One thing that never ceases to amaze and frustrate me me is the lack of attention that most people pay to local politics. Most of us political junkies can and do pay attention to the state and local races, but we are few and far between, I think. Ask just about anybody what they think about the candidates running for their local seats and you will find most of them can't even name a single candidate.
But that's nothing new, and that's why campaigning is as much art as it science. A candidate can have the most popular message in the universe, but the best person will not win if the Regular Joe voter does not recognize the name when he's in that booth.
The Michigan primaries are Tuesday, and RightMI's blog has a pretty good synopsis of them. Personally, I think it will take a miracle for the Democrats to win the majority back. The economy in Michigan still isn't what I would describe as recovered, but despite my deep philosophical differences with Governor Snyder and his merry band of moderates, they have at least managed to dramatically slow the bleeding.
(All things considered, Michigan should be in a position to rebuild the manufacturing base. We have a plethora of available workers, and real estate is cheap. The seemingly untouchable stranglehold of union wages was even dealt a blow when Snyder's team got the Right to Work legislation passed in both houses. Next on their list of changes is the repeal of the Personal Property Tax, which oddly enough, is a tax on business property that never goes away. Want to run a factory? Every piece of machinery and equipment you buy will be taxed every single year into perpetuity if you decide locate in Michigan. )
Nobody is challenging Snyder for the GOP nomination, but a local TEA Party figure is taking on Calley for the Lt Governor position, although that candidate is picked at the GOP convention, not the ballot box. I know and like the challenger, Wes Nakagiri, but I do not think his campaign has picked up much traction. Wes is a numbers guy, and I would very much like to see him run for office and win. I just don't think this was the right battle to pick. While I am a staunch fiscal conservative, Michigan is a blue state, although it is possible that it might be purple if the economic recovery is allowed to continue. I'd like nothing more than to see a tough fiscal conservative in Lansing, but I'm just not sure the state as a whole is ready for that. Baby steps forward are better than giant steps backward.
The local race I am most interested in is in the 47th District, which is the heavily red Livingston County. Cindy Denby is being term limited out, and this race is a 3 way toss up. (Disclaimer: I am a volunteer with the Phil Campbell campaign.) Wendy Day is a former member of the Howell School Board. She gained some attention when the locals discovered that her kids were not in the public school system - she was home schooling them. I was fine with that, but the following year she she seemed to bow to the pressure and enrolled her kids. She served a single term. She has the support of Americans For Prosperity, who have been sending out an average of two mailers a week on her behalf lately.
Hank Vaupel is a veterinarian and the township supervisor. He has the support of Joe Hune, the state senator in the district, as well as the outgoing Rep. Denby. Their PACs and supporters have donated substantially to him, and as a result, almost all the radio ads I hear are for him.
The other contender in the race is Phil Campbell. I met Phil during the 2007 season, which is when I first become addicted to politics. After the Tea Party uprising against Obamacare, Phil decided to stick his toe in the water and run for mayor in 2011. He ended up beating a seemingly entrenched incumbent, and easily won reelection in 2013. During those campaigns, Phil developed a ground team that any other GOP candidate would love to have, and they are out in force for this race.
Of the three candidates, Phil is by far my choice. Day doesn't have the legislative experience, and Vaupel is just too moderate. After working with Phil, I know him to be organized, efficient, intelligent, persuasive and most importantly, conservative.
Other areas in Michigan have interesting primaries. Although the media keeps telling us that the TEA Party is dead, there are a number of close primary races developing because of GOP support of Democrat initiatives, such as Common Core, Obama's Medicaid expansion, and a huge amount of money spent on the recent Detroit bailout. Most of those incumbents will win, thanks largely to the support of the cronyism of the Chamber of Commerce.
And speaking of cronyism, incumbent Kerry Bentivolio is being challenged by the establishment. Admittedly, Bentivolio disappointed me when one of his first votes was to raise the debt ceiling immediately after running on a campaign of fiscal conservatism. Bentivolio isn't my ideal Republican, but Trott is a nightmare for those of us who actually want less spending and smaller federal government. If the establishment wanted to convince the TEA Party to vote for Bentivolio, running Trott is the way to do it.
While there are a lot more Republican vs conservatives races all over the state this primary season, those are the races I'll be watching the closest. I honestly think the primaries are going to be more exciting than the general. Even U. S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land doesn't seem to be generating any enthusiasm. It's almost a sin that nobody else decided to challenge her for the nomination. Of course, that means she won't have to burn through a lot of cash early, but it is going to take more than money to beat Gary Peters, the Democrat nominee apparent.
With Land, it almost seems that the establishment sought a good solid candidate, but they chose one without a personality and adopted that tired old campaign strategy that never wins, which is simply a campaign slogan that might as well be "Hey! She isn't a Democrat!" Her legislative record is non-existent - she was previously elected to an administrative position in the state, so it's impossible to examine her actual conservative credentials. But she is endorsed by both Rand Paul, so I suppose I'll be pulling the lever for her come November.
So, what say you? Any races in Michigan have your attention? Tell us in the comments!
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