Trump, polls, ballot initiatives. Trevor Thomas w/Fair & Equal MI, Susy Avery & Steve Tobocman of MPLP

September 14, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, September 14, 2020

  In this episode:

  • New books and audio reveal Trump's “secret” awfulness
  • Trump, Biden campaign in Michigan
  • Gay bashing, petition drives, and the ongoing quest for equality
  • Political notes
  • Political ad of the week
  • The Michigan Political Leadership Program
  • Transcript



Jump to:

New books and audio reveal Trump's “secret” awfulness





The F.B.I. was “investigating a credible allegation of foreign intelligence activity to see where it led,” Mr. Strzok writes. “It started with Russia, and it was always about Russia.” ~Source




Trump, Biden campaign in Michigan


Nearly 61% of Michigan voters approve of Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak compared with 36% who disapprove, according to the poll.

The high ratings of her performance are all the more remarkable considering that only 52% of voters surveyed said they had a favorable impression of Whitmer. ~Source




Gay bashing, petition drives, and the ongoing pursuit of equality



“[Upton]’s trying to talk about civility while calling his opponent a pedophile and drug user,” Meloy said. “Upton could call an end to this immediately, but he’s let it go. He’s continued to let his staff and his lackeys continue spreading these lies about Jon Hoadley.” ~Source



You need 340,000 signatures, which means 450-500k signatures to be safe, and at our last count we were at 315k. We will collect a minimum of 460k and then we will turn them in at a date potentially around Oct 9 @TrevorThomasMI @FairandEqualMI Click To Tweet

Political notes



To be eligible for the program, an applicant must:

  • Be a Michigan resident
  • Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 — June 30
  • Have been required to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 — June 30
  • Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan
  • Complete a Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31




Political ad of the week


Runner up: Meidas Touch – Pretend President



Winner: DJT Has NPD: Donald Trump's Malignant Narcissism Exposed



The Michigan Political Leadership Program


'This is run through a major university, @MichiganStateU, and it is bipartisan. We have 12 @MichiganDems who come in as what we call our fellows, and we have 12 @MIGOP who come in as our fellows.' ~ Susy Avery #MPLP @IPPSR @MPLPMSUClick To Tweet
'#Michigan is a very diverse state, we have urban areas, #NativeAmerican tribes, rural areas, suburban areas. @MPLPMSU fellows travel and engage speakers from different communities around the state. ' ~ Steve Tobocman @MichiganStateU @IPPSR #MPLPClick To Tweet
'@MPLPMSU develops lifelong friendships and networks on both sides of the aisle that will be extremely useful for our graduates throughout their careers.' ~ Susy Avery @IPPSR #MPLP @MichiganStateU #MiLegClick To Tweet




Susy Avery and Steve Tobocman.  Source: IPPSR at MSU



Walt Sorg  00:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is progress Michigan, providing a strong, credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable and assists in the promotion of progressive ideas.


Donald Trump  00:15

I didn't lie. What I said is we have to be calm, we can't be panicked.


Gretchen Whitmer  00:19

The biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that's coming out of the head of state. The biggest threat to the American people. See American president right now.


Music  00:29

You cheated.  You lie. You say that you love me.


Walt Sorg  00:46

Donald Trump knew it. He understood it and he lied about it. sometime this week. The resulting death toll will reach 200,000. more than double the combined US military deaths in Vietnam, Korea and iraq war And it's at the center of the debate is the presidential campaign moves into Michigan. This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan policy and politics and the national currency impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt Sorg.


Christine Barry  01:12

I'm Christine Barry. Michigan is bracing for another COVID-19 infection spike as a result of Trump's super spreader campaign rally in Freeland while Joe Biden observes social distancing as he announces his plans to slow industrial outsourcing at a campaign appearance and Warren, Secretary of State Benson says Michigan's on track for a record number of absentee ballots, and we've got new polls that show little movement in candidate preference. Plus continuing support for governor Whitmer's response to the pandemic,


Walt Sorg  01:43

Michigan's future leaders may well get their start through unique political training program at Michigan State University. I'll talk with the bipartisan directors of the Michigan Political Leadership Program and we'll be joined by the head of a petition drive to add civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in Michigan. Despite the pandemic, the petition drive is on the verge of success. But Christine, my god on last week's pod, we've talked about Trump's very, very bad, horrible, terrible week. And this week, it was even worse. former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Stzrok released a book about the frightening ties between Trump world and Russia. The West Coast is burning down as climate change takes a huge toll. We've got another hurricane that is coming in on the Gulf Coast. a whistleblower charge that the administration is altering intelligence reports to back up Trump's political campaign. And the President's longtime personal attorney is releasing his book, which reveals a series of criminal acts by Trump including bank insurance and tax fraud. That's all one week. Yet all of these blockbuster stories overshadowed by Bob Woodward's tape of Trump, basically admitting he lied to the nation for months about the novel coronavirus.


Donald Trump  02:55

I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic.


Walt Sorg  03:02

It reminded me of the old Perry Mason TV show, where Perry Mason gets the actual murder to confess on the stand, especially what he did.


Christine Barry  03:11

Well, you know, good leadership does include not creating panics. I mean, he want to be able to manage things appropriately. But this wasn't about not creating a panic. This was just handled stupidly. There is a segment of people out there who believe that because panics are bad not wanting to cause a panic means that he handled everything well. And, you know, I would ask them to compare it to being in a building and there's a fire that started in the back. Do you want it you know, you don't want to cause a panic and have people swarm the doors or anything, but you don't tell them they could stay in the building because it's safe. You know, you just manage you manage it, and you make sure everyone gets out safely. And so I it's typical Trump to say I didn't want to cause a panic and make it act like it was a virtue or something.


Walt Sorg  04:00

Well the panic he didn't want to cause was on Wall Street. He didn't want the stock market to take because that's the whole basis for his reelection campaign is he's the great economy president and a panic he was concerned would tank Wall Street, which has done really well despite the pandemic, in part because of his cheerleading. But that hasn't kept 200,000 people from dying. It


Christine Barry  04:21

It messed up all the logistics for things like PPE and it was very difficult on our, on our medical community, and, you know, yeah, he's taking care of Wall Street for sure. But it does it sounds like he didn't want to create a panic with the people and that was just, I mean, like, what's going to happen if people panic you run out of toilet paper. I mean, that just, he just failed. You know what I'm saying?


Walt Sorg  04:45

I've been watching the Sunday shows and watching his people trying to justify and rewrite history to show what a great leader has been through all of this with the people aren't buying it's two to one, opposing the way he's handled us and the immediate reaction from Democrats. Across the nation, I think was more in keeping with the general public sentiment. Joe Biden happened to be in Michigan when the news broke and he rewrote his speech at the last second, so that when he started his speech in Warren, he talked about Donald Trump and his lies


Joe Biden  05:15

It was a life and death betrayal of the American people. Experts say that if he had acted just one week sooner, 36,000 people would have been saved. If he acted two weeks sooner, back in March 54,000 lives would have been spared in March and April alone. You know, his failure is not only cost lives, it sent our economy in a tailspin, it costs millions more in American livelihoods. This is a recession created by Donald Trump's negligence, and he is unfit for this job as a consequence of it.


Christine Barry  05:52

And Governor Whitmer called Trump the biggest threat to the American people.


Gretchen Whitmer  05:56

He knew then, and he purposefully downplayed it even said I wanted to Play it down. Experts say that if we'd acted just one week sooner as a nation, 36,000 people would have been saved two weeks sooner. 54,000 lives that would have been spared in March and April. And we know in Michigan 6552 people have died. I think this failure to act has led cost so many lives that have sent our economy into a tailspin. And I'll say it's just devastating to hear that when we've been working so hard to save lives, I'm as depressed about that news that came out of Washington DC in the last 24 hours I'm more determined than ever to make sure that we do get out of this and we get smarter and stronger every day that goes by.


Walt Sorg  06:44

And shortly after the news broke of the Bob Woodward book and all the quotes in the tapes, and he has to talk with one of the top Democrats in Congress. Flint's Dan Kildee


Dan Kildee  06:53

The outrage ought to be universal. And I call on my Republican colleagues in particular who by the way, just like us have constituents who have died I've had almost 500 people that I represent in Congress die from Coronavirus, 500 people, four close friends. And the idea that this President had in his hands the tools to do something about it, and has now been revealed through this reporting, that he chose a public relations strategy instead of a public health strategy to deal with Coronavirus. It's criminal. It's frightening and it ought to shake those remaining people who somehow believe that he can do no wrong it ought to shake their confidence in whatever confidence they placed in him because his decisions have consequences, human consequences, he put Americans at risk.


Walt Sorg  07:48

Is there anything that Congress can or should be doing at this point in response?


Dan Kildee  07:53

Well, Congress in the house anyway, we've been doing a lot. I mean, it was over 100 days ago, we passed a bill that would accelerate Testing would support state and local government that would give businesses and workers the support they need. In order to get us through this, we have tried to force this president to do what he is disinclined to do. And that is put the life and health of Americans first. Unfortunately, he has had a republican led Senate, that for reasons that are beyond my comprehension have chosen their loyalty to Donald Trump over their loyalty to the people that they work for. So we can do that. I think beyond that, though, we have an important oversight role. And I expect when we return next week, we're going to exercise that and get to the bottom of this. I guess, fortunately, in some ways, we've gotten to the bottom of it, because we have our star witness already on tape, acknowledging what he did. So in some ways, it would take us months normally to get those sorts of answers Donald Trump already turned himself in. And now I guess it's up to the American people to make their judgement.


Walt Sorg  08:56

What I find remarkable about all this, Christine, is that the poll are pretty much locked in the numbers don't seem to shift no matter what happens. It reminds me a little bit of the Access Hollywood situation four years ago, where nothing really changed Trump panic for a day or two, but the numbers didn't change. The only thing that really changed four years ago was the Hillary Clinton situation with Comey and everything that was released in the final week. But until then, the thing was pretty stable this time. There's just no movement at all.


Christine Barry  09:26

Yeah, I think that's why that undecided number that kind of hovers between six and 8% is really important, and that the efforts to expose information like this, and the efforts by people like Project Lincoln and Republican voters against Trump are going to be really important. They're not going to touch his base, his basis just locked in. But that small group of undecided people, they're going to make the difference.


Walt Sorg  09:51

The other difference from four years ago was who's on offense and who's on defense. Four years ago, Donald Trump was constantly on offense, attacking Hillary Clinton, mostly on the emails. But anything else she could come up with the Clinton Foundation, you name it. This time he's been on constant defense. And every day he's on defense. He's not closing the gap, because he's just trying to shore up his base and shore up what vote he's got. And he's running out of time the voting starts in Michigan, in less than two weeks. Early voting starts on the 24th absentee ballots will go into the mail on the 24th as well. And in a lot of states, the voting will be almost done by the middle of October.


Christine Barry  10:29

Well, and that's why he's shifted to that post-election strategy of trying to discredit the results. He's got to do something other than just win the election.


Walt Sorg  10:38

He already knows is going to lose the popular vote. I don't think there's anybody who thinks they'll win the popular vote. His key right now is drawing to that inside straight again, and pulling just enough electoral votes to win reelection, which makes Michigan so critical Pennsylvania, so critical Arizona, the other swing states but so far all the polling shows that This time through Donald Trump is trailing in each of the swing states. And like I say he's running out of time.


Christine Barry  11:07

And he has a narrow lead in in places like Texas and Georgia. So Joe Biden's got some ads reserved in those states, Donald Trump has to pour advertising money into those states because of that. So it's interesting to see There's a  cnn video, I think it was that I watched I have it in the show notes. So that talked about how there are 15 states in play right now that the campaigns are investing a bunch of money in. And this is the first time it's ever been that many, and they're not all leaning toward Biden. The ones that should be safe for Trump, like Texas and Georgia, are actually competitive.


Walt Sorg  11:43

And then as the late Tim Russert used to say there's Florida, Florida, Florida.


Christine Barry  11:52

Michigan took center stage in the presidential campaign during the week with both Biden and Trump campaigning in the state. First step was by And who used in appearance in Warren to announces plans to keep manufacturers from outsourcing work to other nations.


Joe Biden  12:07

We're going to impose a tax penalty on companies that avoid paying us taxes by offshoring jobs and manufacturing, only to sell those goods back to the American consumer. Your big corporate strategy is to boost your shareholders profits, your CEOs, bonuses by moving jobs out. Well, we're going to make sure not only pay full us taxes on those profits, we're going to add a 10% of showing penally surtax to your bill. No more deductions for writing off expenses for the cost of sending jobs overseas. That could be done here at home by qualified American workers. I'm not looking to punish American business, but there's a better way. Make it in Michigan. Make it in America invest in our communities and the workers in places like Warren


Walt Sorg  13:00

I think it's really critical for the Biden campaign that they've made this switch to really take Trump on on the economy. The polling shows consistently. That's the only issue where Trump has a chance of getting reelected is if people buy his economic argument that he's the person who can rebuild our economy. In this case, it was very simply a matter of Joe Biden going right into the heart of UAW territory, and appealing directly to those UAW workers and doing it just down the street from an auto plant that was shut down during the Trump administration, and was a demonstration of how the Trump promises simply weren't true. A day later, the Trump roadshow held an airport rally in Freeland, outside of Saginaw. Trump spoke for more than an hour. I think it was about an hour and 15 minutes his rambling went on the tarmac of the airport. Of course, it was a COVID-19 festival with a lot of people packed shoulder to shoulder with very few masks, and he told so many lies, we really can't even get into all the fact checking, but the biggest one was that It made me laugh It was so outrageous was that he's the guy who saved the auto industry.


Donald Trump  14:05

The United States lost 500 Auto and auto parts factories under the Obama Biden disaster. Before the virus, my administration added over 200 new auto and auto parts plants in 2007. How about 200? I didn't know that. 200 I thought it was a little less than that. But I want to see that again. 200 It says 200 you believe that?


Walt Sorg  14:39

Yeah, there's a lot that's a lot of bullshit is what it is. He even repeated what one of my favorite lies. He lies about the small stuff, too. And he's repeated this one multiple, multiple times. And it's even the people who were there say it's a total lie.


Donald Trump  14:53

I was honored in Michigan. Does anybody know that? I was given Man of the Year Award by somebody.


Walt Sorg  14:59

He was he Given a Man of the Year Award, in fact, the person who gave them the little plaque, when he showed up to speak, was now former congressman David Trott, and he says he wasn't the man of the year. But that's just the small one that will have links on the website, to all of the false claims that he made. There was a lot of fact checking going on. And on top of that, just to show what snowflakes these people are the New York Times political reporter who was at the rally, Kathy gray, was thrown up by Trump's security people.


Christine Barry  15:31

Yes, she she put out on Twitter that they tracked her down from her coverage on Twitter. You know, she had been tweeting pictures and, you know, commentary and then tweeted, I've just been kicked out, which is the first. The fact of the matter is she had trouble getting her press credentials. So she was working in the general area, but it's a silly thing to kick somebody out for. I mean, I'm not I'm not a political reporter. That's a career I don't know much about So,


Walt Sorg  16:01

What's the difference between being locked up in the press pen and being out with the people other than maybe they might actually talk to some of the people who are at the rally. And Kathy gray is one of the most respected political reporters in the Midwest. She worked for years for the free press, graduate of Michigan State University recently moved over to the New York Times. And for her to be thrown out. She was it was funny, I was following her twitter feed in real time. And she was just aghast of the whole thing she thought it was. I think she was a little amused by it as much as anything else.


Christine Barry  16:31

Yeah, I agree. And, and she explained that they told her that because she was using her professional Twitter account. That's why she had to, had to go. She couldn't use her professional Twitter account while she was in the general public area or something. It was silly.


Walt Sorg  16:48

Yeah, like this president worries about the difference between a personal Twitter account and the professional ones


Christine Barry  16:54

seriously. Well, let's take a look at some of the latest polling in Michigan. We still have small leads for Joe Biden and Senator Gary Peters. This group of polls, a wall is so interesting to me. The first one, the Hodas Michigan poll. That one is really interesting because of the way that it breaks down everything. And you can see that the people with post grad degrees feel very strongly unfavorably toward Trump. They say that the country's going in the wrong direction. But when it comes to Gary Peters and john James, about 8.8% of them are undecided. It still breaks down though, to about 60 30%. If you're just looking at post grad, so it's really interesting to see that that particular demographic has really strong feelings in favor of Biden and Gary Peters.


Walt Sorg  17:45

Yeah, the numbers though, are tightening up the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in Michigan, has the Biden spread down to 4.2%. Now of the most recent polling from CNBC plus six Rasmussen is a republican leading poll normally has Biden up at the Detroit News plus five, and then Trafalgar is a real outlier. And that was a poll that was taken in August actually shows Trump winning in Michigan, I think Trafalgar is proving themselves to be totally unreliable. on the Senate side, you've got pretty much the same number as Gary Peters with a small but consistent lead over john James as both of them really ramp up their advertising. JOHN James continues to say nothing on the issues. His ads are completely about attacking Gary Peters and defending himself from the attacks from Gary Peters. And so far, john James hasn't run an attack ad yet that hasn't been totally demolished by the fact checkers. Gary Peters has also been criticized for some of the things he said about John James as well. It has not been exactly a highlight of the political history in this campaign, what they're saying about each other. The Real Clear Politics average of the most recent polls has Gary Peters with a three and a half percent lead which would be within the mark margin of error. For most of these polls, CNBC add them up by four Rasmussen and by eight of the Detroit News by three, we've got a whole slew of polls, we can put links to all of them on the webpage so that people can take a look at them. It's getting to the point, though, where these polls actually mean something, because we're getting close to the voting.


Christine Barry  19:18

Yeah, yeah, I agree with there were a couple of interesting things. When you looked at the individual polls that went into the Real Clear Politics average. For example, CNBC Change Research poll, you had both James and Peters outperforming Trump and Biden. And it was just by by one for Gary Peters because Biden's at 49%. And Peters was at 50. But Trump was at 43. And James was at 46. I thought that was kind of interesting. That was the only poll I found where the Senate candidates were outperforming the presidential The Detroit News poll used Glengariff Group, which, according to 538, has a democratic bias, a small democratic bias. And that one showed the smallest Democratic leader of all of them Biden plus five Peters plus three. So some interesting stuff when you dig into it. I have links to all of this as well as the 538 ranking of pollsters. So you can dig into these different polling companies and see what the 538 analysis is.


Walt Sorg  20:22

One thing we do know for sure about the election is going to be a huge turnout. More than 2 million people in Michigan have already applied for absentee ballots, which is already a record. And it's just going to grow as we get closer and closer to the election. As I mentioned earlier, early voting starts next week on the 24th was when you can go to your clerk's office and actually cast your ballot on the 24th or you can wait for it to show up in the mail if you've applied for an absentee ballot. Meanwhile, Jocelyn Benson is cleaning up a mess that was left to her by Ruth Johnson, the previous Secretary of State Bennett is saying now that as many as a half million people Could be removed from the qualified voter list because they've died they've moved or otherwise are ineligible to vote in Michigan. Now, that is a huge number to clean up. But it's in large part, it's because she mailed out all those absentee voter applications for the primary and get a whole bunch of them back. And the ones that came back, they could follow up on with the local clerk's.


Christine Barry  21:23

Yeah, and that's what that's what everybody wants is for that list to be cleaned up and modernized. But Jocelyn Benson is doing a really good job. beefing up the credibility I think of our qualified voters list. So I'm really happy about that. That was one thing I wanted to mention was when we talked about how we've had more absentee ballots requested and we had a huge turnout and whatnot. Back in the primary. Our County's turnout was 30.6%. This is Shiawassee County. It was so exciting for me because I've been watching this for years. And we're usually between 10 and 20% turnout in a primary part of that is because it's when we have our Shiawassee. County Fair people just don't go vote.


Walt Sorg  22:10

We don't have county fairs anymore


Christine Barry  22:11

Not this year we didn't. And maybe that's why we got 30% of the people voting, but I was so happy to see that we never broke that before, as far as I know, and I've been watching it for way too many years.


Walt Sorg  22:21

A couple things on absentee ballots. First of all, a lot of local clerks are putting out ballot drop boxes, additional boxes around their community, so people who can find it easier to vote here in Lansing, our city clerk is putting drop boxes at all the fire stations and adding to the two that already existed at City Hall. And then there's a secondary City Hall office where the clerk actually has his office, but I think now they've got 1213 of them around the city of Lansing. And he's actually hiring somebody to clean those boxes out every day, beginning September 24 so that the ballots don't sit in there. Also, Mike Shirkey has admitted that the legislature He may allow the legislature to actually give the clerk's the ability to start processing votes before the polls close on Election Day, because of all the absentee ballots, and he's getting a lot of pressure from the local clerks to give them the ability to start processing earlier so that the results aren't delayed as much. And there's a possibility at least that might happen.


Christine Barry  23:22

One more thing if all of these ballot boxes that are being put out these drop boxes will have a link to the state's list of where those are. And you might also check with your county clerk or your city clerk to see where the boxes are. I'll have a link on the site the state lists.


Walt Sorg  23:44

Michigan's COVID infection rate and death toll continue to inch upwards in large part because college students are coming back to campuses and parties at Michigan State University. The county public health officer has asked all students to quarantine at the university Because of the spike in cases there, now about 400 positive cases being reported. Fortunately, the University of Michigan not having that problem yet, but they've also had major outbreaks and some of the other schools, most notably Central Michigan University. But as these numbers start to edge back up the petition drive to take away the governor's power to fight the pandemic appears to be succeeding. They need 340,000 valid signatures on petitions in order to get the issue in front of the legislature or the legislature can then repeal the emergency powers act and basically take away the governor's power. they've collected 400,000 signatures so far with a goal of 500,000. And they do have a lot more time to do it. They've only been out in the field for two months, and they've actually got six months to collect all the signatures.


Christine Barry  24:46

Well, they'll probably get to 500,000 and then they will submit it. Where does it go from there? Well, it goes before the board


Walt Sorg  24:54

it goes to the State Board of canvassers which has to certify that there are adequate signatures, valid signatures and maintenance. Send it to the legislature. Now the wrinkle in all of this is that the pro emergency power side, the governor side can take a page out of Donald Trump's handbook and use the courts to delay everything. And I think their goal would be to delay it into early next year. So that in their minds, hopefully the house of representatives will have flipped to democratic control as a result of the election, and they'll be able to block it in the legislature. But it's going to be a tough slog, the first thing they'll do is they'll probably start challenging signatures, the file some sort of lawsuit that works his way up through and the republicans will do their best to expedite that. But the other thing they could do, which I haven't talked to anybody about, but it's still a possibility if they really want to play dirty, the State Board of canvassers has four members, and it takes three votes to certify the petitions to the members are republicans and tour Democrats. And these are all hardcore party people that are appointed basically by the parties. So there's a lot of partisanship there. The Democratic members could simply refuse to attend a meeting. And they wouldn't have a quorum, and they wouldn't be able to vote on the petitions. And what would probably happen would be what I guarantee would happen is the republicans would go to court to force the board of canvassers to meet and act on the petitions. But again, it would be the goal of the governor's side to delay that court hearing as long as possible, and in their minds, hopefully, keep the thing from being voted on until early next year, when democrats possibly have control of the House.


Christine Barry  26:30

Yeah. And, you know, I you mentioned that, you know, it wasn't playing fair, it was playing dirty or something like that. I think, anytime that you use the mechanics of the political apparatus to stop policy from moving forward or whatever, if you use the tools like this, it's kind of unethical, but we are dealing with another group of people who are doing that and have been doing that for years. We talked earlier, the FEC doesn't even have a quorum


Walt Sorg  26:59

and Trump is using the courts all the time to delay until after the election. He's now got the Justice Department intervening in this slander suit that was filed against the president by a woman who claims that he raped her years ago. And now all of a sudden, it's a federal case, because apparently, attacking a woman for being a liar and being ugly, is a part of the official duties of being President of the United States. He's also fighting time after time after time with appeal after appeal after appeal, the release to the grand jury in New York of his tax returns. Again, he doesn't want any of this stuff coming up before the election, because there may be some nasty stuff in there.


Christine Barry  27:40

Well, and it isn't just using the courts like that. It's also using the tools that you find as part of the political process. But coming back to Michigan, if the republicans in the legislature are pushing this ballot initiative, so hard, so that they can adopt it in a way that's veto proof. That, to me seems like dirty politics, even though it's allowed. So I don't see any reason at all, why not going to the meeting and delaying the certification of that ballot would be any more or less fair than what the republicans are doing with  you know, and they've done it forever with adopting a med. They'll adopt a ballot initiative. And then a few months later, they'll amend it to mean something completely different so that it doesn't even it doesn't even matter what the people want it. So and speaking of what the people wanted 52 53% support the governor having these this authority to continue the state of emergency to continue doing what she thinks is right based on the input of her advisors, and it's just a minority who don't want that. So this whole thing that they're trying to do with this petition, this unlock Michigan bs is based on a minority of the people and it should be stopped.


Walt Sorg  29:01

You also have the governor's approval rating going up to about 60% with about the same number of approving of the way that she is respond to the coronavirus outbreak, and only 36% who disapprove. They are very loud in their disapproval but the fact remains they are a loud but still smaller group of people in the state. So it's politically perilous for some of these republicans at least to come out against the governor on this particular issue. Although when you look at the breakout of the numbers, the approval numbers for Whitmer it's very partisan. Not a lot of Republicans approve of the way she's handling things. But there are some out there,


Christine Barry  29:42

Two stories this week deal with Michigan's LGBTQ people in West Michigan Republicans have launched a gay bashing campaign against congressional candidate Jon Hoadley. This is all based on a blog that he kept it when he was in college. You know, the blog is not online now. It's been deleted, but unfortunately, it wasn't deleted earlier. So the republicans cherry picked some phrases from it and then sent out a mailer asking if this guy and they accused him of being a pedo. And just the horrible smears and homophobic specific messaging. I mean, calling some calling a gay man a pedophile is typical homophobic stuff. It's a terrible thing to say. It's just it's just dirty. It's trashy, uh, Fred Upton denied that he was part of it. It's all based on this old blog that Jon Hoadley had when he was in college.


Walt Sorg  30:37

And if we were all judged based on stupid things we did in college, I don't think any of us would have a future. We all did dumb things in college and it looks like that's what Jon Hoadley did since then. Of course, the LGBTQ community is just incensed. What I find ironic too, is at the same time that all this was happening, Hoadley was running a TV ad talking about health care, it was focused on his partner You know, he's basically going out in the air saying, Hey, I'm gay. And this is my partner needs health care, because he's got an underlying condition that that requires a lot of medical attention. And that's one of the reasons why I'm so supportive of health care for everybody. So he's leaning right into the wind right into the headwind and taking it on.


Christine Barry  31:20

Well, and let's not forget these statements that are being publicized were taken, they were cherry picked out of this entire blog. And I understand there are parts of it, you could still read, you know, Internet Archive, whatever. If you take bits and pieces of something that that people have said over a long period of time, you can make it look like anything. So it's a dirty attack. It's a mean spirited, and you expect dirty attacks and congressional races I guess, but I you know, you hope the days of homophobic attacks are over. And they're not definitely.


Walt Sorg  31:55

Meanwhile, the petition drive to expand civil rights protections to LGBT People appear to be dead after the pandemic, resulting in shutting down much of Michigan including the petition drive. But the combination of some court ordered deadline extensions and refusals of give up, have given the effort new life. I talked with the leader of the Fair and Equal Michigan campaign, Trevor Thomas, Trevor, when the pandemic head and all the restrictions went in place. A lot of people gave up the campaign for dead, but you're still alive and struggling, but the finish line is in sight.


Trevor Thomas  32:30

Yes, thanks so much. Well, we were so fortunate to have so many dedicated troopers with us and on the frontlines of equality. You know, we've been doing this and fighting this for 37 years. So when a pandemic hit the campaign, it was it was a step, but we kept going forward. And now we are just a short way away from being able to turn in our signatures.


Walt Sorg  32:59

Now, you need 340,000 valid signatures which means realistically, you need 450 500,000 signatures to be safe.  How close are you to meeting that goal? How much time do you have left to get them?


Trevor Thomas  33:11

So all excellent questions. We have always received our data roughly five days behind schedule because we have to count the signatures after the previous week is turned in. And so I can tell you, at our last count, we were at 315,000. If we haven't crossed it, by the time you and i doing this interview in an airing to the 340 mark, we will very soon in a matter of hours, but the plan has always been to well exceed goal. And that's not just for PR. It's because we know that some signatures won't be valid because someone moves, or someone might pass away. In the past year since they registered to vote and so, we will collect a minimum of 460,000 and then we will turn them in at a date potentially around October 9. And so, if there are folks listening, they can do two things. One, anyone can request a petition to be mailed to their home safely and you can collect from your immediate family members, your neighbors, if you do so with a mask and social distance, we will mail it to you with the instructions very clearly laid out. You can find that at and then it will ask that you submit them to us because of the mail delays around September 25.


Walt Sorg  34:54

Something that you tried that worked a little bit it was very expensive was to collect signatures online Something that's never been done before. You got quite a few but you're not counting those in your in your body count.


Trevor Thomas  35:05

exactly correct. We received 30,000 digital signatures, we're willing to fight the fight on them. However, what when you think about the end goal here is to pass the first ever LGBTQ rights law. We don't want to get distracted. And so we are meeting expectations right now with the traditional Canvas signatures on petitions in the field. And so our thinking is, we contact the folks that sign digitally, and we offer to sell them a mail petition and we track it very carefully, so that we don't turn in a double signatures if in the event for some reason we chose to turn in the electronic. My sense right now is that we're trending in a way where we will turn in all traditional Canvas But as you can imagine, as you stated a moment ago, you want to make sure you have a safe and healthy margin. And so, you know, I'll just comment, though, that I certainly stand by the digital signatures stand by the campaign's choice to do what it takes to succeed. under unprecedented odds.


Walt Sorg  36:19

What are you doing to keep both your circulators and the people who sign your petition safe out in the field?


Trevor Thomas  36:26

It's a good question. So we are certainly following all of the recommendations and guidelines by not only the state of Michigan but the CDC, you are required to have a mask by being a being on our team of fair and equal Michigan and utilizing it. You know, there's been weekly calls with volunteers and our grassroots teams, and our paid teams and we've been sharing tips and tricks of collecting in a pandemic in a safe way. Several of folks have pointed to being able to set up a table so that you can create some distance between a potential signer and the collector, being able to see and witness the signature and still have control over the environment. But it's been something that is quite incredible. Because I was very, very concerned collecting in the pandemic would be difficult. And our numbers show that it's difficult given the amount of money we're putting into it in the resources. But we're slowly getting there and trickling in and trickling in. And we're going to turn in the legally accepted amount of signatures, and we're going to trigger the legislature to consider for the first time an LGBTQ rights bill.


Walt Sorg  37:57

Trevor Thomas, thank you so much. Congratulations. I know for my days with voters, not politicians, we collected about 425,000 signatures in the old-fashioned way. But we had perfect conditions for you to get this many signatures under these conditions is quite remarkable.


Trevor Thomas  38:12

I appreciate it very much all you do and your commitment to LGBTQ equality. We don't take it for granted. It means the world to us.


Christine Barry  38:25

All right, time for some political notes. Governor Whitmer is gambling a little by allowing sports competition again in Michigan, but in an effort to maximize protections for high school athletes, she's clarified the conditions under which sports can resume so basically, she's saying you have to wear a mask.


Walt Sorg  38:43

A lot of the athletes are striking back. It was interesting here in Ingham County. The county health director Linda Valle responded to those who say was unsafe to exercise like this and play football or go running or whatever wearing a mask and she pointed out the cheers As a long distance runner, and in the winter, when it's cold out, she wears a facemask so that her lungs don't freeze up. And there's no problem at all. She says it's not a health problem. It's a perception problem. And if you're wearing the right kind of mask, it shouldn't be a problem at all. But a lot of people are pissed off about it right now, push out the other thing too. A lot of high schools are simply not engaging in athletics, because they don't think it's safe for their students, and they don't think it's safe for their community.


Christine Barry  39:26

Well, maybe that's how that can be done. If the schools are talking to the local health departments and they decide that they can give it a shot. Then it's a return to normalcy a little bit for some of these kids. I do understand the mask issue. They did talk a little bit about that in some of the articles we've we're going to link to that it's more of a nuisance than a safety issue. There are some concerns about people who have skin issues around their mouth or if you already have a hard time breathing or something by These are just very, that's a very small number of people that affects so it should be safe for the kids to wear them. It's unfortunate that they have to do it. But there are a few other things to you. Like, like the restrictions for our school, bring your own water, bring your own towels, bring your masks, that kind of thing. For the most part, it's it's going okay. So I hope that this is a successful experiment for the kids and for the families as well.


Walt Sorg  40:29

Meanwhile, another finding in the Glengariff group poll, it was done for the Detroit News. A majority of Michigan parents favor having some form of online education. Only 38% believe students should return to classes in person this fall 50% favorite online school 7% support a hybrid approach in person and virtual learning combined. So yeah, again, it's split and it's probably a partisan split as well, with Democrats leaning more and more towards the virtual side. But it's a it's a lose situation. There is no good answer. I don't think to this question, no matter what is done, it's wrong.


Christine Barry  41:07

You know, unfortunately, there's no absolute solid, good thing that you can do that doesn't have drawbacks. And so we're, you know, the schools are doing the best they can I'm sure that families are as well and keep on working towards the best solution.


Walt Sorg  41:21

While this was going on, the governor's taken some of the federal funds that have come in for the COVID-19 pandemic, to invest in Michigan's future, which I really think is a great idea. It's sort of like the GI Bill, except it's for frontline workers in the fight against the virus. And it's not just the healthcare providers, and the people you think of automatically, but it's a lot of people that are in minimum wage, or just barely above minimum wage jobs are critical to our society. I think first and foremost, the people who work in the grocery stores.


Christine Barry  41:52

Yeah, retail delivery, the people who really kept us going. They're the ones who qualify for this. It's About 625,000 essential workers appear to be eligible for this. And it's currently limited to community colleges. It's for people who don't have a degree already I'll put all the requirements in the show notes. And the deadline to apply is December 31 11:59. And I think this is great. And what's also great Walt, is that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce appears to support it as well, Rich Studley tweeted out the chamber support.


Walt Sorg  42:25

But we've got a real skills gap in the state and a real need for some skilled workers in areas. Nursing, for example, is one area where the community colleges can do an excellent job of providing training. And we've got a nursing shortage right now, but it's across the board. And the state can only benefit from increasing the education level of these people that are working so hard right now, and are doing so much just to keep our society working. And that brings us to our political attack ad of the week. Our runner up goes to the Meidas touch for their take on Trump's lying lies.


The Meidas Touch PAC  43:00

Trump pretended the coronavirus wouldn't come to our shores. I wanted to always play it down I still like playing it down the risk to the American people remains very low pretended the democrats were overreacting. This is that new hoax he pretended it would go away. A lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat and then he pretended again, it's also more deadly than your you know, your even your strenuous flus you this the same as the flu. And again, at some point that's going to sort of just disappear and again going away. No, it'll go away. Well, Trump pretended Americans face real consequences. Nearly 200,000 dead and rising, businesses closed and now has over 1000 Americans die each day. What's the Trump administration's plan pretend that the pandemic is over in a time of crisis. Americans can't afford to have a pretend president. I wanted to always play it down. Midas touch is responsible for the contents of this advertising,


Walt Sorg  44:01

but the week's gold medal goes to the Meidas touch as well with an Internet ad questioning Trump's mental health, asking if he has narcissistic personality disorder.


The Meidas Touch PAC  44:11

Nobody knows the system better than me does. DJ NPD Can you handle it? Some of the best minds in psychiatry have claimed publicly that President Donald J Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder the best in business I'm sexually the best are talking about penis sizes, no empathy. Everything has to refer to me as paranoid, but why trust the experts when you can examine him yourself. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, those with narcissistic personality disorder exhibit the following traits an exaggerated sense of self-importance. The one that matters is me a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success. I've been very successful. Everybody loves me power. I have the right to do whatever I want as president really and he did call me a genius. You need more ideas. Wow when you were stuck there let's do it. You can do anything whatever you want to grab and by the, the belief that they are special. I am the chosen one and should associate with only other high-status people. This is done in particular a great friendship. There was with NPD require excessive admiration was the biggest sending of a shoe since Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl interpersonally exploitative, I love Mexican people. I've had thousands of Mexicans working for me, they show contemptuous behavior. I don't know what I said, Ah, I have a sense of entitlement. I'm really rich lack empathy. 1000 Americans have done it. It is what it is. So you tell me do you think DJ T has NPD?


Walt Sorg  45:39

I don't know if these ads have any impact beyond entertaining people like me. But they really do go to the core issues of the problems that we've got with the current president.


Christine Barry  45:50

Six to 8% undecided. That's who's going to listen to these ads.


Walt Sorg  45:55

Yeah, well, it's also fighting fire with fire. You've got Donald Trump out on the channel. campaign stump openly questioning the ability of Joe Biden physically and mentally to be the president of the United States, which I find hilarious from a guy whose biggest form of exercise is the remote control changing from one fax show to the next and riding a golf cart around his golf course even to the point of riding his cart right under the green before he punched.


Christine Barry  46:19

My goodness.


Walt Sorg  46:24

One of the challenges of term limits in Michigan is a lack of knowledge and experience in our legislature, when Michigan voters enacted term limits, Michigan State University recognized the challenge and created a unique program to provide training for future government leaders, the Michigan Political Leadership Program provides practical training for would be politicians. It traditionally is co chaired by a prominent republican and prominent Democrat. Currently that means Suzy Avery and Steve to Bachman Avery has been Chair of the Michigan Republican Party executive director of the Michigan women's commission, Director of travel and tourism For the state of Michigan, along with Director of Public Affairs for governor john Engler, and she's also been an elected Wayne County Commissioner and the northville Township supervisor, Steve de Bachman served in the Michigan House of Representatives for the maximum of three terms. In his final term, he was the elected the majority Floor Leader, which is the second highest position in the Michigan house. The Michigan Political Leadership Program is really very unique in the state of Michigan and maybe around the nation you actually train people to serve in government. Let's start with you, Susie, if the trading becomes especially important with term limits, I would think


Susy Avery  47:34

Yeah, in fact, we tell everybody, now is the time to look at maybe a little bit different career choice that you might have had in in your future. Term limits has really taken up so many issues in terms of leadership within the state legislature as well as leadership in some other areas, even some local cities and towns. Have term limits written into their charter. So we encourage everybody to take a look at MPLP because it's not only do you learn a lot, but you have a good time learning it. This is we're not connected to any political party. This is run through the major university of Michigan State University. And it is bipartisan. We have 12 democrats that are come in as what we call our fellows. And we have 12 republicans that come in as our fellows. And with that, I'll kind of turn it over to Steve because we have three different areas that we try to concentrate on. And Steve, I know is an expert in all three actually.


Steve Tobocman  48:41

So I think well, you You nailed it on the head. We were celebrating our 30th class but we're 27 years old and it was created right as term limits which went into effect one of our speakers loves to say it's the mandatory inexperienced law to govern the state of Michigan. In the legislature, what we do is we train people, obviously on campaigns and elections and how to get elected. But what's unique about MPLP Not only is it bipartisan and one of the few programs in the country that does it in a bipartisan manner, we really focus on grooming political leaders. So we talk about how to make good public policy. And we train in that area. This is a very diverse state. We have one of the great American urban cities that has, you know, where I live in Detroit with a lot of urban challenges and other urban areas. We also have Native American tribes, and we have rural areas, and we have suburban areas. To understand the state of Michigan, we really travel and have speakers from different local communities around the state. So that's the second area is how to make good policy in Michigan. And then the third is really kind of political leadership, personal development. So we train and ethics we train and how you negotiate from an interest based bargaining, we change Training evidence based policymaking those kinds of skills that can be used in any policymaking environment.


Susy Avery  50:06

But you know, we always like to point out that you don't have to have two PhDs are Irby are or have master's degrees to come in. We have all kinds of people that that come in and actually are in the legislature right now. And Ron and when we have, we have, we have two military veterans this time one was in the Navy one, a woman who was in the Marines. We have someone who was a is a lieutenant in the open County Sheriff's Department. We also have someone who the farthest he went is to graduate from high school, because this is Michigan we have all different kinds of people who serve in the legislature, a very diverse group, and they bring a lot of diverse opinions. We have a fellow who is from escanaba, a woman from harbor springs, and sometimes if you're in an urban area of Southeast Michigan, or Grand Rapids, you don't really know about some of the issues that are going on. But when you get to be in the state legislature, or if you're even, even if you're in a, if you decide to run for our county seat, you should really know about these things. And not only that, as Steve will tell you, it develops lifelong friendships and networks on both sides of the aisle that will be extremely useful as you get to a point in your career. And I tell everybody, you know, everybody talks about Oh, do you believe what Trump did Oh, do you believe Biden does? Well, this is one way for you to take all of that energy and put it so that you can run for office you can have you can be significant and you can have an impact.


Walt Sorg  51:39

And you kind of set an example to because you both have been right in the middle of the partisan battles. Steve was the majority floor leader for Democrats in the legislature. Susie was the chair of the state Republican Party. You're not just dealing with this is theoretical, but you've been there.


Susy Avery  51:55

Oh, yeah. And you know, Steve and I have many interesting arguments and discussions. As you can imagine, but you know, that's what they are. They're on. They're on a civil plane, we're not yelling at each other well, maybe once or twice. And we have found that sometimes adult beverages help for everything, but really there there's a lot of common ground. And if you look, the legislature this year has actually passed a lot of bills that have been bipartisan. And we now have so many people that have graduated from MPLP, what do we have now 17 in the legislature, I think right now that they have, they have an MPLP caucus, they call it and so we really feel proud of, of what has been accomplished within this program.


Walt Sorg  52:42

Steve, what's the routine for somebody who becomes a fellow in this program? What do they actually go through?


Steve Tobocman  52:48

Yeah, applications are still available, and they're due this October 2 for next year's class. We have one retreat a month from February to November. So there's retreats, we in a non COVID setting, we would get together around five, six o'clock on a Friday eat dinner together have a session. We have a hospitality suite every Friday night. Susie and I usually leave that suite at a respectable hour and we would happily


Susy Avery  53:17

But our fellows usually do not.


Steve Tobocman  53:22

And then we enjoy Saturday together. We have breakfast together sessions all morning lunch and then more sessions till we leave in the afternoon on Saturday, during COVID we've switched to a 9am to 1pm Friday and Saturday schedule and so we've been able to do policy simulations we've been able to use breakout rooms on zoom to have more dialogue and they're still doing works like writing campaign plan. So we've been able to get quite a bit of the program done and obviously we have no idea what 21 is going to look like. It is a program that no doubt it thrives on the kind of downtime and the interaction. The number one thing I hear people graduate say is that they made lifelong friendships. And they often make lifelong friendships with people from across the aisle, people with completely different backgrounds. I've had people tell me, I've never roomed with a Muslim before, I've never roomed with a, you know, a gay person before. And then they make these lifelong friendships that even as they end up as adversaries in campaigns or across aisles or working for members of the legislature who can't stand each other, there's this ability and a willingness to work for the greater good that lasts a lifetime out of among our graduates.


Walt Sorg  54:37

You know, one of the things that you do to help support your fellows is raise money every year with a fundraiser. That's always a lot of fun, because you're able to attract some of the best speakers and from politics around the country. This year, you're doing it differently. Of course, it's it's, we live in a zoom world, but you've got one of the most interesting speakers you could possibly get into the circumstances. The great guru the Nostradamus of Political prognostication,


Susy Avery  55:01

right. And he was a professor for Steve. So, um, so Steve, we had this whole thing before COVID. So that Steve was going to pick him up from the airport. And they were going to have these this of course, now, this is, of course, his name is Sabato. And anybody can look at the crystal ball, he has actually, he has his own crystal ball. He has been doing predictions about national and some state races also and has been pretty much on the mark. I think something like 98% of the time. So he's going to come in on October the first and we're going to zoom in, you can still get a ticket. He's going to miss it, and he's going to get his predictions for a national election. We've also had asked him to look at things like the Peters James race, which is going to be a big deal in Michigan, and some of the other national races that are that are going on and he's not a boring speaker. He is a lot of fun to watch. He's been, and he's kind of bipartisan himself. He's been on Fox News, but he's been on MSNBC. He's been on CNN. I mean, he's been on the whole gambit of because people trust his opinion. So we encourage people to take a look and see if they'd like to come out to our dinner and be able to watch it from their home. And they can actually see the see the event out the MPLP web website, and you can get a ticket and then come in and take a look and see, see if you'd like to jump in the water's fine.


Walt Sorg  56:32

I've got to say that one of my favorite memories of your program was going to one of your events where you paired up my former boss, Jim Blanchard with former governor john Engler.


Susy Avery  56:42

Wasn't that an incredible night? That was the first time they had gotten together.


Walt Sorg  56:47

It's sort of like watching George W. Bush and Barack Obama together. After they've both left office, they've got the shared experience that only they understand. And the dynamic was, it was really very interesting to watch before. The two of them. And I would assume that's the experience that your fellows get every year.


Susy Avery  57:04

They can have a lot of things that they disagree about. But they when you've gone through a similar experience, they honor each other.


Walt Sorg  57:11

If people do want to become fellows, what is the financial commitment on their part? And how do they go about applying,



they can find the application on our website. And again, it's due October 2. So just google Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, those terms will take you to the website, you can download the application. It's a pretty basic standard application, we have an interview process, we typically get anywhere from 75 to 100 applicants for those 24 spots, and it's a $2,000 administrative fee. There are scholarships available. We've never had to turn anyone away who can't afford the administrative fee. So it's just it costs us probably 14 to $15,000, a fellow to put on this program, and so it is really a great deal. It's much less expensive than any other kind of year long leadership development program that you'll find.


Walt Sorg  58:06

Steve Bachman and Susie Avery, thanks so much for joining us.


Susy Avery  58:09

Thank you.


Christine Barry  58:11

Let's wrap for this week. For more information on today's subjects head on over to our website, Michigan We'll have links and photos and all kinds of information there about things that we've talked about, and some additional things that we didn't talk about. So come on over and check it out.


Walt Sorg  58:29

You can email us at or reach out through the Michigan Policast page on Facebook or even if you must go to Twitter. absentee ballots go into the mail a week from Thursday watch your mailbox and vote early. Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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