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

Roy Schmidt’s four-fold path

As Nate Reens notes, the Schmidt-storm continues on the editorial pages across the state. Particularly brutal was the Detroit Free Press

No one in Schmidt’s district (maybe even in the state) can trust him at this point. He clearly believes more in his own political preservation than he does in the integrity of his office or the democratic process.

“No one can trust him…” That is not necessarily the death blow that the Freep assumes, more damaging is the blow to the image. As a brand, Roy Schmidt needs to rebuild, because the brutal electoral math is that Republican base or no, the district is won by the persuadables. Roy desperately needs to rebuild some trust. So what is a poor boy to do? Four paths suggest themselves.

Do the Hardiman.

It’s one of the better if shameless plays out there: when caught in an ethics lapse propose a reform to outlaw what you just did. For then Senator Hardiman, it was robo-calling against his opponent — calls without party identification. He was “shocked” even as he benefited. Robo-call reform became one of his calling cards. Of course this is shameless for Schmidt, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t be effective. He stands with that vigilant defender of voter integrity, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to introduce new reforms to the registration process. In fact, for Johnson it could be win-win, with the new legislation confirming her as a fighter for integrity while distracting from her own campaign of voting restriction. And Schmidt doesn’t even have to really think what those reforms could be, turns out Stephen Henderson already has a list for him to borrow from.

Of course there are drawbacks. This has to be put forth sooner rather than later, since the notion is to replace a “he’s corrupt” narrative with a “he’s a reformer” one. That takes time and attention. Of course, it also needs the sign-off from the House leadership, and that’s the problem. The House Dems already have a set of reform proposals, so any Schmidt-led reform runs afoul of internal House politics.

Do the Amash

One of the hallmarks of our present Congressman, Justin Amash, is his ability to take seeming independent stands. The recent kerfuffle over a missing Right to Life endorsement would be one such move (overlooking the fact that his actual stand is to the right of the organization). So Schmidt could find a cause that he could immediately advocate, that separates him from the GOP while re-establishing himself as the “Roy we all knew.” Possible issues could be education, revenue sharing — but does Roy have the freedom for this move? Will the militant wing of the GOP really tolerate such a move? Already the rumbles on the SE side suggest that this path is not available. In an election cycle, it is even more difficult to see how such a strategy could be advanced. Were he re-elected, then perhaps. But as part of the campaign? Again, a difficult play, and so, not likely.

Do the Matt Davis

MLive commentator suggests simply toughing it out.

Judging from Kent County Prosecutor William A. Forsyth’s epistle, you would think that their effort was the precursor to Western civilization falling on its ear.
Piffle.

And there is something actually attractive about being so hard nosed. The proverbial, “So? What’re you going to do about it?” is rough on the good government folks, but it’s a nice stand-up style. As the saying goes, politics ain’t beanbag. Nonetheless, there’s a fly in this: to claim the tough guy stance you have to first win. The one outstanding feature of the entire Schmidt-storm is the basic failure of the plan. If you are going to play a dirty trick, you need first to carry it through. Instead, Schmidt hesitates, looks weak. The tough guy approach is basically an assertion of competence: sure I did it, I know what I’m doing. Obviously, that is not the case, here.

As tempting as doing nothing or being defiant may appear, it remains a declaration of unsuitability for office.

So what’s left?

Leave.

Indications are already in the air that this may be the path. The emergence of Bing Goei as an opponent is not mere opportunism, but a sign of distrust within the centrist GOP ranks — the very folks who would otherwise welcome Schmidt. With plenty of outrage directed at House Speaker Jase Bolger, the politically opportune move would be to cut one’s losses. Were Schmidt unable or unwilling to mount one of the other counter plans above, then the resignation looms as an easier option.

Of course, he could stay, and win the primary. That gamble rests on a more polarized electorate, closer to 2010 than any of the presidential years. But that very inactivity, that passiveness about his future simply pushes him into the role of “politics at its worst” and far from the Roy folks thought they new.

Filed under: Elections, Republican Folly, , , , , , , , , ,

Goeing, Goeing, Gone?

Does Bing Goei know something we don’t? Or is he just really pissed? In today’s press conference, he suggested a little bit of both:

“I had to rethink my position,” Goei said. “I’ve always challenged people, when they see a wrong, to stand up and challenge it and make it right. I’ve been asking other people to stand up and this became ‘Am I going to stand up?’”
“I can’t let a wrong or an injustice go unanswered and unchallenged. And when I look at Roy being a Republican leader for Grand Rapids, that move was made in Lansing. No one has said he’s a Republican here and I want this to be a choice.”

Perhaps we can attribute it to blood in the water, but Goei has been pretty cautious — after all he considered running earlier and then declined to run. So some other recalculation has taken place. Whatever the reason, Goei’s entry makes the task for Roy Schmidt all that much harder.

Tactically, Goei faces a challenge: his write-in campaign will need 4,000 – 6,000 votes for a clean win. That scale is certainly larger than his mailing list from his last run. His clear advantage is that he will be a known quantity for many in the district if nothing else, from his last run.

But it’s going to take money. Here, Rep. Ken Yonkers’ abandoning Schmidt serves as an indication of potential funding. More critically for the campaign will be that of organization. At this point it looks almost certainly like a direct mail campaign rather than a lot of door to door.

At least one commentator on MLive has suggested that House Speaker Jase Bolger is already at work on this, that Goei has at least his tacit blessing, or even more, perhaps the assurance that Schmidt will be gone by August 4.

Of course much of this is good news for Winnie Brinks.

Her background in the Christian Reformed Church dovetails with that of Goei’s — when it comes to the center they appeal to the same audience. In the general this may prove problematic, given Goei’s more visible standing in the Third Ward, but for now, she’s out front and on the doorsteps. As Brandon Dillon showed in 2010, hard work and vigorous campaigning can make a big difference in this district.

The larger question in the next two weeks will be what to do with the Republican Right Wing. In 2010, Goei ran slightly to the left of the militants, (aka Tea Party). For Schmidt, the defensive move will be to shift rightward. The danger is that the Third Ward is conservative but not as anti-government as the militant wing presents itself. Even if going right wins it for Schmidt in the primary, it only serves to confirm to conservative centrists that they will be better with the moderate Winnie Brinks.

But the other option on the  table, that Schmidt will withdraw, also poses a danger for Goei. Does he then lean right to better secure a win in November? Or can he keep reasonably centrist and so suck some air out of a Brinks’ campaign? Here, his first hesitancy probably comes into play. The ideological contortions that would be involved are the sort that can subtly rob a campaign of its attack. And most definitely, a Brinks-Goei battle will need strong, aggressive campaigns.

Filed under: Elections, , , , , , , ,

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.

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

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