DeVos names his second banana: My thoughts on Ruth Johnson (and John Cherry)

Dick DeVos named his running mate Monday: Ruth Johnson, a former state rep and current Oakland County Clerk.

It's clear to me that this was based solely on politics, and not on ability to govern should the need arise. This was meant to add gender and geographical balance to the ticket. DeVos is banking on the idea that people in that part of the state will vote for him because his second banana happens to hail from the same part of the state as them (the fact that Granholm lives in Northville notwithstanding), and that more women will vote for him because his #2 is a woman (the fact that we have a pro-choice woman in the Executive Office notwithstanding).

Both Democrats and Republicans aim for regional balance (i.e. Kerry picking Edwards in 2004, Dick Posthumus picking Metro Detroiter Loren Bennett in 2002). However, regional balance is no guarantee of victory in the fall. I mentioned Kerry and Posthumus. In 1996, Kansan Bob Dole and New Yorker Jack Kemp lost to Clinton and Gore, who hailed from neighboring states. Four years earlier, Clinton and Gore beat Texan G.H.W. Bush and Hoosier Dan Quayle, who had previously beaten Michael Dukakis (MA) and Lloyd Bentsen (TX). So regional balance guarantees nothing. That said, do I expect DeVos to pick up a few votes because of this? Yes. Will it be enough to win? It may be what wins it for him, but only if it's very close.

However, regional balance isn't the only issue. Remember that in the event the governor is unable to perform his or her duties, the The question must also be asked: is the person ready to become governor? Voters must ask themselves if they would be fine with a 'Governor Cherry' or a 'Governor Johnson.' Only a few governors have ever resigned (often to take positions in a Presidential cabinet), and only one has died. But the question must still be asked.

Me? I'm obviously siding with Cherry:

Cherry's focus on families and education has meant that more of Michigan's children have the opportunity to go to college. He has led the Lt. Governor's Commission on Higher Education & Economic Growth, making a series of recommendations that has brought higher education into the larger discussion of creating and retaining jobs here in Michigan. He also serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the Midwest Higher Education Compact.

Cherry's interest in politics began as a teenager through organizing and political activism. He took a job as administrative assistant to former State Senator Gary Corbin, later serving as political director for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO until his election to the Michigan House.

As a legislator, Cherry focused on the issues that were most important to him - families, the quality of life in Michigan, the environment and Michigan's great outdoors. He has authored and co-sponsored several milestone Michigan laws dealing with workers' rights, environmental protection and conservation.

As for DeVos and Johnson, the Michigan Democratic Party has come out swinging:

“It is no surprise that extreme Dick DeVos chose extreme Ruth Johnson as his running mate,” Brewer said. “Johnson met every one of DeVos’ litmus tests because they both are out of step with mainstream Michigan.”

“Ruth Johnson has a record of being opposed to: stem cell research, raising the minimum wage, affirmative action, a women’s right to choose including victims of rape and incest, improving water quality, support for cities including Detroit, improving education, and stopping insurance company redlining,” Brewer added. “The DeVos/Johnson ticket is a perfect match of two extremists.”

“Governor Granholm and Lt. Governor Cherry have been a powerful voice for the entire state of Michigan. They are executing the nation’s most comprehensive and aggressive jobs plan, protecting public education and are fighting for healthcare for everyone,” Brewer continued. “Voters now have a distinct contrast between the extreme right wing policies of Dick DeVos and Ruth Johnson and the Granholm Administration which is putting Michigan first.”

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