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Where politics and faith dance in the shadow of the windmill.

Schmidt storm

When Roy Schmidt switched parties it certainly stirred up a small tempest.

First, of course, was the obvious disarray that it left the local Democratic Party. The loss of an elected official was bad enough, to lose at the last possible minute, to lose with an obvious dummy candidate in place taking the role of a legitimate Democrat — well, that’s the stuff of grudges. There ought to be a law the feeling went, except — only there wasn’t.

Then came the report from Kent County Prosecuting Attorney, William Forsyth, and the small tempest became a major media storm. While the report could find no violations of the law, it nonetheless offered a damning view of the circumstances leading up to the switch, including the negotiations between the representative and Speaker of the House, Rep. Jase Bolger.  Forsyth’s own view was that of outrage. Although he could not prosecute, he was explicit on the violation of integrity.

“Incredibly, while it would be illegal to pay a boxer to take a “dive” or a basketball player to “point-shave”, it is not currently a crime in Michigan to recruit someone to run for public office, place them on the ballot at the “eleventh hour” and essentially pay them to make no effort to win.”

The extensive media attention by MLive and broadcast media have taken Forsyth’s words and made them a virtual campaign in themselves. The Democratic campaign from Winnie Brinks no longer needs to generate outrage, the report provides all the quotes one could use. Tactically this is a great advantage. Yet for all the outrage, is it enough?

Understandably, the sharp words from the Prosecuting Attorney give a morale boost to Democrats, but is it enough to shape the election? Here the actual make up of the redesigned district comes into play. There is no question that the district was restructured to give maximum voice to the GOP in the outer neighborhoods of the city. In the 76th the base leans slightly to the right (2004, .54 R; 2008, .45 R; 2010, .55 R), so depending on how strong the Republican base is motivated, the district becomes more or less difficult. As can be seen, much depends on the scale of turnout the Dems can generate.

To translate this: Roy Schmidt’s future rests with the casual, “persuadable” voter. If the GOP is sufficiently motivated, it may be enough. This is the real impact of the media storm. Yes the Dems can take direct heart, but the real damage is with Schmidt’s image among those who pay casual attention.  We already the see the damage in the jumping in of Bing Goei as a write candidate for Republicans. Like Brinks, he’s another CRC product and reflects the general disgust in the SE side.

For Schmidt to lose the SE side would put his campaign in jeopardy, even assuming a base vote like that of 2004. To win, he will need a partisan race like that of 2004, and not only that, he must also present the case that he is in line with the top of the ticket. That however, can only further erode his standing among the casual and persuadable voters. What he needs to do, is find some strategy to clean up after this storm. There are several available, more on that later.

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Filed under: Democratic Party, Elections, , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Peter Bratt says:

    After looking at the results and shifting through the data over the past week, I wonder what the impact of the following will be in the fall campaign:

    1. Whether Bing endorses Winnie or stays in the race as an independent. I highly doubt that Bing will endorse Roy; he’s made comments that are too hard to walk back. If he endorses Winnie, all the better, However, if he stays in the race, he might do far more damage to Roy, pulling away from some vital 3rd Ward precincts, perhaps getting 10% of the vote in the 3rd.

    2. There are already three minor party candidates; with all three from the right side of the spectrum. A wounded Roy might seriously allow for these candidates to double their vote totals from 1% to 2%, thus further eroding Roy’s new base.

    3. Impact on the State House. A GOP “wiseman” said that the powers that be in Lansing think that the State House is already lost, thanks to Romney not gaining traction in Michigan, Hoekstra not showing any sign of life against Stabenow, and the impact the the Schmidt/Bolger scandal with have on a number of house races. The question for the State GOP is whether to 1) throw their money at some vulnerable Congressional seats (Districts 1, 3, and 11, although the later two GOP candidates have no love from the State Party), 2) try to hold the Michigan Supreme Court (three seats are on the ballot, so if the Dems do well with Obama and Stabenow on top of the ticket, they could flip the court from 3-4 to 6 to 5 to 2, or 3) spend in a number of vulnerable state house seats to keep the Democratic gains below 9 seats. If we consider the Dems already counting gaining 2 seats (the 76th and the 55th in southern Washtenaw) while losing one (the 42nd which moved from Oakland County to Livingston), the dems would need to get eight more seats. I consider another 10 seats to be leaning Dem, most within metro Detroit. If you are the MI GOP, where do you spend your $$? the out of state funds are going to be coming this way this time

  2. Harris says:

    I think you’re leaving off the impact of Mr. Allard. Especially with the prospect that charges would be brought against Roy, the GOP will needs a fall-back. Weirdly they get it with a Granholm appointee. Allard positions as center-right with enough edge (part-time legislature) to connect with the far right. Plus he’s Catholic. More on all this shortly.

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