Impeachment, FTDR, and Jonathan Oosting on the budget battle

October 7, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, October 7, 2019

  In this episode:

  • Impeachment. Seriously, new day, new stuff.
  • Michigan budget. Shutdown avoided. Republicans get Republican'd.
  • Updates on the status of our roads and bridges
  • Interview: Jonathan Oosting, Michigan politics reporter for Bridge Michigan
  • … and the rest of the Michigan news
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Impeachment. Seriously, new day, new stuff.

Michigan budget. Shutdown avoided. Republicans get Republican'd.

'There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m optimistic that my partners in the #MiLeg will also realize that if we build a stronger Michigan for everyone, we must do it together' ~ @GovWhitmer @Freep #MiBudgetClick To Tweet

Updates on the status of our roads and bridges

Roads get spotlight, but 447 Michigan bridges in serious condition or worse ~ @LindsayVanHulle @BridgeMichigan #FTDR Click To Tweet
'We must support innovative policies, increase state funding, prioritize public health and safety, and be informed and vocal advocates for infrastructure. ' ~ ~ Michigan section of @ASCETweets #FTDR #MiLeg #MiBudgetClick To Tweet

Bridge Michigan interactive map

Interview: Jonathan Oosting, Michigan politics reporter for Bridge Michigan

'Even if (#MiLeg) leadership doesn't want to jump right into the negotiations, again, I think rank and file lawmakers are going to want to see some action to help their districts in the near future' ~ @jonathanoosting #MiBudgetClick To Tweet
As a constant member of the #MiLeg minority @GovWhitmer had to be good at throwing verbal bombs and has continued to do so a little bit as governor, maybe rubbing some #MiLeg lawmakers in office now the wrong way. ~ @jonathanoosting #MiBudget Click To Tweet
.@GovWhitmer and #MiLeg ldrs @SenMikeShirkey and @LeeChatfield didn't talk to each other for 3 weeks, which suggests things were really icy ~ @jonathanoosting #MiBudget Click To Tweet
It's a realistic possibility that we will end up with a petition drive to #FTDR ~ @jonathanoosting #MiBudget @GovWhitmer @mi_republicans @MiSenate @MiHouseDems @MiSenateDemsClick To Tweet
. @rstudley of @michamber has already told @MiGOP #MiLeg that if they aren't willing to support a user fee they might not get #MichiganCoC support ~ @jonathanoosting #FTDR Click To Tweet
If a graduated income tax gets on the ballot, it would be successful ~ @jonathanoosting #MiLeg @GovWhitmer #FTDR #MiHouseDems @MiSenateDems Click To Tweet

… and the rest of the Michigan news

'James says he supports the president “2,000 percent,” and in the Senate, he would help Trump be successful.' ~ @Ingrid_Jacques @DetroitNews @JohnJamesMI @GaryPeters Click To Tweet
“Even with @RealDonaldTrump struggling in Michigan, @JohnJamesMI 2000% support for the president was on full display” ~ @ajapko @MichiganDems Click To Tweet



Walt Sorg 0:44
It was a bad week for Donald Trump well on his way to impeachment, after providing it written proof of pressure Ukraine to help his reelection and then doubling down by asking China to pitch in as well. The polls show his approval rating in an all-time low. The whistleblowers are coming out in droves and CNN initially refused to run to his campaign ads because they're filled with lies. It just to make things worse, Rachel Maddow his new book Blowout is the top-selling book on Amazon. Not that Trump reads books but he knows about books that sell. This is the Michigan Policast. I'm Walt Sorg.

Christine Barry 1:15
I'm Christine Barry. The governor sets a record by vetoing 147 different items in the Republican legislators' budget plan. And the GOP still doesn't have a plan that will fix the damn roads.

Amy Kerr Hardin 1:27
I'm Amy Kerr Harden. at the center of the state's budget dispute is fixing our transportation system. And some newly released numbers on crumbling bridges are pretty scary.

Walt Sorg 1:36
And in a couple of minutes, we'll be joined by bridge magazine, state government reporter Jonathan Oosting who will try to make sense of the Battle of the budget. But first, does anyone have a question for the president of Finland?

Christine Barry 1:48
I'm guessing the president of Finland was asking himself how do I get out of here as he sat next to Trump in the Rose Garden last week. Things are moving fast. Two weeks ago, I predicted there was zero chance of Donald Trump being impeached, but like the climate, it heated up very quickly. Some people say up to 99%. I don't know. I'll believe it when I see it.

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:11
as an optimist who initially predicted 30% chance of impeachment. My read is that the house will impeach him. But they won't pay a political price for it. The guys over at pod save America did some polling that found respondents viewed the process favorably, if put in the context of constitutional due diligence, let's just hope that the House leadership gets that memo.

Walt Sorg 2:35
I get a daily email newsletter from the New York Times with what's supposed to be the latest on the impeachment story. But by the time it shows up in my inbox on the computer, there have been several new developments. They just can't keep up with the story. It keeps morphing and morphing and morphing, it seems on a daily basis, now he can he does new impeachable actions, and more evidence comes out on the Sunday talk shows that were just an absolute shit show. Watching the republicans doing a song and dance trying to justify their support for Trump without supporting what he actually did.

Christine Barry 3:07
Well, and now they're saying, Well, you can't believe what he said about China. So Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt, they are like he wasn't serious when he said that about China. And even Trump isn't trying to say he wasn't serious about what he said about China when he asked China to investigate the Biden's. So he's really putting the republicans in a bind, like you said, on the other hand, I did hear while I read in the hill, that Trump doesn't want impeachment on his resume, but he believes it's going to make Kevin Speaker of the House. So who knows what he's thinking. I don't know. This whole thing could make Nancy Pelosi the President of the United States. She's third in line right after Mike Pence first he throws Mike Pence under the bus, as you have to take a look at his phone conversations. Now he's trying to dump it on Rick Perry, which is really bizarre because I don't think Rick Perry did anything. On top of that. You've got both William bar the Attorney General The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo involved in it. This reminds me a lot of Watergate, the way that that developed, they ended up with like 40 people going to jail as a result of Richard Nixon's actions during the Watergate scandal, including his attorney general, his chief of staff, his domestic policy chief of staff in the White House, and dozens of others for both his campaign and the White House. It was absolutely amazing. And it seems like this is headed in the same direction

And big cheer goes up around the world.

Amy Kerr Hardin 4:30
Oh, goodness. Speaking of not keeping up with the changing news, that is also the description of what's happening with the state budget. Christine, as of Monday morning, where are we?

Christine Barry 4:41
Well, Governor signed all of the budgets just in time to avoid a state shutdown, which was one of her priorities. But before signing them, she vetoed 147 line items from those budgets. And as you know, the because we discussed it before on the show. The Republican budgets had some very specific cuts to various departments in order to increase money in roads and education that was really just, it was still a shell game. It was kind of driven by their branding purposes to say they made record-level investments without a 45 cent gas tax. And what Whitmer did was just say, no more shell games, we're not going to risk those cuts, and she vetoed them.

Walt Sorg 5:23
What I found interesting when she also said that I think 70 of the clauses in the budget bills were simply unconstitutional and unenforceable. It was sort of like signing statements that the presidents have used to say, well, you pass this law and I've signed up, but I'm not going to enforce it because it's unconstitutional.

Amy Kerr Hardin 5:38
And I found it interesting this morning, I saw that Michigan, capital confidential, grumbling about the cuts to charter schools, I'm saying that it's going to cut funding for students that are you know, living in poverty, basically as if they really give a crap about people living in poverty. So one of the groups that's complaining is They're losing in extra money $240 per pupil. I'm due to the line item veto. Christine, we've spoken extensively about charter schools, we've always circled back to the fact that charters don't have the same expenses in terms of benefit, cost and transportation. And most egregiously, they intentionally drive away special needs students by not offering decent programs for them.

Christine Barry 6:23
Well, that's the thing about charter schools. It is true that there are a lot of charter schools in urban areas that are getting hurt by this, but a lot of them, depending on the management company, are really siphoning off that extra money and dropping it into the companies that are the vendors for the schools. So when you say you have this kind of an increase per pupil, in a charter school, that looks very different from that same increase in a K 12. Public School.

Walt Sorg 6:52
It would really be useful. I think, Christine, if people took a look back at the series, the free press two to three years ago on charter schools, and it's a very uneven story. There's some great charter schools in Michigan. But there's also some real thieves operating charter schools and other parts of Michigan. And with the relatively small amount of accountability to state government and the taxpayers that are funding, this is something that really calls out for reform. But you got Betsy DeVos has been the champion of this along with the Mackinac Center, which publishes the Capitol confidential, and they're really pushing hard, basically to privatizing education system that has been free public education since the start of time.

Amy Kerr Hardin 7:31
And I think it's pretty clear with the election of Governor Whitmer that the majority of people in Michigan do not want that kind of agenda. I mean, it's pretty clear that Michigan wants to invest in public schools. That was one of the things that Governor Whitmer made up for as a priority. Bill Schuette, he ran on cuts.

Walt Sorg 7:48
And it's also clear that the governor even though she won't admit it, targeted a lot of Republican pet projects with her line item vetoes, which is exactly what she should have done. If you want to apply pressure to somebody, you go after things. They like, rather than redoing things you like, although there were some items that she took out of the budget that I'm sure she totally supports. But she had to send a message that this budget simply is a mess. And we've got to go back and really fix it.

Christine Barry 8:13
And you know, one of the points I made on Twitter this morning, actually, was that there's so many people saying, you know, she went after like, she doesn't value rural areas, because she targeted these rural areas just to get back at Republicans. That's not at all what it was, as you said, it was a matter of applying leverage in the right place to get those legislators back to the table. But beyond that republican area, well, I'll just say red areas, rural areas have been disproportionately represented for decades in the Michigan government. If you look at any map, whether it's county or House District or Senate District, you will see that the red is where the land is. There's a few exceptions UP in that sometimes, but the red is where the land is the blue is where the people is, and yet because of these political constructs that have been built in our Government, the red area has more representation than the blue area. And the Republicans in the legislature that represent those areas always target urban programs. They target the poor, they target where they think the elite liberals are always.

Walt Sorg 9:16
That is one of the problems that we're looking at us. We've got a legislature that is controlled by the party that got fewer votes than the party that sit in the minority, because of gerrymandering, and that, of course, is coming to an end in 2022. But until that happens, the governor is going to deal with the legislature controlled by the minority party, at least in the senate throughout her first term, and in the house unless they can flip four districts in the 2020 election. She's got a republican house as well, because of gerrymandering,

Christine Barry 9:43
and the Republican House is republican for the third election in a row simply because of gerrymandering.

Walt Sorg 9:49
Probably the best place to keep up with this budget Kabuki match in Lansing is the online publication Bridge. Bridge is the product of the nonprofit nonpartisan center for Michigan. It's been named Michigan's newspaper of the Year for four consecutive years. The latest addition to the reporting staff is Jonathan hosting who formerly covered state government for the Detroit news. I talked with Jonathan at the end of last week about the posturing and policy differences between the Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer and the republican run legislature.

Jonathan, the previous budget debates that you covered where one party operations you had a Republican governor and a Republican legislature things went pretty smoothly. Now there is a new sheriff in town. Is it hopeless? Or is this just a matter of both sides kind of feeling out the other side?

Speaker 10:34
Well, I think they've certainly taken the dispute about as far as it can go. But yeah, I mean, I'm guessing there's going to be some sort of a resolution here. I think there will be a supplemental spending bill that they'll eventually agree on. I think there's just too much at stake for both sides to let some of the governor's veto his stand. And of course, the governor has some demands. He wants to be part of that process as well. But I mean, some of the things she vetoed would really make a big impact in a lot of Republican lawmaker districts. So even if leadership doesn't want to jump right into the negotiations, again, I think rank and file lawmakers are going to want to see some action to help their districts in the near future.

Walt Sorg 11:20
After 16 years, really, of governors who had very little previous experience with government, in the case of Rick Snyder, no experience at all. We've got somebody who's got a lot of experience. And I've seen people comparing her in style, at least, to john Engler who was a master at using all the levers of power in the governor's office. And Whitmer learned from him.

Speaker 11:40
Yeah, I mean, I think that's probably the most accurate parallel and of course, she used a power that he helped discover and is the only other governor ever to use, which is using the administrative board to shift funds around within departmental budgets. So certainly she is I think, taking a cue from him. And some of the maneuvers he was able to make I think one difference, of course, is that the governor's entire tenure in the legislature, she served in the minority. So she was, you know, it was certainly has a lot of legislative experience, but it was always sort of boxed in a corner in some respects. You know, and as a constant member of the minority she was, had to be good at throwing verbal bombs, and has continued to do so a little bit as governor, I think maybe that's rubbed some of the lawmakers who are in office now the wrong way. So not necessarily all of that experience totally applicable here or necessarily a great characteristic to bring to the table. But certainly she knows those levers and she's pulled a lot of them and in a pretty unprecedented fashion here in the last week.

Walt Sorg 12:47
Sometimes the press releases that come out of both sides are more posturing than anything else trying to establish a position and the body language is a lot different. As you see the two sides as you talk with the two sides. What's Feel that you get or is there a willingness to come together? Or is this something that could last for a while?

Speaker 13:05
I think right now, it could last a little while, I think there's going to be some impetus to really get something done by the end of the year. That's when a lot of these vetoes will really start to impact local governments. For instance, I wrote yesterday about the secondary road patrol grant money, that's not really going to hit counties until the start of their fiscal year, which is the new year. So there's some time to negotiate that but I think as we get closer to that both sides are going to have more of an impetus to get back to the table that said, you know, they hadn't talked for three weeks, the governor and GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, that's suggests, you know, things really were icy, as opposed to for instance, the way the governor often work with Randy Richardville, the former Senate Majority Leader, when she was minority leader in the Senate, they would throw you know, verbal jabs publicly but then, you know, go behind closed doors and have congenial discussions. That process broke down this month, last month between the governor and the current legislative leaders in a way that, you know, we haven't seen in a while here. So, certainly there, they did meet yesterday but didn't discuss the budget much from all accounts. So it's good that they are at least talking again, that raises the, you know, the likelihood that they'll eventually get back on the same page, but they're certainly not there yet.

Walt Sorg 14:32
What about disruption in the executive branch? There are some programs, for example, the Michigan tourism program has been completely wiped out, at least temporarily. Are those people being laid off? What are they going to do in the interim? We have to assume that some of that money is going to be restored.

Speaker 14:48
Yeah, I think that's the expectation. From what I've heard. I mean, a lot of the spending is actually to reserve air time and stuff like that. And from what I understand, the state has already done that again through the end of the year, you know, money spent on advertising, those buys have already been made. So I don't think we're going to see an immediate impact. The MEDC still has, you know, operational funding. So I don't think there's going to be immediate layoffs there. Certainly the governor, you know, by signing these bills without, but, you know, wanted to avoid a shut down at all costs and didn't want to force any temporary layoffs. And it's my understanding there aren't going to be any immediately. But again, if this drags on for several more months, that becomes a more realistic probability that some of these programs do actually, you know, run out of resources and really lose the ability to do anything.

Walt Sorg 15:43
I saw some talk from the Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey about actually rebating the billion dollars that she has vetoed to the taxpayers and form of a tax cut which of course the governor would veto is senator Shirky serious about this or is he just throwing this out there to make life interesting.

Speaker 15:59
I think really Republican lawmakers are probably obligated to at least throw that idea on the table to remain true to their brand. I don't think anybody thinks that's a realistic possibility right now. But you know, it sounds good right now. You know, it's a public relations battle, and in some respects for both sides and for Republicans who are trying to make the case that this dispute is all the governor's fault, you know, and make sense for them to say publicly Well, you know, we're fine with those cuts, the governor should just give all that money back to taxpayers. Realistically, though, as I mentioned, a lot of these vetoes would hit districts and hit lawmakers in the majority party in a way that they don't want to happen. So it's fostering for now, I don't think that's a realistic possibility.

Walt Sorg 16:50
At the heart of the whole dispute, of course, is transportation funding and fixing the damn roads. The governor campaigned on it, she won on that issue. Senator Shirkey as indicated yes we do need more money for that. But really they haven't come up with a plan to do that. That involves anything other than shifting money around. What are the prospects or we can end up with a petition drive on the part of the governor to just take it directly to the people?

Speaker 17:12
That's a realistic possibility. Yeah. And it's something that, you know, the Republican leadership did bring three sort of broad outline to the governor when they were still negotiating road funding. One of those options was did include a ballot component, sort of a proposal A style, one or the other. You know, like maybe the legislature says, here's one way to fix the roads, but if the public wants to approve, for instance, a sales tax increase or something to that effect will give them the chance to pick an alternative option. I think that's one likely scenario, listen, the governor obviously wants to get this done. legislatively. We saw what happened with proposal one of 2015 when it was just a, you know, a tax and spend proposal essentially that went on the ballot and went down in flames. So it's a high-risk proposition to go to the ballot. The governor wants to get it done with the legislature, but she said way back on the campaign trail, that a ballot initiative was always going to be her backup plan, or, you know, at the time she was saying ask the voters to approve bonding, and that was her idea for about proposal. What that potential proposal looks like could certainly change. But yeah, that's definitely a realistic possibility. Well, Senate Majority Leader Shirky has said he's open to some new tax revenue, probably not much. And House leadership has not given any indication that they're willing to do any new revenue yet. So the governor is going to have a hard time getting 2.5 billion.

Walt Sorg 18:45
And really the third player in the room is the business community, the state Chamber of Commerce, the greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce, business leaders for Michigan. They all want money raised for the roads to get them fixed. But my sense is they also want that money raised primarily from individuals enough from businesses? Are they going to be ramping things up to move the republicans? Are they going to sit on the sidelines?

Speaker 19:09
You know, honestly, I don't know how they could ramp things up that much. They've already, you know, Rich Studley from the Michigan chamber has already in not so subtle terms, and that if Republicans aren't willing to support a user fee is they put it for roads that they might not get chamber support. Obviously, I guess one alternative option could be you know, it does suggest they're going to fund primary challengers. But I don't know if they're willing to go that far. You know, the chamber has already pulled several levers to try and put pressure on the GOP lawmakers and it hasn't really had any impact yet. So I imagine they're going to continue making their case but it hasn't proved successful so far.

Walt Sorg 19:50
One other possibility initial polling shows and finally go into a graduated income tax and Michigan has a substantial majority support, of course nobody's campaigning against it, it has lost in the past a couple of times on the ballot. Is there any serious talk of maybe floating a petition drive to do that?

Speaker 20:07
Apparently there's chatter out there. You know, I've talked to some folks who have been talking about this idea for years, and they say they think it's a more realistic probability than it has been in the past. Of course, you've always got to get somebody to fund the ballot initiative, notwithstanding the voters not politicians proposal, which collected all those signatures before they got lots of outside funding. For the most part, you know, you need some some big money up front generally to pull off a successful petition drive, and it remains to be seen who would be willing to fund that campaign.

Walt Sorg 20:40
If you've got the governor behind the door, raising $5 million is not that hard. She could raise the money overnight.

Speaker 20:46
I think if it gets on the ballot, certainly it would, it would be successful. And you know, having the governor push it would certainly perhaps compel Republican lawmakers to start thinking about alternatives. You know, we've seen obviously with the minimum wage and so on that as soon as you have a realistic shot at getting something at the ballot, that can lead to further negotiations. So I've heard it floated a lot more seriously than it has been in the past. But I'm not sure if that's just an attempt to try and scare Republican lawmakers right now and to doing something.

Walt Sorg 21:19
And also screw the chamber.

Speaker 21:21
Sure, of course,

Walt Sorg 21:23
Jonathan hosting from bridge magazine. Thank you so much, and thanks for all the good work that bridge does as well. It is our first source for information on state policy and read it every morning.

Speaker 21:33
All right, thanks. Walt

Walt Sorg 21:34
my thanks to Jonathan hosting and congratulations to him and his wife Sarah Malkoff on their marriage two weeks ago. I highly recommend subscribing to bridge just go to to sign up. It is journalism at its very best.

Christine Barry 21:54
Amy, you have been looking closely at the ongoing crisis with the roads and the bridges including some new data on the sorry and dangerous state of our bridges?

Amy Kerr Hardin 22:04
Bridge magazine published a study of on Michigan's bridges, and it paints a scary picture. As a side note, Walt, I too am a fan of bridge magazine. And they put out in depth long form journalism, which is really rare to find these days. They found that one in 10 of Michigan's 11,100 bridges are read at poor to failing, with profoundly disturbing structural conditions. That's nearly 500 bridges. You can find an interactive map in our show notes indicating where those bridges are and to find out whether you're driving over them every day, Michigan bridges or 10th worst in the nation, and much worse than surrounding states. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers are not big foresight and long term planning. Michigan will need up to a billion dollars over the next five years just to keep ahead of the deteriorating bridges. I think it's safe to say that Michigan's term limits play a significant role in this funding problem. These lawmakers aren't there long enough to be held accountable.

Walt Sorg 23:08
You know, it's interesting when you talk about these filling bridges until one actually collapses and people die. It seems like nobody pays attention. One of my very good friends, in fact, he, his father was best man at our wedding. Many years ago, he and his family live in Minneapolis. And at the time of the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, he lived four blocks away from that bridge. And he told me later that he had passed under that bridge, about two hours before it collapsed. And he felt like he was lucky to be alive. when something like that happens. You spring into action. The state of Minnesota immediately put in an emergency program to deal with their bridges. I fear that's what it's going to take in Michigan to get this legislature off of its but

Christine Barry 23:48
I don't think that will even do it. I really depends on where the bridge is. I really just think that we're so entrenched in partisanship right now. And term limits that I'm not sure, that would even do it.

Okay, some quick notes from around the state first of all Bill Schuette, he won't be running for the Supreme Court. After all, he decided to help Trump with Israel action. And I think he's going to be doing some work with House Republicans trying to make sure they maintain their majority in the House.

Walt Sorg 24:22
I'm not sure he was ready for the beating of another campaign. He knew he would be targeted by the Democratic Party. He knows what the Democratic Party has done in the past and Supreme Court races for high visibility candidates going back to former Chief Justice Cliff Taylor, who was absolutely destroyed by the Democratic Party many years ago and ultimately lost Plus he would be running as a non incumbent which is always a crapshoot, knowing full well the Chief Justice Bridget McCormick was running as an incumbent she would definitely be number one, so it was going to be a battle to be number two, and he wasn't real optimistic about I sense that at the age of 65, he's finally decided I've had enough with elective office.

I got the impression

Christine Barry 25:01
He just had his age did not want to run another statewide campaign, he came off probably what he considers a successful tenure as attorney general, obviously didn't get the governorship that he wanted. But now he can go on and be the elder statesman of the Michigan Republican party and just kind of, I don't want to say relax, but enjoy that rather than run another campaign.

Walt Sorg 25:23
And also in political news. This week, Alyssa Slotkin finally has an opponent. It's the Republican National Committee. They've managed to recruit one candidate to run against the popular Slotkin and the formerly republican eighth district. She is Nikki Snyder, and if that name doesn't ring a bell, you aren't alone. Snyder. No relation to the former governor was elected to the State Board of Education in 2016. Barely. She currently doesn't even live in the eighth district potentially probably will move into the district if she's elected. Another name was added over the weekend. Howell car salesman Mike Detmer, both of them are running on a pro-Trump Trump didn't do anything wrong platform. Both of them are sadly underfunded at this point. Although the Republican National Committee has already started running ads against Slotkin. Slotkin, meanwhile, has raised a boatload of money. Trump won the district by seven points in 2016. The GOP is banking on the dubious proposition that he's still popular in the eighth district, slotted last quarter raised $800,000. She has $1.65 million sitting in her campaign bank account. So she's in good shape of politically right now, and I've got to say is one of her constituents she really works hard. anytime Congress isn't in session, which includes weekends during session weeks. She's back in the district doing event she will do 2-3-4 events a day. And it's like she's working 10 days a week. She is constantly meeting with constituents. And unlike Mike Bishop, she doesn't run away from the opposition. She's had some town halls already post impeachment inquiry, and she has not been afraid to talk to the people that oppose the inquiry into Donald Trump's misdeeds.

Christine Barry 26:59
She's got the credentials, I think to do that, though, to stand in front of them and say look at my background, as you know, in national security. This is what I think. And like we talked about last week, she did not run on impeaching Trump. You know, it's not the same thing as Rashida Tlaib going into a town hall meeting and

Walt Sorg 27:17
she didn't run as a raving partisan at all. She ran as a pragmatic progressive, who listens to all sides and talks all so he picked up a lot of suburban Republican votes in Oakland County, and that was the difference for

Christine Barry 27:29
but look at these people who are going to be running against her. They are rabid partisan, I shouldn't say rabid that's that's rude. But they are very they have very partisan positions are talking about banning abortion. So they're talking about cutting business and income taxes in Michigan. Oh, my God, more cuts. No.

Walt Sorg 27:48
They also talk about fiscal responsibility, which is hilarious because they support the Trump tax cuts as well. And the two just don't really go together.

Christine Barry 27:55
You mentioned that Trump had won that district but in 2018 Whitmer took it and Stabenow took it. I don't know how well that would play. I mean, we had voter turnout that we might not have next time.

Walt Sorg 28:08
Well, a lot of it was the turnout in Ingham County for Slotkin. She worked very hard and the Michigan State University campus, and of course Aiken county is the home county for both Debbie Stabenow and Gretchen Whitmer, which certainly impacted the vote as well.

Amy Kerr Hardin 28:21
Michigan's Democratic Party is taking aim at the republican senate candidate John James, the long-shot candidate challenging Gary Peters next year, the party has been sending out a nonstop blizzard of news releases and social media post about James the latest touting media polls showing James getting trounced by Peters

Christine Barry 28:41
A new MIRS/ Target insight poll found that failed Senate candidate John James's campaign, and his record of supporting President Trump 2,000% isn't gaining traction in Michigan again. The boy has James trailing senator Gary Peters 53 to 37 a 16 point gap that has grown since the last survey in April, Peters also leads with independence by 25 points 44% to 19%. Another dramatic shift that shows how James is 2,000% support for Trump is hurting him with swing voters

Walt Sorg 29:13
and you're going to be hearing the 2,000% support for Trump time and time again. Trump and Pence have both been very vocal about their support for john James under they think the mistaken belief that Trump and Pence are popular in Michigan, when in fact Trump I think it's 10 points upside down right now in the latest polling in the state, and probably going downhill is this impeachment thing goes on. I feel in a way I feel bad for john James. He seems like a really decent guy politically, I can't agree with him at all. But he has just got this huge orange albatross around his neck and it's going to take him right down again.

Christine Barry 29:46
He probably should have started in something statewide. That's what I think built up. Yeah, a little bit more of a resume.

Walt Sorg 29:53
Well, there's talk about it running against Haley Stevens for Congress. And that actually would have made more sense because republicans desperately Need a good candidate in Oakland County that used to be a solidly red county and now all of their members of Congress are Democrats. And that is got to worry the party a lot. They talk about McComb county being the bellwether in Michigan. As we mentioned with Mike Murphy several weeks ago, I think more and more Oakland and Grand Traverse counties are the bellwether, because those are the two counties that are really going from red to purple and possibly even you could call them blue counties now,

Amy Kerr Hardin 30:25
yes, I'm really hoping Grand Traverse flips to blue.

Walt Sorg 30:27
One other political development this week that I saw in the news involves you Amy, at least indirectly. A recall campaign has started against your state representative. I know you're you're heartbroken over the thought of losing Larry Inman.

Amy Kerr Hardin 30:40
Yeah, they need I believe it's 12,000 signatures. And

Walt Sorg 30:45
They should be able to get that in an afternoon.

Amy Kerr Hardin 30:48
Well, they got 1000 signatures on the first day or so. The only reason he's hanging on I'm sure is because his attorney is telling him to do so.

Walt Sorg 30:57
I know you've got a lot of activists up there for voters, not politicians. We had a really strong cadre of volunteers in the Grand Traverse area. I suspect a lot of them are thinking we need to have a state representative who's not a crook,

Amy Kerr Hardin 31:08
yes there and also someone that can actually represent them. Because he's been, you know, shut out of the caucus. He apparently can't even have contact with his staff. So all he can do is just show up on the floor and cast a vote.

Walt Sorg 31:22
Speaking of having staff at all that and being effective on the floor. One final note, a shout out to our speaker of the house Lee Chatfield, who told my state representative Kara Hope to take down a sign from her door, which basically declared in very polite language at her office was a gun-free zone. She didn't want people walking into her office with ar 15 because it made her staff and possibly other constituents uncomfortable. That made Lee Chatfield the guy who once got picked up in an airport for trying to get a gun onto an airplane that made him very uncomfortable. And as the dictator of the house he told her take the sign down with the implicit or else in his message

Amy Kerr Hardin 31:58
and that gun he was trying to get through the airport was loaded.

Christine Barry 32:02
That's nice. I'd like to think that he did that because he heard her on Michigan Policast at, and he didn't like what she had to say.

Walt Sorg 32:13
Nothing like a gratuitous plug.

The good folks at crooked media producers of the awesome pod save America podcast had been doing some intensive state by state polling in the battleground states. Their most recent polling was an Arizona state that has traditionally gone Republican. But at 2018 they elected a Democrat to the US Senate and now show up as a 50-50 proposition in the presidential campaign. What I love about the polling they do is it's message testing, figuring out which messages for your candidate and against the opponent are the most effective and they don't really worry about the horse race, but really, how do we go about campaigning? What was fascinating to me was that the it's about 5050 on impeachment right now. Nearly half of all voters favor impeaching from not having an inquiry, but actually impeaching them, and that the scandal is really hurting him. What do you think about some of the messages that they found with Trump that they really honed in on what's going to be the moat? There's some the problem with Trump is there's so many things you can say about him that are bad, that are true, that you've got to hone in on one. They made the point on their last podcast, that in the last campaign when people were asked what does Donald Trump stand for? It was make America great again. And when they said, Well, what does Hillary Clinton stand for? They had all sorts of answers because she didn't have a focus message. And that is really critical in a campaign. And it was the same on negatives to Hillary had all sorts of negatives against Trump and Trump's negatives against Hillary, crooked Hillary,

Amy Kerr Hardin 33:44
these guys, although they may be young, they're veterans and they really know what they're doing. And like you said, they really know what types of questions to ask and how to frame it. And hopefully the candidates are going to get behind that and listen to them and understand that and not necessarily They just listened to their inner circle of their campaign staff. Take a clue from these guys.

Walt Sorg 34:05
Yeah, we will have a link to the full survey on on our website. But a couple of the messages I thought were interesting in terms of a negative message against Trump, the one that came out the strongest was the Donald Trump's constant tweeting, nasty, insulted petty squabbles with everyone from politicians of both parties to America's allies are preventing us from making any progress instead of uniting us to solve big challenges. He's divided us for his own political gain. To me, that's a message that works best for Pete Buttigieg and for Amy Klobuchar, neither of whom was in the top tier. But it's still it's it's the strongest message, according to their polling, at least in Arizona, and I suspect Arizona and Michigan are very similar in terms of the polling.

Christine Barry 34:47
Well, it's the strongest in terms of all respondents but in terms of Republicans only it's the second most effective the most effective message among Republicans was. Donald Trump ran for office as a champion working people. But as President, he's given tax breaks to big corporations supported trade agreements that help big business and proposed cuts to health care and retirement benefits. That did well, with about 36%, which was the strongest support of any of those messages.

Walt Sorg 35:16
It's really it's interesting, as you look at this, it's almost like going to a really good buffet, and you can't decide what to eat first, because it all looks so good. And all of these messages look good against Trump, it's a matter of figuring out which one is going to be the best. And that's going to be a real battle. as things go on. Obviously, it's going to change a lot. But you're right about the the folks that pod save America, they're all veterans of the Obama administration, and had worked national campaigns before that for john kerry, among others. They really know what they're doing and I find their insights, really very helpful. recommend that people do take a look at this full poll. And, Christine, I'm sure you'll have you'll feature this on the website with with links into the poll.

Christine Barry 35:54
Yeah, absolutely. And one thing that I just want to point out that was significant was when it came to impeachment. The most effective message was that Congress needs to hold Trump accountable in order to ensure a fair and free election in 2020. Even if that meant impeachment and the response from the republicans versus the witch hunt, message, voters were more likely to support the Democratic candidate. If democrats stayed on that free and fair election in 2020 message and did not get into all of these other negative things about Trump but just stayed on the election message. I thought that that was really significant, and it's significant for Democrats who want to lash out at this guy because he's so horrible.

Walt Sorg 36:35
The other thing the polling found that I think was very important, the democrats take note of wasn't in terms of democratic policies, Arizona voters prefer a public option over Medicare for All. So that hurts both Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. I'm not exactly sure what she's for at this point. They support background checks over mandatory buybacks of guns and I think the only one with mandatory buyback right now is Beto O'rourke. And they oppose reparations, which is going to be a very, very sticky issue because of the impact that it might have on the African American vote.

Amy Kerr Hardin 37:07
And back to the impeachment issue. I think that the messaging that they're identifying gives republicans that voted for Trump and out there looking at it in terms of due diligence, doing the right thing, as opposed to, you know, hammering on Trump and people that voted for Trump,

Walt Sorg 37:23
and on Trump's side, the most effective messages related to the economy, jobs and economic growth, and he's managing and screw that up all by himself. It's really funny. It's like he wants to be defeated because his policies right now when it comes to trade or hurting the economy, and he's actually threatening to throw this country into a recession, because of his pigheaded attacks on trade, especially as it relates to China, but also as it relates to putting tariffs on products from our friends in Europe.

Amy Kerr Hardin 37:50
And I my understanding is that the trucking industry is already has slumped into a recession and, and that's um, you know, they're the canary in the coal mine in that particularly regard That's once once that happens, that's an indicator that all markets are also slumping.

Walt Sorg 38:06
And if he was being smart, which Donald Trump often is not when it comes to policy, he would sit down and work out a deal with Schumer and Pelosi on infrastructure, because that would instantly create hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs and pump a ton of money into the economy and actually be productive at the same time.

Christine Barry 38:22
Yeah, it's not gonna happen.

Amy Kerr Hardin 38:28
That's it for this week's MichiganPolicast. For more information on this week's topics, head on over to Michigan podcast com for links, videos, tweets, and maybe some

Christine Barry 38:38
no no cat GIFs.

But we do welcome your feedback. If you'd like to send us cat GIFs or anything else, you can reach us by email at mipodcast at gmail. com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Walt Sorg 38:53
And please take a moment to rate the podcast on iTunes that goes to Steve Jobs will thank you on behalf of Amy and Christine I'm Walt Sorg thanking you for taking time out of your life to listen

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