, are likely to rewrite it
more to the MEA's liking.
For now the Gov. Gipper had to settle for a bill that passed with
overwhelming GOP senate support which is also news since she and they
seldom agree on anything.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Johnny Comes Marching Home

Chill out Michigan. John Engler may be buying a luxurious home in
Michigan but it does not mean he's itching to get his fingers back in
Michigan politics.
By now you've probably heard the speculation that surfaced at the
beginning of the year turned out to be spot on even though close
friends of the former governor and Mrs. denied the rumors.
Turns out, the Englers were looking and did purchase a new manse is
on a small lake just outside of Lansing which listed for a cool
$650,000 and boasts 4,200 square feet including four bedrooms, remember
there are three teenagers in the family and four bathrooms. If Mr.
Engler is lucky, as the only guy in the joint, he may actually get to
use one…if he is extra nice.
Anyway in this very political town the "he's coming back to run for
office" meter has been off the charts. Why else would he buy a house
the soothsayers keep asking?
Maybe he just wanted to have one in his home state.
Aw. That's no fun. He must be itching to take on Debbie Stabenow
for the U.S. Senate in 2012. What, and take a pay cut.
What's left of the Engler cabal in town is down playing all the
wild speculation.
He won't run confides long time Engler groupie and noted barrister
Richard McLellan.
Former Engler media mouthpiece John Truscott goes, "Ditto."
What would you expect them to say?
"Oh sure. John wants to serve in the senate and is coming home to
run for that." When were the Engler folks that forth coming on anything
like that? Answer never.
The one person who has not chimed in is Michelle Engler and the
popular wisdom has it that she has had it with elective politics…for
her hubby.
But what about a Michelle vs. Debbie mud wrestling match in two
After all she is the one who picked out the new digs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fwd: Term Limit Opening Salvo

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tue, Apr 13, 2010 9:44 am
Subject: Fwd: Term Limit Opening Salvo

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Mon, Apr 12, 2010 9:52 pm
Subject: Term Limit Opening Salvo

Where there is smoke, you will find the U.S. Term Limits folks trying to extinguish it before it turns into a fire. 
  With the chatter in Lansing growing louder by the week that lawmakers may actually get up enough guts to change the state's term limit law, the pro-term limit lobby has launched an Internet ad campaign to nip this thing in the bud. 
  Using ominous music underneath an announcer who berates lawmakers for trying to fatten their own pockets while the state goes to you-know-where in a hand basket, the commercial suggests that lawmakers should be working on the jobless rate, the housing foreclosure crisis and the deficit instead of fiddling around with the proposed T.L. change. 
  It's this type of preemptive strike that was anticipated and reflects that the nation group is a might worried about what might happen here. If not, they would not be wasting their time on an anti-campaign at this juncture. 
  Lots of folks in this town from former Gov. John Engler on down have seen the errors of their original support for kicking lawmakers out of office before they can season into career politicians. 
  Yet, well over half of Michigan residents think Engler and company are just plain nuts to monkey with the voter approved amendment from 1992. 
  And there in lies the challenge for those who want to change the law. Even if a house committee eventually takes action on this thing, it would take upwards of $5 million or more to turn public opinion around and so far no one has raised their hand to volunteer that much moola. 
  There is one strategy however that might turn the tide and that is linking a change in term limits to a part-time legislature which is equally as popular with Mr. and Mrs. Average Voter. 
  If that thing gets legs, the U.S. Term Limit folks may need more than a cheap Internet ad to win that battle. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bart for Gov

     Bart Stupak for Governor.
     Hold it.  Didn't the Upper Peninsula Congressman just announce his retirement?
     He sure did.
     And didn't he say he was tired of all that time he spent on the road away from his family? 
     Right again.
     So what's with this Stupak for Governor stuff?     If it has not happened yet, it most certainly will.  Some Democrat will ask Stupak to at least consider getting into the field which many Democrats feel is about as lackluster as can be.  To put it gently, the Angriest Mayor in American, the GOP-leaning Democratic House Speaker and the competent, yet grossly under funded Representative from Ann Arbor are not doing too well against the GOP field and Stupak might do better.
     It's not as if Stupak has never thought about it.  Last year on Mackinac Island his name was in the mix until he unmixed it and each cycle prior to that his name always appeared on the short list of would-be gov.contenders.
     Frankly he'd be a good candidate, but he did make it pretty clear the other day that he was ready for a change to "try something new" as he told his friends and supporters at his withdrawal news conference in Marquette.
     The grind of getting home from Washington on Thursday night at one a.m. and leaving five hours later to traverse his 31 county district had taken its toll he reflected and maybe, he thought out loud, it might be time to grab a rocker on his front porch and "watch the sailboats go by."  So why would he trade a 31 county assignment for an 83 county drill if he ran for governor?    Yet he is a young man, has a proven track record and has appeal to the all important independent voters. And despite his pro-life voting record, you can not automatically count him out just like you can't dismiss pro-life Speaker Andy Dillon either     If you read the tea leaves, Stupak would have to do a 180 by May 11th to get in the race and that, at this read, seems pretty far-fetched.  But then John Cherry dropping out of the race for governor was equally as far-fetched.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

There He Goes Again

There he goes again. You gotta hand it to Geoffrey Fieger. He
knows how to play the news media like a Stradivarius and we get
suckered in every time.
"Fieger May Run for Governor" the headlines screamed in a bad
case of deja vu all over again.
Right, and Tennessee will win the NCAA basketball championship!
Fieger can go months without saying squat and then he shows up
out of nowhere doing a TV show over in Grand Rapids and he dangles this
dandy in front of buddy Rick Albin.
"I've…got the documents. I'm examining the documents to run," he
breathlessly manipulated the media on the same story he's been
manipulating since they invented news print.
Take this to the bank sports fans: Geoffy-poo is not running for
governor just like he didn't run for mayor of Detroit, despite
speculation that he might, and just like he might run for Pope only he
is not Catholic.
Review what he said, "I've…got the documents."
Wow. Stop the presses. He's got the documents.
Your dog could have the documents and could even been studying
them, before he eats them, and he could be running for governor, too.
So why do we get roped into this each and every time? Because,
and Mr. Fieger knows this, he is good copy.
Fierger is to political correspondents what crack is to a
drugy…you just can't put it down once you start using it and the news
media has been using Fieger for years and vice versa.
Don't be mislead, the capitol press corps would love to have
him in the governor's office. He'd be a hoot to cover and would
amount to the full employment bill for political writers if he was
running his mouth and the state at the same tim
But alas boys and girls, Fieger can exam all he wants and when
the filing deadline of May 11th rolls around the papers will read:
Fierger Won't Run for Governor.
But stick this in your bonnet. If Attorney General Mike Cox
gets the GOP nomination for governor, watch Fieger turn into a one-man
wrecking crew to defeat his "Bud" Mr. Cox. That one you can print and