While I was bartending here in greater GR, other Democrats from across the state were gathered at Cobo Hall to endorse a slate of candidates for various offices in this year's election. The endorsees are:
- Supreme Court (technically nonpartisan): Bridget Mary McCormack, Shelia Johnson, Connie Kelley
- State Board of Education: Lupe Ramos-Montigny, Michelle Fecteau
- U-M Regents: Mark Bernstein, Shauna Ryder-Diggs
- MSU Trustees: Joel Ferguson, Brian Mosallam
- WSU Governors: Sandra Hughes O'Brien, Kim Trent
They are set to be formally nominated at a separate convention in late August (state law provides a certain window during which they may actually be nominated). I don't yet know a whole lot about all of these candidates, but a few observations:
1. McCormack has been campaigning for this for quite some time now, going around and meeting with grassroots Democratic activists around the state. It's a strategy I call "the Jocelyn Benson," since Jocelyn did that for more than a year before she was nominated for Secretary of State.
2. Johnson also campaigned across the state in 2010, appearing at many Democratic gatherings. However, she ended up not being nominated in 2010. I'm glad she got a nod this time.
3. Lupe was one of our nominees in 2010, as you may recall. She was a teacher in Grand Rapids Public Schools for 36 years. Don't you think the Board of Ed could stand to use an educator's perspective?
4. Bernstein should win on name recognition alone. Let's face it: If you're a candidate for one of these offices, most of the votes you get will be from people who (a) recognized your name or (b) vote straight ticket or close to straight ticket. If he does win, Bernstein will be the second in his family to be elected to a statewide education board; his brother, Richard, was elected in 2002.
5. Ferguson is the only incumbent Democrat seeking re-election to any of these boards.
6. If our Supreme Court candidates all win this year, the Michigan Supreme Court will have five women. Five out of seven. And of the 11 candidates endorsed this weekend, eight are women.
Of course, I don't think that merely having women in public office is the end-all, be-all for equality. I'm glad we have Vice President Biden instead of Vice President Palin. But at a time like this, it highlights a difference between the two parties.
The Party of Palin has been declaring war on Palin's gender in the name of "religious freedom" or "conscience" - and now they are paying the price in the polls. Their nominees for various offices will likely include Mitt "What Will He Believe Next Month?" Romney, Stephen Markman, Brian Zahra, Pete "Cultural Sensitivity" Hoekstra, and probably several men (and a couple women) for education boards. (There will likely be a lot of pressure from Republicans to have their party nominate a woman for the other Supreme Court slot, and given their plummeting standing among women, don't be surprised if Romney picks a woman for VP.)
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party's nominees for various offices will include our first African-American President, the author of the Violence Against Women Act, Michigan's first female Senator, and the aforementioned women (and men).