Windmillin'

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

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, , , , , , , ,

The Partisan Monoculture

Early in the week, Phil Power had an interesting column on Reform Michigan Government Now (RMGN) , in part reacting to the Chamber’s counter survey (more on that later), and in part looking at the impact of redistricting. With approximately three quarters of all seats defined as strongly favoring one party (“gerrymandered” would be the less polite term) the proposal would create political monocultures. Several problems arise in such cultures for both the majority and the minority parties.

Power highlight the difficulties:

So in both Democratic- and Republican-leaning districts, the real election takes place in the August primary.

That shift, as Power points out, has implications both for election mechanics and policy. To see the electoral mechanics, take a look at a local race I’ve been following, Michigan House District 72 (70/30 R). Read the rest of this entry »

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

And Not a Dime More

Linda Steil and Justin Amash are keeping some strange company this final week of the primary season: Dave Agema. This happy trio from West Michigan are the only locals to step and sign the No Climate Tax pledge.

This Pledge, a creature of Americans for Prosperity, is part of their campaign against the Climate Security Act, aka the Lieberman-Warner bill. The bill would have instituted a cap-and-trade approach to carbon emissions, but was withdrawn by Senate leadership on June 7 — remember that date.

So our trio fell for a lobbying campaign? Well not quite. Although 54 senators opposed the Lieberman-Warner measure, only one, Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) took the pledge. We are in the territory of fringe Republican politics, here, as the pledge itself makes clear:

I … pledge to the taxpayers of the State of Michigan that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in state or local government revenue.

Not a dime more to save the planet. The categorical breadth of the pledge, its refusal to consider any measure at all is a stunning sample of a failure to engage. There is a deep irresponsibility at work here, one that elevates a no-tax creed to the summit. In a word this is political idolatry.

Yet almost as incomprehensible, their signed statement is up on the web (see pledges below the fold).

One wants to stop and ask, “What were they thinking?” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Environment, , , , ,

So Ken, why not tell us what you really feel?

It was a genuine Michael Kinsley moment, when the politician makes a gaffe of accidentally telling the truth.

In the 2008 Election Guide, published by the Grand Rapids Press, Ken Yonker, one of the candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives (SH-72) was asked about utilities:

The state’s largest utilities want a guaranteed customer base before they invest in new plants. Should they have this guarantee?

Ken Yonker: Shakedown. Sorry, but I don’t negotiate with people this way.
There’s coffee all over the keyboard on that one.

Filed under: Elections, ,

Rumble on the Southbelt (3) — the Petri Dish

The Republican primary battle in State House District 72 (S. Kent County) pits three distinctive styles of conservatism against one another. In the August 5 primary we can begin to see the relative strength of each flavor of the party. Let’s take a look at them.

On one hand there is the conventional institutional Republicanism of Linda Steil. Her almost complete lack of external qualifications means her appeal rests on the continuation of a politics advanced by the chamber and by the Republicans in general over the past 15 years. She is the inheritor of term limits, maximal Supreme Court appointments — the sort that breed the counter action of Reform Michigan Government Now, an anti-tax theology, and generally the policy of government by lobbyist/PACs. Two difficulties arise with such a stance, First, this approach like that of its Democratic counterpart (that’s you, Mark Brewer) is largely responsible for the Legislative meltdown. Second, institutional Republicanism is generally a little sloppy as to its own discipline — they like to travel large (the peak at the finance statement shows a repeated pattern of paying top dollar).

With Justin Amash, we see the Movement Republican or Libertarian in full bloom. It is always nice to be an individualist when you already benefit from the lucky gene pool. His argument for “Principle” is little more than a guise for ignoring community concerns. It is also the viewpoint of the young (and the male): this is the classic style found on many conservative web sites; small wonder too, that Amash likes Ron Paul. Amash represents one approach to the Instititutional approach of a Steil — in essence, they are not pure enough. Oddly, in this idealism and youth, Amash taps the same cultural vibe that Obama hits.

A second alternative to institutional Republicanism is the Social Conservative style of Ken Yonker. This approach emphasizes the community — in its hard form, it is the use of legal proscription to enforce certain mores (Rep. Agema is a walking — or is it, hunting? — example of this); in the its soft form the community-focus takes a pragmatic approach. Yonker’s positions partake of both sides. His school board membership, his business history (considerably longer than the others) give a more practical air to his campaign. Relative to the Institutional, this is a focus on cooperation; relative to the Libertarian, it finally rejects it, but just barely (a fine post at The American Scene explores this tension in the Right).

These are the three organisms alive in the precinct petri dish. So what do we look for?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Rumble on the Southbelt (2) — Meet the Contenders

In an overwhelmingly Republican district such as the Michigan State House 72nd, the primary race is the deciding factor. In its mix of old suburban/urban, money, new suburban and agriculture (see earlier post), the district serves up as a Petri dish for current and future Republican politics.

The current battle three very different leading candidates, along with two minor players. By insider accounts, the race is extremely tight, with significant numbers of voters still undecided. Each of the major candidates exemplifies a different dimension in today’s Michigan Republican party. Who has been doing what with what will come clear this weekend with the release of the financial reports.

Below the fold we’ll take up the candidates, by their bio, platform, social conservative leanings (if any), and campaign.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Elections, , , , , ,

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