Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 23, 2014

George Weeks: Aggressive Lon Johnson’s 1st year as chair

When unseated 13 months ago, Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer was the party’s longest-serving chair in the nation and second to none in aggressively carrying the partisan fight across his state. He was a regular in crashing GOP confabs on Mackinac Island.

Brewer was abandoned by such party powers as the UAW and such key members of Congress as Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn, the longest-serving member in history, in favor of longtime party strategist Lon Johnson, who among other campaigns ran Dingell’s winning 2002 primary when redistricting pitted him against another Democratic incumbent.

Johnson, whose northern Michigan ties include his own 2012 bid for the solidly-Republican 103rd state House district, where he won 47 percent of the vote, now runs a Brewer-like high-visibility attack mode (he also crashed a GOP Mackinac gathering), beyond whatever recruiting and organization skills he may have.

(He recruited ex-Kalkaska Sheriff Jerry Cannon, a retiered National Guard general, for the 2014 challenge of 1st District U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek. In Sault Ste. Marie Cannon last week said: “It’s unacceptable that Northern Michigan is being left behind with higher unemployment than the rest of Michigan.”)

It could be said that Johnson has had his own version of “March Madness”—seeking to make voters mad at Gov. Rick Snyder, who is challenged by former state and congressional lawmaker Mark Schauer from Battle Creek, and at ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land of Kent County, who is challenged by U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a fifth-generation Oakland County native, to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin.

For example on the attack last week Johnson:

--Said, “Snyder is not on the side of Michigan’s middle-class families, and they clearly know it. Snyder’s record of raising taxes on seniors and middle-class families and cutting out schools, just to give a multi-billion dollar handout to wealthy special interests, is clearly taking a toll on Michigan voters. Our state needs a governor who will fight for everyone, not just wealty special interests.”

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