Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 11, 2012

George Weeks 11/11


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---- — Once again, Michigan was Go Blue for the president last week, making it nearly a quarter century since a Republican carried the state — going back to George H.W. Bush's nearly 300,000-vote edge over Massachusett Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988.

But after contributing to President Barack Obama's reelection Nov. 6 over ex-Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, Michigan remains a solidly red state in Lansing, where Republicans retain control of all three branches of government.

Republicans also have a 9-5 majority in Michigan's U.S. House delegation — confirmed Friday when Democrat Gary McDowell conceded a narrow victory by 1st District Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, in their rematch of 2010 when Benishek had a 52-41 percent win.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow's impassive 58 percent third-term win over Republican Pete Hoekstra retains her pairing with Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan's longest-serving senator.

Once again, it was evident from Tuesday's loss by Romney, born and raised in Oakland County, to Obama, that being a Michigan native does not assure the state's support.

In 1944, Republican New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, born and raised in Owosso, narrowly lost to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Michigan, although Dewey narrowly outpolled President Harry Truman here in 1948.

In 1976, Nebraska-born President Gerald R. Ford, who was raised in Grand Rapids and elected to Congress from there, outpolled Democrat Jimmy Carter in Michigan but lost the presidency to Carter.

Ford had been nominated by President Richard Nixon as vice president and installed to fill the vacancy after Spiro T. Agnew resigned, and then became President upon Nixon's resignation in August of 1974 because of the Watergate scandal.

Ford was the only vice president and president never elected to either office.

Michigan at sea

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin and his wife last week helped prepare yet another Michigan-named warship for duty.

On Duty now of the seas are the USS Michigan, a guided-missile submarine and USS Lake Erie, a guided-missile cruiser. Under construction is the USS Gerald R. Ford, a next generation aircraft carrier, due for delivery in 2015.

Last week, at Wisconsin's Marinette Marine Corporation Shipyard, Levin and his wife Barbara participated in the kneel-laying ceremony for the future USS Detroit, a littoral combat ship — littoral being the meeting place of land and ocean where it is anticipated much of future conflicts will occur.

Barbara Levin was the ship's "sponsor," meaning her initials will be welded into a sheet of the ship's steel.

Help for veterans

This being the week of Veterans Day that has been observed since 1919, there has been a proclamation by Gov. Rick Snyder, creation of a help website by Attorney General Bill Schuette, and other efforts to commemorate the Nov. 11 armistice signed effectively ending World War I.

Snyder declared November Hire a Veteran Month and announced a series for career fairs urging Michigan employers to do more to help returning veterans make the transition from military service to employment.

Jason Allen, Senior Deputy Director of the Department of Military and Veterans, said, "We encourage Michigan veterans, widows and survivors to review the benefits they have earned."

Allen said among ways to get information are calling (517) 335-6523 and checking the Michigan Veterans Affairs website, www.mi.gov/veterans.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing Bureau Chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.