Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 6, 2014

George Weeks: Gender, geography balance on Dem ticket

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, a former state legislator and congressman from Battle Creek, made a politically smart move on gender and geography in selecting Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, a two-term ex-state representative, as his running mate.

Three women are listed among the state’s lieutenant governors, the first in 1940, although the Michigan Manual notes, “there is some question as to whether Matilda R. Wilson became, in fact, lieutenant governor during the last 6 weeks of Luren D. Dickinson’s term as acting governor.” As lieutenant governor, Dickinson became acting governor upon the March 16, 1939 death of Gov. Frank D. Fitzerald.

Much more notable were 1983-1990 Lt. Gov. Martha Griffiths, a former congresswoman serving with Gov. James Blanchard, and 1991-1998 Lt. Gov. Connie Binsfeld, a former state representative and senator, serving with Gov. John Engler.

In losing 20th century campaigns, now-U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow was paired in 1994 with Democrat Howard Wolpe; now-Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ran in 2006 with Republican Dick DeVos; and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence was paired in 2010 with Democrat Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.

Although these three pairings were unsuccessful, it strikes me that the Schauer-Brown link makes sense, not only for the gender and East-West geographical balance but because the two are solidly in sync on issues—as are Gov. Rick Snyder and current Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

In announcing his choice last week, Schauer said: “I’ve been looking for someone who isn’t afraid to speak up for what’s right. Make no mistake: Lisa Brown is a fighter and she knows how to lead.”

She recently was one of four county clerks who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples less than 24 hours after a federal judge overturned Michigan’s ban on gay marriage. As of this writing that ruling is under appeal.

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