Debbie Stabenow, Democrats, John Dingell, Michigan Democrats — September 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Convention Mania – Michigan Democrats are fired up and ready to GO!


I’ll just sleep in mid-November…

Anne and I arrived home from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night. The next morning I was on the road at 6:30 a.m. to the Michigan Democratic Party’s State Convention which took place over two days this weekend at the Lansing Center in Lansing. Like me, there were a LOT of faded looking people there but, despite their weariness, Day One of the convention was a huge success; well-attended and with high energy.

[Note: please excuse the poor-quality iPhone photos. Anne was home processing the thousands of photos she took in Charlotte.]

My day started at the first-ever “Bloggers Caucus” meeting, organized by my pal Christine Barry of Blogging for Michigan.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin addresses the Bloggers Caucus

The Bloggers Caucus is not actually an official caucus of the MDP (yet). However, we are moving toward making that happen. There is a great deal of benefit for Democratic officials, candidates, and bloggers themselves from having better coordination of our message and better communication in general. Having a somewhat more organized group will help with that. In addition, being a formal caucus will allow us to have a bit more of a voice when it comes to issues impacting bloggers (FOIA reform, keeping the internet open and accessible, etc.) What is clear is that the role of bloggers is becoming recognized as a valuable way to get out the Democratic message which is often given short shrift by the mainstream media outlets.

One of the things we discussed at length was what the term “blogger” means. There was general consensus that this umbrella phrase encompasses actual blogs as well as those who are online activists using other techniques (podcasting, Facebook activism, online news site comment “reputation management”, etc.) — what some call the “netroots”.

One of the candidates that addressed our group was University of Michigan Regent candidate Mark Bernstein, one of the hardest-working candidates I have ever met. Mark had his “Bernstein Bus” parked out front of the Lansing Center and served hot dogs to folks at lunch.

Another candidate who spoke to us was David Curson who is running to fill the remaining two months of disgraced Congressman Thad McCotter‘s term in Michigan’s 11th District. Curson is a Viet Nam veteran and autoworker who works for the Ford Motor Co. For the past 39 years he has served as a UAW Representative including serving as a member of the international union for 27 years.

Curson will face tea party Republican Kerry Bentivolio in the special election for this very short term. As he pointed out during his comments, lame duck sessions almost always see an incredible amount of legislative activity so, although the term is short, it is exceedingly important to have a solid Democrat in place in MI-11 during that time.

During the District Caucus meetings, I attended the meeting for the 7th District. The Democratic candidate for MI-07 is Kurt Haskell who showed up late in a lime green shirt and a lime green & orange striped tie. He gave a lackluster appeal for our support, saying he is running as “a political outsider”. It’s difficult for me to express how absolutely disappointed I am that we have Haskell as our candidate in MI-07, thanks mostly to the non-campaign of Jackson Democratic Party chair Ruben Marquez who couldn’t even be bothered to put up a website during his primary “campaign”. As I have written before, Haskell is “a conspiracy theorist who worries about ‘government overreach’, talks about cutting taxes in the middle of a recession and isn’t a proponent an essential part of the Affordable Care Act.” Haskell does not seem to be taking this race much more seriously than Marquez did and is running on a “please vote for me, I have no experience” platform that is a loser from the start, in my opinion. It’s unqualified, inexperienced lawmakers at both the state and federal levels that have screwed things up so royally these past two years and I fail to see how that is a compelling argument for any candidate.

There were three things that were specifically emphasized at the convention on Saturday: the importance of electing the “Three Supremes” to the Supreme Court, the passage of the Protect Our Jobs/Protect Working Families ballot proposal and the re-election of Senator Debbie Stabenow.

While the election of Stabenow is an easy sell for Democrats, the other two pieces are more difficult because they appear on the non-partisan section of the ballot. The three candidates for the Supreme Court, all women, are terrific. All Democrats need to start imprinting their names in their brains over the next two months so that there is no confusion at the polls:

  • Southfield District Court Judge Shelia Johnson
  • Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Connie Marie Kelley
  • University of Michigan Law Professor Bridget Mary McCormack

I’ll be interviewing Professor McCormack on Thursday and will have interviews with the other two candidates over the next couple of weeks.

The Protect our Jobs ballot proposal will be Proposal 2 on the November 6th ballot. It finally cleared the last hurdle — the state Supreme Court — this past week, clearing the way for the campaign to begin in earnest. This is, as I have said before, perhaps the most compelling item on the ballot for turning out Democrats in Michigan. Any of our labor brothers and sisters who may be feeling unenthusiastic to get involved with the election this year surely will be motivated by Proposal 2 which will put protections for collective bargaining in the state constitution. I’ll be writing much more about this in the coming weeks — it’s incredibly important.

Debbie Stabenow supporters took a few minutes from their convention day to pose for a photo with the Senator and her mother:

Senator Stabenow has had a busy week of her own. She was in Charlotte, as well, and addressed our state caucus breakfast meeting. She’s a fiery candidate whose positions are in stark contrast to Pete Hoekstra. Hoekstra is actually campaigning for Senate, in part, on a platform that would take away your right to vote for Senators. His hypocrisy is breathtaking. He also finds laws that require paying women the same as men for the same job to be “a nuisance”. As Senator Stabenow said yesterday, we find Pete Hoekstra himself to be a nuisance and, hopefully, this will be his last campaign and he will sink into obscurity after yet another political defeat.

Congressman Gary Peters took over emceeing duties for part of the day yesterday, introducing the convention attendees to many of the Congressional candidates on the ballot this fall.

Peters is on his game right and exuded leadership as he boomed out over the convention hall, highlighting the accomplishments of the various candidates. Kurt Haskell was mentioned but was absent.

Finally, the Michigan Democratic Party has kicked off a new project called “Turn Out 2012” with the tagline “2012: It’s ALL on the Line”. During the convention, they handed out signs where people could write in what they see as “on the line” this year.

Yesterday showed me just how motivated for victory Michigan Democrats are. Not only are they enthusiastic about re-electing Barack Obama, they are determined to regain the majority in the state House of Representatives and to send as many Democrats as possible to Washington, D.C. to help President Obama finish the job.

I was unable to attend to today where it’s mostly rules training and the passage of resolutions. There are rumors that there will be a bit of fireworks around a resolution to support the “25 by 25” renewable energy standard ballot proposal which will be Proposal 3 on the November ballot. While most Democrats are fully behind this proposal to require that 25% of Michigan’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025, there are a handful of unions that are not — those that benefit from the status quo of burning coal which pollutes the air, causes extensive harm to the environment and does nothing to promote job growth in Michigan.

My good friend Muskegon Critic has a marvelous piece up at Blogging for Michigan about Proposal 3:

The single most important thing to know about the 25×25 ballot proposal (Proposal 3), is that it will create jobs in Michigan. It will create jobs. Objectively. A Michigan State University study shows the ballot initiative will create tens of thousands of jobs in Michigan and bring in $10.3 billion in investment into our state.

This November, Michiganders will be able to vote to amend Michigan’s constitution to increase our renewable energy standard to 25% by 2025. That’s 25% of our power from renewable resources such as wind, solar, or biomass. That’s clean power whose components can be, and already are, manufactured right here in Michigan.

A couple months ago I was at a booth at Bike Time, a biker convention in Muskegon (Think Harley, not Huffy) talking up renewable energy to event attendees. A man with an enormous beard and a black T-shirt came up to our display, pointed to a picture of Michigan made wind turbine blade molds being EXPORTED overseas from out of a Muskegon port, and said “I helped build that!” {…}

Proposal 3 will jump start renewable energy demand in our state and encourage the use of Michigan manufacturers, adding fuel to this growing Michigan industry.

It protects consumers and businesses from rate increases from the proposal, limiting them to no more than 1% per year. In fact, increasing the use of renewable energy is expected to curb electricity cost increases in Michigan as we steer clear of building new and expensive coal plants and toward more economical renewable energy. The Michigan Public Service Commission puts the cost of renewable energy at $75 per mWh vs. $133 per mWh for new coal plants. Renewable energy is cheaper than power from new coal plants.

Finally…a Citizen Initiative driven constitutional amendment is the most effective way we can get to this goal to nurture Michigan innovation and businesses, and put people to work.

I highly commend your attention to Muskegon Critic’s piece. It has a photo of the first wind turbine blade on a ship taking it to another country — a true renewable energy EXPORT.

I’ve been critical of MDP conventions in the past but this one was a notable success. Coming as it does on the heels of an equally successful national convention, the Democrats in Michigan are clearly fired up and ready to go.

Want to get involved? Click HERE.