Traverse City Record-Eagle


December 29, 2013

George Weeks: National interest in Mich. elections

There’s been recent heightened national interest in Michigan’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, and it will increase in coming weeks. Some observations on 2014 outlooks:

--With nationwide polls showing Democrats suffering from the botched rollout of Obamacare, assorted polls and media commentators have cited improved—but by no means assured—prospects that Republicans, who rule the House, could win the net six seats needed to take control of the Senate.

In the race between likely nominees Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Oakland County and Republican ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land of Kent County to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, some polling, but not all, has moved from “lean Democrat” to “toss up.”

At one point, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, as part of a fund-raising pitch to party faithful about endangered states, said: “In Michigan we’ve slipped seven points this month.”

--Some December polling also gave Gov. Rick Snyder a slight lead over ex-Congressman Mark Schauer of Battle Creek, likely Democratic nominee.

Early December 2013 polls, although of interest to party and media types even long before campaigning gets underway, are not predictive of what will happen when it counts in early November 2014.

Nonetheless, there is increasing national focus on Snyder (yet to formally announce for reelection), one of 30 incumbent Republican governors. Beyond Michigan’s economic issues, there is the Snyder role in Detroit’s largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy.

Although not a focus of national coverage, an issue destined to become a hot issue in the 2014 election here in Michigan is Snyder’s signing last week of a controversial bill that protects the secrecy of issue ad contributors, quashing a commendable effort by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to increase transparency on such donors—a move that Snyder once advocated.

The bill has some positive provisions, including the Snyder-touted requirement of disclosure of sponsors of automated “robocalls” we all get on the phone. But Snyder should have used the veto pen.

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