We’re not losing this one
Photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog
As I wrote yesterday, the Washtenaw County Democratic Party’s Precinct Organizing Committee (led by me and organizer Tad Wysor of Ypsilanti) has been holding a series of Grassroots Empowerment Orientation sessions across the county over the past month. These meetings are the first steps toward building a network of neighborhood teams across the county that will work between now and Election Day 2014 to turn out as many Democratic voters as possible.
At our sessions, we had the pleasure of hearing from Democratic Floor Leader David Rutledge as well as his House colleagues Representatives Jeff Irwin and Adam Zemke. One common theme at all three meetings and from all three of these members of the Washtenaw County Democratic caucus was that former Saline mayor Gretchen Driskell’s seat in the 52nd House district is a “must hold” seat for us. Democrats in the House only need to turn 6 seats blue to take back control.
House Rep. Gretchen Driskell addresses Washtenaw County organizers at the WCDP Grassroots Empowerment Orientation in Chelsea, July 22, 2013, photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog
In 2010, Republican Mark Ouimet won the seat over Democrat Christine Green with 52% of the vote. That 52-48 split mirrors the results of polling on generic candidates. In other words, voters in MI-52 will vote for a generic Republican over a generic Democrat 52-48. However, in 2012, thanks to a robust Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operation and a terrific candidate, Driskell beat Ouimet by the same 52-48 margin. It shows the power of person-to-person contact and how important a strategic GOTV operation is.
Here’s what has got to be freaking out any Republican considering getting into the race in the 52nd District: not only are Washtenaw County organizers already assembling their ground game based in the same principles that got President Obama elected (twice), we will be pulling resources from the entire county to work on Gretchen’s race. Even grassroots organizers in the districts of David Rutledge, Jeff Irwin, and Adam Zemke will be working to ensure she goes back to Lansing after 2014. These three legislators are in comfortably solid Democratic seats thanks to Republican gerrymandering and having their districts in the liberal strongholds of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Therefore, their message to grassroots organizers across Washtenaw County was the same: “Do whatever it takes to make sure Gretchen Driskell wins again in 2014”.
Mark Ouimet is reportedly still trying to decide whether or not to run again next year. We’ll likely know soon enough if he is willing to put himself out there once again. His campaign in 2010 was based heavily on billboards with his picture on them, heavy expenditures on radio ads and yard signs, and vicious robocalls and mailers from his repugnant corporatist allies. I never got the impression his heart was really in it just so he could go to Lansing and be a lapdog for the Republican Party and vote with his GOP colleagues 99.2% of the time.
I have to believe that when Mark Ouimet looks out across the 52nd district and sees that we’re already putting the pieces in place to have a repeat Democratic win in 2014, his job in the business sector must look very comfortable and much more attractive than the nasty smear campaign he ran in 2010. He has to be asking himself if it’s really worth it to get humiliated once again running for a seat that’s being so solidly defended by such passionate activists.
No matter what his decision is, we’ll be ready for him because our effort to keep this seat solidly blue is already well underway.