The Forgotten Totten?: Not so fast!


[For full disclosure purposes, I am a non-paid volunteer for the Mark Totten campaign for Attorney General in the state of Michigan.]

For passionate Democrats in the state of Michigan the past week has been quite delightful, has it not? As posted earlier this morning right here on Eclectablog, three straight polls show Mark Schauer and Rick Snyder in a virtual dead heat for the states CEO job. Congressman Gary Peters is also enjoying a growing lead over the incredibly inept Terri Lynn Land for the United States Senate.

While all these polls certainly bear out the truth that those of us that are working hard to elect Democrats in the state of Michigan, from the top down, are beginning to see the fruits of that labor realized, the rest of the story is about an uncommon candidate whose strength, intelligence, vision and determination find him just over 50 days away from something that most political experts said was impossible just six months ago. And what is that something? Mark Totten is in a virtual dead heat with incumbent Attorney General Bill Schuette, proving that Mark Totten can win.

Like every journey, Mark Totten’s candidacy and ascension to become the Michigan Democratic Party’s nominee for Attorney General reads very much like a compelling novel. Well over a year and a half ago, Michigan State University law professor and Kalamazoo lawyer Mark Totten made an important decision after deep contemplation and discussion between him and his wife Kristin. It was a decision that I know can and will change the way our communities are shaped in the future: he decided to run, against all odds, for Attorney General. I obviously wasn’t at the kitchen table the day they had this discussion but hearing Kristen tell this story leads me to believe that this candidacy was predestined.

As a surrogate for the Mark Totten for Attorney General campaign, I have learned a great deal, not just about the candidate himself and his family, but about what kind of Attorney General he might be. It is in that light that I present to you in this column that, for the first time, perhaps forever, we have an opportunity to elect somebody to the Attorney General’s office that by deed and practice exemplifies in the purest way what an Attorney General should be.

I first met Mark Totten when he announced that he was going to run for Attorney General here in Michigan. He was a guest on my radio show and asked if he could come in studio to do the interview. That gave me a chance to have access to somebody who was more than just a name running early for a seat that most predicted was impossible to win for a variety of reasons. Of those reasons, name recognition was one of the biggest issues. Also, Bill Schuette has a campaign war chest that any candidate would be proud of. Nevertheless, as time passed Mark Totten traveled the state with visits to every Democratic organization he could find that would allow him to speak. And there were many.

I’ve come to learn over the 20+ years I have been involved in Michigan politics that being a candidate, especially in Michigan, requires one to have a great deal of patience. There are decades upon decades of political tradition, some of which I don’t agree with. One of these traditions is that candidates need to be anointed by the political power base in the Democratic Party in Michigan. That, in and of itself, may not be a bad thing, but it can slow someone down until the right person at the right time in the right place gives you their go-ahead. Although it became quite clear early on in this election cycle that Mark Totten would be the only Democrat running for the Attorney General’s office, support from the state party was slow to gather. But not by the rank and file voters like you and I.

Mark Totten would not be deferred, deterred, or denied, and his energy, enthusiasm, sense of humanity, and ethics continued to drive him to the nomination that he enjoys today.

Mark Totten has many amazing qualities. He is a very dedicated family man and loves his wife and children deeply. He is a devout Christian who believes that all people, no matter who they are or what they represent, deserve full, open, and dedicated leadership from the office of the Attorney General. As a result of his collective lifetime experience and an inner burning that fuels his advocacy and sense of doing right by the people, Totten is perfectly placed for this position. I believe history will remember Election Day 2014 as a day of reckoning for all of Michigan and for the people who make up her foundation, and that, by being elected as our Attorney General, Mark Totten became the People’s Lawyer who then set out to do what he had professed he would do from the very beginning. We’ll remember that he played by the rules and protected people who have been left behind too many times, especially under the oversight of current Attorney General Bill Schuette.

So, devoted voter, you ask why is Mark Totten forgotten? Because the media, in their infinite wisdom, is seemingly ignoring the fact that Mark Totten has quietly but diligently, with passion and purpose, found a way to connect to the people of the state of Michigan and now finds himself in a statistical dead heat with an opponent that most everyone believed was untouchable at the polls.

Mark Totten has proved that theory to be 100% dead wrong!

There doesn’t seem to be a right-wing agenda item that Bill Schuette hasn’t embraced as Attorney General and he has turned that office into an embarrassing display of what wealth can buy and what politics can ruin. Whether were talking about a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health or protecting children in the foster care system, both groups Bill Schuette seems to either ignore or harass, he is obviously not the right person for this critical position in the state of Michigan.

We are now just over 50 days out of the general election on November 4, 2014 and it is clear, as I stated earlier in this missive, that, as Democrats, we are doing a remarkable job of waking people up and getting them to focus on our collective future that has been severely threatened by a Republican wave in the year 2010 – a wave that saw Republicans getting elected in places where they should never have had a chance. And then those same Republicans gerrymandered the entire state to slant the playing field in their favor, creating a tsunami of outrage among the electorate. Now the real question is, will those outraged by what the Republicans have done at every level of government in the state of Michigan show up to vote on Election Day?

Some food for thought: Like most of us, I believe in the basic tenets of the Democratic Party and what it stands for. No, it is not the perfect political party by any stretch of the imagination, but it is what I call home. I also realize in a crystal-clear way that the depth and the strength of my politics is far more extreme than the average person. I’m proud of that. But I’m also a realist and part of that reality is to understand that, in order to change someone’s mind, especially as it relates to who they will vote for, you must – I repeat must – continue to educate, inform, and empower the “average” voter so that when they walk up to the voting booth on November 4, they are voting smarter.

Mark Totten, gives us a very clear picture of what a responsible, dedicated Attorney General would look and act like if he is elected. For those of you who were not at the Michigan Democratic Party convention, Mark Totten’s acceptance speech for the nomination for Attorney General was amazing. I encourage you to click through here and read his remarks so that you have a better understanding of what it is I’m referencing. But understand this if you understand nothing else: Mark Totten, shaped by every corner he has turned and journey he has experienced, believes with every fiber of his being that one should never be punished for being born gay, female, poor, or into the middle class.

You see, Mark Totten is one of us. He fought for every single accomplishment that he has won throughout his remarkable career and I firmly believe that he feels in the most profound way that his life experience has led him to this moment in time and he honestly believes that he can and will be the answer to the troubling question as to why our Attorney General, Bill Schuette believes that his activist agenda and the agenda of the wealthy people who continue to write him checks at a record pace are more important than you and I.

As I have watched Mark Totten grow was a candidate over the last year and a half, I have come to firmly believe that the son of a single mother who worked his way through college and law school, who has made a career out of representing the underdog, and who has done and continues to do the noble task of educating young minds, will redefine what the office of Attorney General should and will look like if he is elected.

So that I’m clear on this position, I am thrilled with the news reports that both Mark Schauer and Gary Peters are performing as well as they are at this point. But let us not forget that our next Attorney General will have immense power to shape the future of how we will live and survive, and hopefully thrive, in the state of Michigan. It is my belief that Mark Totten represents our best chance of building an all-inclusive society that others will come to envy and want to join.

To me, anyway, the choice is clear. Yes, I am partial to one Mark Totten for Attorney General in the state of Michigan. I make no apologies for that and never will. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt because I have had unusual access to this particular candidate and know that Mark Totten represents and will cut a path to the future that we can and will be proud of.

In closing, dedicated voter, educate yourself, share that education with others, and let’s be sure that we leave everything on the political playing field as we ramp up to the November 4, 2014 election. You DO have a role to play in this election and how history will remember us weighs on all our shoulders. Yes, that is some pretty heavy stuff, but it will be much easier for you to live with yourself on November 5, no matter the outcome, knowing that your work and effort was all that you had to give for the cause of democracy in Michigan and in the righting of this ship that has gone terribly askew.

Mark Totten understands that, I understand that, and I believe you do too.

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]