Michigan Democratic Party opts for March 8 primary; Delegate Selection Plan open for public comments

The Michigan Democratic Party has released its draft Delegate Selection Plan for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which will center on a March 8 presidential primary. The Plan itself has a lot to it, including procedural guarantees (i.e. nondiscrimination clauses); how delegate spots are allocated to presidential candidates; and specific rules on how the process of electing delegates works. (If it seems like there's a lot of legal-ese, it's because the DNC requires it in each state's delegate selection plan.)

The plan also calls for processes and efforts to ensure participation by Democrats of various races and ethnicities, as well as young, LGBT, and disabled Democrats. It also calls for education on the delegate selection process, as well as opportunities for financial support for less well-off Democrats who'd like to attend.

Under the rules, Michigan will have a total of 152 delegates:

  • 19 "Superdelegates," which include members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee;
  • 17 Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) delegates, elected by State Central on June 11, 2016;
  • 29 At-Large Delegates, elected by State Central right after PLEOs are elected; and
  • 87 District-level delegates apportioned to congressional districts according to how well the Democrats do in those districts. They'll be elected at district conventions on May 21, 2016.

Holding the primary in conjunction with the Republican primary offers a number of advantages:

  • We'll potentially have some influence. Iowa, new Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada all go in February; the rest of the states can go March 1 or later. There are incentives for states to go after April 1 - and Michigan took advantage of such incentives in 2012 and may again in 2020. But while other states go later, Michigan will likely have a say in the event that the nomination isn't settled by early March.
  • We can test GOTV strategies and tactics.
  • It'll save us money and effort on holding a caucus - money and effort that will instead go toward electing Democrats.
  • We'll be compliant with the DNC's rules regarding timing. Never forget or repeat 2008.
  • We'll have more data. As I mentioned recently, if both parties have a competitive primary, then
    Democratic voters who may have in the Democratic primary, providing more accurate clues as to the voter's actual political leanings. (Given the choice between two competitive primaries, you're probably going to choose the party with which you more closely align.

    Not that there won't be any crossover - there's usually some - but it will be minimal, and the odds are against Michigan being part of another Operation Hilarity. Phone banks and polls only go so far in deterring who's a Democrat and who isn't.

The plan will be formally approved at the April 25 State Central Committee meeting in Grand Rapids - but not before a public comment period. Under Delegate Selection Rule 1.C, all public comments must be received for 30 days and submitted to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, which then goes through each state's plan with a fine tooth comb.

Public comments may be submitted to midemparty@michigandems.com.


Troll So Hard, Debbie Stabenow/Tom Cotton edition

Man, is this amazing.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) delivered a pitch-perfect trolling lesson to the Senate on Wednesday, filing an amendment calling to defund "the purchase of stationary [sic] or electronic devices for the purpose of members of Congress or congressional staff communicating with foreign governments and undermining the role of the President as Head of State in international nuclear negotiations on behalf of the United States."

In other words, Stabenow wants to defund Tom Cotton letters.

Earlier this month, Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, organized a letter to Iranian leaders warning that future presidents may not abide by a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions currently being negotiated by the Obama administration. Cotton garnered 46 additional GOP co-sponsors, and outraged even many critics of the Iran talks for addressing the letter directly to top Iranian government officials and bypassing the executive branch, which is constitutionally charged with negotiating foreign pacts.


But these legislative dominance rituals often do have real political consequences, even when they do not result in direct policy changes. Cotton's Iran letter has been politically unpopular, and even simply raising the issue through the amendment process could force senators who signed the letter to take another round of heat.

I have two amazing Senators.


Kentwood City Commission unanimously backs Proposal 1

The Kentwood City Commission unanimously approved a resolution supporting Proposal 1, which, if passed, would increase road funding.

Commissioners Betsy Artz, Michael Brown, Bob Coughlin, Jerry DeMaagd, and Mayor Steve Kepley supported it. Being an MDOT employee, new Commissioner Steve Redmond (formally appointed and sworn in tonight to succeed Sharon Brinks) abstained due to a possible conflict of interest. Commissioner Erwin Haas was absent.

If Proposal 1 passes, Kentwood will see nearly $3.8 million in funding for road projects in Fiscal Year 2016 - a 22% increase over Fiscal Year 2014. By Fiscal Year 2018, that would increase to more than $5.1 million - nearly 65% more than 2014.

The final version of the resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Michigan’s roads and bridges threaten driver safety and contribute to countless accidents each year, as drivers swerve to avoid potholes and other road hazards; and

WHEREAS, 38 percent of Michigan’s state- and locally-owned urban roads and 32 percent of the state’s state- and locally-owned rural roads are in poor condition; and

WHEREAS, Michigan has relied on Band-Aid, short-term fixes for our roads instead of investing enough money to fix our roads for the long term; and

WHEREAS, Michigan invests less per capita in transportation than any state in the United States of America; and

WHEREAS, the longer we wait to fix Michigan’s roads, the more it will cost us; and

WHEREAS, in addition to threatening public safety, Michigan’s crumbling roads hurt our economy; and

WHEREAS, Proposal 1 on the May 5 ballot is Michigan’s best chance to finally fix our roads with funds that the politicians can’t divert somewhere else – while also supporting Michigan’s long-term future by investing in our public schools and local communities;

WHEREAS: Having adequate resources to fix our crumbling roads and bridges is crucial to helping improve the state’s economy and generate an estimated 15,000 new skilled and high-paying jobs in Michigan; and

WHEREAS: Because safe roads are essential to the movement of goods throughout Michigan, Proposal 1 is supported by some of Michigan’s leading organizations of job providers including the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Michigan First, Business Leaders for Michigan, the West Michigan Policy Forum, Detroit Regional Chamber, Small Business Association of Michigan, Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Lodging and Resort Association and more; and

WHEREAS: Having safe roads is vital to the success of municipalities and is supported by some of the state’s leading associations including the Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Association of Counties, Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, and Michigan Townships Association; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the City of Kentwood supports Proposal 1 on the May 5 ballot to provide the funding needed to finally fix our roads for the long term; and

RESOLVED: That the City of Kentwood knows the 1-cent increase in the sales tax will benefit local communities and help ensure drivers’ safety on the roads; and

RESOLVED: That the City of Kentwood formally supports Safe Roads Yes! because if it passes, every penny we pay at the pump in state gas taxes is guaranteed in the constitution to go to transportation.


A few thoughts on Sigma Alpha Epsilon

By now, you're probably familiar with the outrageous, offensive behavior of (now-suspended) members of the fraternity in Oklahoma.

It sickens me for two reasons. First is the obvious - it’s racist, offensive, and immature. But there's another reason it disgusts me: it goes against every impression I’ve ever had of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

I never joined a fraternity during my undergraduate days. I had a lot on my plate back then. But I did come to respect most of the fraternities and sororities at CMU. And of all of the Greek organizations on campus, I held the highest regard for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Almost every interaction I had with SAE members - in student government, residence life, and everything else - was positive. They demonstrated respect, integrity, and commitment in all they said and did.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon members approach the concept of a True Gentleman in a way that I, a non-member, presumably cannot. However, I do know that SAE members take to heart these words by John Walter Wayland:

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

The SAE members I met at CMU didn't merely talk about honor and virtue. They lived it. And they still do. No racists in Oklahoma can stop me from holding SAE members in high regard, particularly those whom I have had the privilege to know.


Michigan and Ohio Democratic Parties file joint SCOTUS brief in support of marriage equality

From Ye Olde Presse Shoppe:

“Here in Michigan, far too many families have been denied liberty and justice for too long, because of the out of touch actions of Republicans Bill Schuette and Rick Snyder,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.

"Thousands of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on frivolous, fringe arguments, which have only served to embarrass our state. This effort to deny equal rights to parents and children, based on nothing more than a desire to score cheap partisan points with the far right wing of the Republican party, is just wrong,” added Johnson.

Mark Totten, one of the attorneys who wrote the brief, said "for two years now the State of Michigan has argued that the children at issue in the Michigan case would be better off as orphans then have two gay parents. That's wrong. The rights of these kids - so many of whom are special needs – to have two loving parents should not be decided at the ballot box."

Here's the brief.


Get off your "both parties are the same" high horse already

Are the two parties REALLY the same? Are both parties REALLY equally to blame for Issue X or Problem Y? When voting, is it REALLY more virtuous to split your ticket than vote straight ticket?

Come on.

Just last week, Scott Walker compared protestors to ISIS. A Nevada lawmaker likened to a fungus that can simply be washed out. An Idaho lawmaker suggested that women need to swallow cameras before having an abortion. A Kansas lawmaker said she wants to criminalize ‘harmful’ books.

All in one week.

All Republicans.

And odds are, none of them will pay any sort of price within their party. If anything, they might get rewarded. Rewarded!

In today's Republican Party, decent people are being pushed out* while the far-right are being elevated.** Heck, Ronald Reagan would be considered much too liberal for many Republicans today.

Gerald Ford? Dwight Eisenhower? Don't even think about it.

Are Democrats perfect? Hell no! I get that, as do most Democrats. We're human beings, we make mistakes, etc. But I'll take the imperfections of our Party, our candidates, and our elected officials any day of the week - especially if that day is a Tuesday in early November.

*See: Lugar, Dick; see also: Schwarz, Joe.**See: Agema, Dave; see also: Glenn, Gary.