What if 2016 Isn’t a Wave Election?

By Susan J. Demas and Chad Selweski

The conventional wisdom is that Michigan –– and the country –– have been see-sawing between wave elections since 2006.

As IMP has pointed out, one possible exception is 2014 (Vol. XV, No. 4). Republicans had a darn good year –– they won the governorship, swept all state offices, held contested U.S. House seats and padded their majorities in the state House and state Senate. But Democrat Gary Peters took the all-important open U.S. Senate seat (by a much wider margin than Gov. Rick Snyder was re-elected). And the Dems won seven out of eight education boards at the bottom of the ballot (which many observers say sparked the failed Republican effort to scrap straight-ticket voting).

But let’s consider the idea that 2016 won’t be a Democratic blowout –– which, at this point, is the best-case scenario for Republicans.

Gone is the bluster about Donald Trump turning Michigan red. All recent polls show Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead. FiveThirtyEight rates Clinton as having a 93% chance of winning the state.

The first debate, “Access Hollywood” tape and string of Trump sexual assault accusers has left GOP strategists agog. Now they’re anxiously looking down-ticket and it’s every candidate for him/herself.

The best-case scenario for Republicans is that 2016 proves to be a volatile and uneven year. Trump has done disproportionately well in Macomb Co. and northern Michigan in polling thus far.

Ironically, straight-ticket voting could save Republicans down-ballot there --- even Republican Steve Marino in the open HD-24. He’s the former lobbyist whose trash-talking of GOP leaders was caught on tape, again and again and again.

And there’s hope that there could be ticket-splitting in all the right areas. One theory is that the personal attacks between Trump and Clinton --- and a campaign nearly devoid of policy discussions --- still makes it the the year of “negative partisanship,” when the majority of voters cast a ballot against --- not for --- a presidential candidate.

So suburban Kalamazoo Co. female voters might cast a ballot for Clinton and then switch to some of their favored Republicans running in down-ballot offices.

There’s always a flip side --- and that could help Dems in other areas. Working-class white men in the upper Lower Peninsula might plunk down their vote for Trump, but then veer off to vote for pro-labor, anti-trade Democrats.

But that’s still preferable to a Democratic blowout up and down the ballot.

For a deep dive into Election 2016 dynamics and congressional races, subscribe to IMP today!

Candice Miller Talks Flint, Gov. Snyder and No Women Running to Replace Her in Congress

By Susan J. Demas

Retiring U.S. Rep. Candice Miller’s exclusive interview in subscription-only IMP (Vol. XV, No. 42) is not to be missed.

The Harrison Twp. Republican gave an inside look into her surprise bid for Macomb Public Works Commissioner, challenging long-time Democratic incumbent Anthony Marrocco. She also talked about her close ally, Democratic County Executive Mark Hackel, and whether a 2018 gubernatorial “Unity Ticket” was possible. And Miller wasn’t shy in her criticism of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump –– but discussed why she’s getting behind him.

As a bonus, here’s a bit more of Miller’s interview, in which she talks about the Flint water crisis and how Gov. Rick Snyder has handled it –– as well as some background on the controversial KWA pipeline. Miller also frankly addresses the challenges for women running for office and gives a humorous take on the media’s obsession with how female politicians look.

Here are excerpts:

IMP: You have been the only female committee chair in the House [of the Administration Committee for two terms, 2013-17]. Are somewhat disappointed that the field for your congressional seat is all male?

Miller: Yes. [Laughs]. I mean, I’m a big supporter of women getting involved at every level ––politics, professionally, the private sector, what have you. Certainly in politics, I believe we need more women on both sides –– certainly on my side. We do bring a different perspective. And I thought [state Rep.] Andrea LaFontaine (R-Memphis) would have been a very good candidate. But she’s getting married; she’s moving out of the district. And this is what happens in women’s lives. It’s still a part of it, right? Or all of a sudden, you have small children; you’re not willing to be in Washington three days a week. Some of the women that do that and have small children –– honestly, I do not understand how they do it. God love ‘em. I don’t know how it all works. Or if you have elderly parents, taking care of them. Or whatever it is. It’s still part of it.

And I also think it’s more difficult for women to raise money. For whatever reason –– we all talk about it –– we have no trouble asking someone for $1,000 to give to the local hospital or something like that, right? But will you give me $1,000 to run for Public Works? I mean, that is a difficult thing for women to do. It’s just more difficult. I don’t really know why. But that also is a hinderance to some women running. I talk to some women who are thinking of running. And I say, ‘You should just get a bunch of your women friends that you should start with. And you should say, ‘Look, what does it cost for a new outfit for you? Is it $50? $100? Instead of that, would you be willing to invest in good government, in my candidacy?’’ And you got your start here, right?

IMP: You recently told the Detroit Free Press’ Carol Cain that you’re ‘not into clothes and hair’ even though the media are preoccupied with female politicians’ appearances. What advice would you give women looking to run for public office on this front?

Rick Pluta

Rick Pluta

Miller: [Laughs]. Just know that that’s part of it, right –– that that’s part of our culture. Look, whether you’re a newspaper reporter like you are or Carol Cain or Candice Miller, let’s face it. When you go on Off the Record, I’m sure they’re not looking at [Michigan Radio Network Bureau Chief] Rick Pluta’s hairdo [to see] how he’s doing. It is what it is. It’s universal. So there’s no use complaining about that. I think you can overdo it a bit or just say, ‘Well, whatever.’ I mean, I’m 62 years old. Guess what? I have a double chin. Oh, well. [Laughs]. I always say, ‘’Slightly’ is the operative word.’ Whatever, I’m healthy. I feel good. And I’m blessed.

IMP: You’ve cited the Flint water crisis as one reason why you’re running for Public Works Commissioner. Do you think that Gov. Rick Snyder has been treated unfairly over this issue? Has it been a bit of overkill?

Miller: Yes, I think so. And yes, that is one reason why I ran for Public Works. I have to tell you, I think that is one of the most terrible things –– about the worst things I have seen in Michigan since I’ve been in office. I mean, there was one woman outside the [U.S. House] hearing room –– she came to Washington, African-American woman and she said to me cause they were also saying that some of these miscarriages might have been … now I don’t know; I’m not a doctor. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But she said, ‘I miscarried twins. I miscarried twins. And my two children that are alive, they both tested positive for lead poisoning.’ Now think about that for a moment. It is just beyond terrible. So it’s really, really bad what happened.

That being said, I think the governor because of the kind of person he is –– not because of his professional background as a CEO –– immediately stepped up and said, ‘That’s my responsibility. That’s on my watch and I take full responsibility.’ The truth is, there was enough blame to go around. But by the time I think everybody said, ‘Hey, what about the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]? Look at this. What about the [Flint] City Council?’

And quite frankly, [Genesee] County pushing that KWA [Karegnondi Water Authority]. What the heck was that all about? That is ridiculous. I remember those guys coming into my office asking me for earmarks when they were going to start that. And I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. You’re not getting earmarks for that. Yes, you might have some corruption in the Detroit Water System, but there’s never been a question about the [water] quality. So build me a brand-new line for that kind of money? Are you out of your mind?’ And they came back twice; they asked me a number of times. I told them, ‘Don’t come back here. I’m never going to help you do that. We shouldn’t be building a new line.’

Anyway, there’s lots of blame to go around. That was way before Gov. Snyder even thought about running for governor. So I it’s just as I say. It’s a terrible thing that happened there. But I do think, if there’s any silver lining there –– and it’s difficult to find any silver lining there –– it’s that people are aware that we need to invest in underground infrastructure. You know, you invest in the over-ground. Because when you run over a pothole –– guess what? –– you feel it. But you don’t know what’s underground. But now we see that can definitely impact our quality of life. And that is here in Macomb County, like everywhere else in this country.

And I talk to you about all these sewer overflows. Because we have an inadequate underground system. What happens is, the heavy rains come; we just dump it over. And gosh, it’s not rocket scientry. It can be fixed. But I’m not saying it will be without resources. So I’m hopeful that some of the experiences I’ve had, whether it’s at the state level –– certainly at the federal level –– I do sort of understand where some of these resources are at. And again, although I can’t guarantee anything with the budget, with stuff, I do think people are going to be spending more money on infrastructure. And we want to make sure it’s invested properly.

IMP: What are you most proud of accomplishing in Congress?

Miller: I’ve done a lot of work on the Great Lakes and I feel good about all kinds of things that have happened there. I feel good about some of my work on [the] Homeland Security [Committee]. We have come a long way with a number of different issues to protect our citizens. I sit on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; I’m the only Michigan member. And so people who say I don’t have any experience in infrastructure –– guess what? I do have a little experience on all of these issues, the State Revolving Fund, pipeline issues –– all of these things come through our committee.

And different highway builds that we’ve had. For instance, when I first got to Congress, Michigan was a donor state. Actually I forget what it was –– either 82 or 86 cents on the dollar we got returned. And now, we’re no longer a donor state. Which translates to hundreds of millions of dollars to Michigan for infrastructure investment. So a number of those things, I think, have been very positive.

A Brief History of Judicial Election Nastiness in Michigan

n the latest subscription-only edition of IMP (Vol. XV, No. 41), we’ve started to break down competitive judicial races on the Aug. 2 ballot, as only we know how.

That’s right. You’ll get the inside scoop on three-dozen contested Court of Appeals, District, Circuit and Probate judgeships all across Michigan. And we’ll also go deep into the battle for two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court.

Dan Kildee on Donald Trump, Bill Schuette and What Has To Happen Next in Flint

You’re not going to want to miss the latest subscription-only edition of IMP, which features our exclusive interview with U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) talking at length about weighing a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

Here’s a taste of Kildee’s candor, as he gives his take on the Flint water crisis and whether Donald Trump can win Michigan this year. And if you want a preview of what his gubernatorial campaign against Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette could look like, check out Kildee’s thoughts about LGBT and women’s rights

Kathy Hoekstra: On the Flint Water Crisis, Snyder Should Take a Page from Bush After 9/11

Even though it’s clear that breakdowns at all levels of government led to the Flint water situation, Gov. Rick Snyder is undeniably the sole face of the problem.

He may not like it. He may not deserve it. He certainly never asked for it. But he will not escape it. So Snyder needs to stop trying and do something he should have been doing all along –– embrace it. I think the governor really does want to help the people of Flint, but he has to show it.

Matt Grossmann Talks Taking over from Doug Roberts at MSU

Last year, IMP sat down with former state Treasurer Doug Roberts as he prepared to leave his job leading Michigan State University’s acclaimed Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR), which also is home to Michigan’s Political Leadership Program (MPLP). We even ran some of the interview in a bonus story online.

Candice Miller to Take on the ‘Godfather’ of Macomb County Politics

In a surprise move today, retiring U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp.) set the stage for possibly one of the fiercest political battles in recent Macomb County history when she announced that she will challenge county Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco –– the “godfather” of Macomb politics –– this fall.

Jake Davison: Yoopers, Trolls and Politicos, Oh My: The Race for the Open MI-1

Twenty-five thousand square miles. Thirty-one-and-a-half counties. Larger than West Virginia. Five television media markets (Traverse City-Cadillac; Marquette; Alpena; Green Bay, Wis.; and even Duluth, Minn.). Two time zones.

That’s Michigan’s 1st Congressional District. In fact, it take as long to drive to Tennessee from Mason County in the district’s southwest corner as it does to reach Gogebic in the northwest pocket.

Former Congressman Mike Rogers On Radio, Life After Congress

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Howell) looks tanned and rested since leaving office in January.

Last month, the former House Intelligence Committee chair headlined the Michigan Association of Broadcasters’ conference in Bellaire. While pitching his new radio show, “Something to Think About,” which he said airs on more than 160 stations nationwide, Rogers reiterated that he feels it’s a “bigger platform” than being in Congress.

IMP's 2014 Election Predictions

Who will be Michigan's next governor? Who will be our next U.S. Senator? And which party will control the state House?

IMP turned to top politicos Greg McNeilly, Saul Anuzis, Kelly Rossman-McKinney and Mark Grebner for answers. And as a special bonus, IMP also interviewed  Bill Ballenger, just like the old days. But now we've learned how to post it on the internets.

McKenzie Tells IMP He's Running for MI-11, Whether Benson Does or Not

Counterterrorism expert Bobby McKenzie tells Inside Michigan Politics today he's running for Michigan's 11th Congressional District as a Democrat, whether former Secretary of State nominee Jocelyn Benson does or not.

"To be honest, I'm focused on myself and my campaign and doing what's best for my family, my community," said McKenzie, 39, of Canton. "I've been working on this for many months, and I've reached out to many folks. ... I've made an informed decision, and this was not done lightly."