Final debate, MI campaigns, poll watchers v election challengers. Simon Schuster of MCFN is guest.

October 26, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, October 26, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Trump v Biden final debate
  • Trump, GOP, give up on containing COVID-19 #HerdImmunity
  • Simon Schuster of MCFN on all that campaign spending
  • Campaign appearances, surrogates, and speeches
  • Jocelyn Benson, polling places and open carry
  • Political notes
  • Attack ad of the week
  • Remembering Peter Secchia
  • Transcript



Jump to:

Trump v Biden final debate




.@JoeBiden’s win is a function of a solid performance focused on real issues, in contrast with the president’s decision to spend most of the debate on the deep lore of the Fox Cinematic Universe. ~@jbouie on the final debateClick To Tweet

.@JoeBiden was able to position himself as the economic populist in the race, speaking urgently about the need to bail out small businesses and getting Trump to come out against both the #ACA and a higher minimum wage.~@michelleinbklynClick To Tweet
Anytime someone tells you they are the least racist person in the room, they might be the most racist person in the room. ~@esouthersHVEClick To Tweet

“I'm the least racist person in this room” ~Donald Trump



Trump, GOP, give up on containing COVID-19 #HerdImmunity







Simon Schuster of MCFN on all that campaign spending


Campaigns have to reach voters in the final days of this election with a heavy concentration on impersonal methods, so a lot of funding is going to big advertising ~ @Simon_Schuster @MichiganCFNClick To Tweet

While Michigan’s 8th and 11th congressional districts received the lion’s share of spending in 2018, well-funded incumbent Democrats are playing stalwart defense and outside groups have largely pulled out of those races for Republicans. ~Source



Campaign appearances, surrogates, and speeches










Jocelyn Benson, polling places and open carry



Political notes





Regardless of which of these two party breakdown models that you believe accurately represents this moment in time, Democrat Hillary Scholten is at this point favored to win the election. She would be the first Democrat to hold this seat since the Watergate era.

It is inconceivable why the son of one of Michigan’s wealthiest families was outspent by a Democrat in West Michigan in the most important month of this election cycle. National Republicans and Super PACs are attempting to make up for lost time in October with heavy TV buys to define Scholten as liberal on environmental and immigration issues. It could be too late now that nearly half the electorate has voted. ~John Yob's Strategic National summary report




Attack ad of the week

Runner up: Meidas Touch – Trump is Pathetic PART 2: Trump 60 Minutes FAIL


Winner: Joe Biden for President 2020 – Go From There


Remembering Peter Secchia


Peter and Joan Secchia




(auto-transcription, still needs some corrections)



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 assist in the promotion of progressive ideas.


Joe Biden  00:11

He talks about where this is, Oh, don't worry. It's all gonna be over soon. Come on. There's not another serious scientists in the world of things is going to be over soon.


Speaker  00:20

President Trump your reaction over


Donald Trump  00:22

soon I say we're learning to live with it. We have no choice. He says that we're, you know, we're learning to live with it.


Joe Biden  00:29

People are learning to die with it.


Walt Sorg  00:31

The pandemic reaches level proportions as the presidential campaign goes into the homestretch, Michigan is being inundated with candidates surrogates that incredible amounts of money going into TV advertising. This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan policy and politics and the national currents impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I’m Walt Sorg pleased that our government run health care work so well for Donald Trump.


Christine Barry  00:54

I'm Christine Barry. Donald Trump has a hissy fit over Gretchen Whitmer on national TV and retaliates against that woman from Michigan by bringing his COVID Palooza 2020 Super spreader tour to Lansing on Tuesday. Kamala Harris stumps the state on Sunday and Joe Biden brings out his two ton gorilla surrogate as Barack Obama unloads on the Donald.  the Secretary of State reports record numbers for voter turnout and makes it clear that she and the state police aren't going to allow the proud boys or any other militia gang to intimidate voters on election day. And later in the pod, we'll talk money, money, money, money, lots of money with a guy who tracks the campaign spending, Simon Schuster of the Michigan campaign finance network.


Walt Sorg  01:38

We begin with the second and final presidential debate. Christine, the big bucks consultants will tell you that the first 10 minutes of a debate is the most important part of that debate. If that's the measure, then Joe Biden won at all with his first words


Joe Biden  01:52

220,000 Americans did you hear nothing else? I say tonight, who this anyone who's responsible for not taking control? In fact, not saying I'm … I take no responsibility initially, anyone who's responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.


Walt Sorg  02:15

And the reason I say that he won the debate in the first 10 minutes is that the rest of the debate was pretty boring for the casual voter, you know, for policy nerds like us, we stuck with it. But I would think that those five undecided voters out there in America that are left probably turned it off after about 1015 minutes and turned around the football game.


Christine Barry  02:33

Yeah, I think it was boring if .., I don't know what you're looking for, if you're not looking for a show here, because but with, with Trump being a little bit calmer in this debate, and the the ability that the moderator has to turn off the mics, you're able to really listen to the stupidity coming from Trump. And Biden did the right thing by ignoring most of it rather than trying to explain things because they, I mean, what that's like, the first thing you learn in campaign school is that you never want to be explaining anything. So Biden just laughs at it. And Trump needs that showmanship, to hide his ignorance or his con game or sell whatever it is he's selling. And so in the absence of that, car wreck, like, show, people just find it to be boring. I liked it. I thought it was great. I love watching Joe Biden. I really do. He's just he says, seems like an authentic guy. He's fun to watch. He's funny. You know, he doesn't bring a hug to a knife fight, which I think is really important.


Walt Sorg  03:33

And Trump did manage to dial it down, which probably work both to his advantage and disadvantage, because it did make him less interesting. But he managed to lie just as much the fact checkers went nuts The next morning, going over all the things that he got wrong, intentionally, for the most part, many of the things that he's lied about repeatedly over the last months and years trying to reinvent everything from how he saved the economy from Barack Obama, to how he did just a perfect job on responding to the COVID-19 threat. All in all, it was Donald Trump on his heels. He's clearly playing defense at this point, which is why he's coming back to Michigan. He's trying to basically recreate the miracle of 2016. Well, meanwhile, Joe Biden's out there. He's looking to expand the states that are in play, and possibly bringing a landslide November 3.


Christine Barry  04:21

Well, Governor Whitmer came up briefly in the debate.


Donald Trump  04:24

Take a look at what's happening with your friend in Michigan where her husband's The only one allowed to do anything. It's been like a prison


Walt Sorg  04:32

even keeps coming to me complaining a lot about the churches being shut down. So you can't go in and pray which is absolutely baloney. She's ever done that since day one of this pandemic, going all the way back to march. He never shut down the churches and most of Michigan has opened up at this point. The capacities have been restricted to quite an extent. You know, watching the football games yesterday for Michigan and Michigan State which was very painful for the Michigan State fans. But watching those games, nobody in the stands. And I think that probably had an impact on the games. But still, it was the reality of what we're facing right now. And it was in the face of what we will be talking about a little bit later. And that is the fact that this state in this nation are at record levels. Now for the pandemic. It is worse now than it was last spring at the very height of it. The death toll is going up. It's not as high as it was last spring because the doctors know more about how to treat covid but it is going up and certainly evictions are at record levels as well. This was not the last time that the Gretchen Whitmer came up in Trump's mind he she's apparently really tunneled in it's got some space in that brain of his right now they great brain. That huge, brainy brags about. He really went bonkers when Leslie stolen 60 minutes pressed him on calling for the governor to be put in prison. Lest we forget it was just last week in Muskegon. When he did it.


Donald Trump  05:49

You got to get your governor to open up your state and get your schools open, get your schools open. The schools have to be open right. Lock them all up.


Walt Sorg  06:20

Trump Of course in the interview with Lesley Stahl denied saying it calling Stahl all sorts of names, and then walked away from the 60 Minutes interview and refuse to continue with what they agree to. And then they release the full interviews recorded by the White House team in defiance of the agreement they had with 60 minutes that it would not be released, which of course, you know, with Donald Trump agreements like that mean absolutely nothing. Yeah,


Christine Barry  06:43

yeah. And you know, the governor, meanwhile, was focused on the return of COVID-19 crisis, Michigan, were part of a national wave of new infections. in midsummer, our daily infection rate was in the low double digits. But in the last few days were over 1700 a day.


Gretchen Whitmer  06:59

We are now at our peak when it comes to daily new cases, this peak is higher, it's higher than what we saw in April.


Walt Sorg  07:09

Even more frightening on Saturday, the state reported 3500 or so new infections that is by far the all time record for the state of Michigan. Now the rolling seven day average is a much better indicator. So we're going to have to take that with a grain of salt and see what does over the long term trend. But clearly, the trend is very, very high and it's pretty frightening.


Christine Barry  07:29

But hospitalizations are up 40% in the past month, and now we have the Republican leaders in the legislature trying to take a new tack you know, instead of trying to manage it they they're trying to expose more people to the virus so we achieve herd immunity are not trying to they want to achieve herd immunity by exposing more people to the virus.


Gretchen Whitmer   07:52

We've seen some of our leaders embracing dangerous ideas like herd immunity. Let me be clear, that philosophy is inhumane. Health experts have said that if we embrace herd immunity 30,000 more Michiganders would die from this virus. A much better alternative to herd immunity would be to control the spread of the coronavirus through policies that are based on evidence followed by broad use of safe and effective vaccine. When it becomes available.


Walt Sorg  08:26

You know, to get really to the bottom of this and find out what's going on at ground level. Over the last few days, I took the opportunity to talk with a whole bunch of nurses at Lansing largest hospital system and get their perspective on what's happened and they're really worried. They were there last spring when the hospital was jammed up with COVID-19 patients. And they didn't have enough pp. And they see it happening all over again. In fact, right now, Lindsay's largest hospital has the largest number of people hospitalized for COVID that has had since all this began. On the plus side, they do have the PPE now they do have a better handle on how to deal with it. But they're worried they're very, very worried people are going to start taking this seriously. More and more people have COVID-19 they're just tired of it. And you'll see more and more people refusing to wear masks again say well, it's kind of over it's sort of over. Certainly when you go over to the MSU area and you see students off campus and even on campus, openly defying the city ordinance and the university requirement that if you are in public, whether it's indoors and outdoors, you wear a mask.


Christine Barry  09:30

It's insane if we let's get back to herd immunity real quick, this is about and for people who don't fully understand it. I have an explainer video. I think we all kind of know what herd immunity is, though. But what the idea is that people who have a low risk of dying would be going about living their lives normally and building up their immunity to the virus by actually contracting the virus. Only people who were at the highest risk would be Following COVID-19 restrictions and protections, here's the problem, though we don't know. First of all, what percentage what the herd immunity threshold is to actually achieve herd immunity. The most optimistic number is 40%. We need to reach 40% immunity for everybody to be protected. Many other people disagree and say it's going to be 80 to 95% to reach herd immunity. Now in Michigan, if you're at 80% herd immunity 6.5 million more Michiganders would have to get COVID-19 30,000 more people would lose their lives, which I think the governor just mentioned. And the millions of Michiganders who would have to get COVID-19, even if they didn't die from it. So many of them would suffer from heart problems, lung problems, ongoing issues, these would all be pre-existing conditions, by the way as they go into whatever their next insurance coverage might be. This is just a bad policy. I mean, you do make people sick on purpose with a virus we don't fully understand. I heard a report that there are people contracting it twice now.


Walt Sorg  11:07

It's just beginning now There have been a few cases reported or people getting it for a second time. And we just don't know enough about the virus yet to be sure of that. Now, the whole concept of herd immunity, historically amongst medical professionals and the scientists is built around the idea you develop herd immunity through vaccination. That's how you achieve herd immunity. You don't do it by intent and with a vaccination, you're exposing people to a virus in a safe way. Whereas with what they're proposing now, they're saying basically, hey, just throw the dice if you die, and if you don't die, you'll be immune, because you know, Donald Trump is, well, I'm immune. Well, Donald Trump's got a private helicopter rides is one of the best medical facilities in the world. And it's being treated by a phalanx of doctors to make sure that he's okay. He's getting experimental drugs that are not going to be available to the rest of us. He's just not living in the real world. And I would say the same to the republicans in the state legislature who are talking about the same thing. Mike Shirky, the senate majority leader is one of the people talking herd immunity. And it is just dangerous, dangerous, dangerous.


Christine Barry  12:09

Yeah. Now, here's something interesting. One of the things that that his spokesperson said was that, well, we're not health experts. So, you know, we'll look into it, we'll study it and so on. Well, at the same time, the Republican caucus in the house, put out a proposal that instead of, instead of having statewide rules, COVID-19 regulations could be set county by county. So each county, based on their numbers of cases, could say, okay, we can have this many people in a restaurant, you could have this many people in a gathering and that kind of thing. So it's actually that it would be putting the responsibility at the county level. And well, everything about this is stupid, and just bad. And they're saying this is to take the politics out of these decisions, and to, you know, recognize that some counties are affected worse than others. But the problem with this is if the people at the state are saying they have to have hearings to understand more about COVID. What are the the county commissioners going to be doing? You know, the county commissioners in a lot of places are just part time commissioners, you know, it's their side job, right? Yeah, I don't want to say that there's a conflict of interest built in, but many people who rise to prominence with on a local level, it’s because they're business owners, or they run an organization, they're in some way high profile. And if you think there's no politics at that level, you're nuts. So it's just a bad bad idea with a lot of conflict built in. And, you know, it is true that people at the local level tend to not see each other as D's and R's so much. But the division comes by last name. There's still lots of problems there between people. There's still a lot of infighting there. And I think putting it at the county level is just irresponsible. And that's what Ben Frederick, my representative, unfortunately, wants to do and he should know better. He should know better just looking at our county.


Walt Sorg  14:04

Yeah, you added into it now a whole bunch of other complications. We now have two more lawsuits on the mask mandate people saying it's unconstitutional to mandate masks in public places. One of them comes from a hudsonville Christian school, the Libertas classical Association. They filed a federal lawsuit in Michigan's western US District Court, claiming its constitutional rights were violated when the county health department threatened to shut the school because of violations of the mask mandate and gathering restrictions. I don't know why the mask mandate and gathering restrictions which are clearly allowed by state law are any different than other health requirements in state law. They can't violate safety standards in their kitchen. They can't allow their students to come to school naked. They've got to abide by state rules to they're not totally exempt because of their religious organization, but apparently they think when it comes to a piece of cloth across your face, That is an unconstitutional infringement. And you've got the same claim of sorts from a grant haven chiropractor, arguing that domestic mandate exceeded what orders it was allowed to issue under the state law. Again, people got to folk we've got to get keep our eye on the prize, and the prize is fighting this virus until we have effective treatments, as well as effective vaccines for the virus, because that's the only way we're going to stay safe.


Christine Barry  15:25

Well, a lot of these people, I think, well are just opportunists looking to get attention. You know, I don't know about this Christian school. I, I would bet money, though, that they don't think it's unconstitutional to make laws about what a woman does if she's pregnant. I don't think I mean, I would bet money that they say they're pro life, and there's evidence that masks help save lives, but they've got to sue, so they don't have to follow that rule. The chiropractor too, I just think it's all about getting attention. I don't think there's any benefit that exceeds the pain you go through with a lawsuit, if, unless it's about getting attention and raising your profile, and just, you know, creating an opportunity for yourself to get your name out there. That's exactly what Carl manky did in a while. So he didn't need any money. He probably was bored and wanted to go cut hair. But it was an opportunity to raise his profile to do something fun for himself. And that's what I think a lot of these other people are doing with these lawsuits. And it's ridiculous. It's a waste of time. It's a waste of money. It's a waste of our state's resources. It's just, it's just unnecessary.


Walt Sorg  16:31

And it all starts at the top. It is Donald Trump with the super spreader rallies that he's holding all around the country, including one that's coming to Lansing on Tuesday, which I'm absolutely dreading. Although it's kind of ironic. I remember four years ago, we came to Lansing, and in his speech, he asked African American voters, what have you got to lose? Well, it turns out the answer is your life, among other things, and he's going to prove that on Tuesday, but there's a tremendous interview on Sunday that just before we recorded the program, it was Jake Tapper on CNN was grilling Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, they're talking about the fact that the White House is a Corona hotspot, it is a virus hotspot right now. We have Mike Pence, his chief of staff has now been infected along with at least one other top staffer in his office, three dozen or so White House staffers have been infected. And he grilled Meadows on the fact that Donald Trump does not require the people at his rallies to wear masks and metros argument is, well, it's a free country. We give them the mask that they don't want to wear them. That's their choice. Well, that's an interesting philosophy. But it just doesn't make any sense in the light of all the scientific evidence that that free choice is killing people.


Christine Barry  17:40

Well, you know, leaders make the hard decisions, and they put their foot down. And when you talked about the first 10 minutes of that debate, you know, Joe Biden stood up there and Hani pulled advanced out of his pocket and said, If you would just have people wear these, we could save lives. I mean, that's what leaders do. leaders say, look, you might you might not like it, but this is for the benefit of the country. This is the best interests in our country and Donald Trump's never had best interest of our country in mind. He's just all about Trump and


Walt Sorg  18:07

how secret protectors for the virus when he can't even protect himself, his wife and his son,


Christine Barry  18:12

the head of the COVID Task Force is now a COVID hotspot. So I don't know what to say. That's it. That's the point. I mean, they're not going to protect us they have no credibility on this issue whatsoever.


Walt Sorg  18:30

The votes will be counted for a couple of weeks. But we already know one of the major winners for Michigan's election cycle are Michigan broadcast stations, especially the television stations. The Michigan campaign finance network reports that $47 million is being spent just this week on TV and mostly TV advertising in the state of Michigan. Simon Schuster from the Michigan campaign finance network joins us on the pod. Simon, this is a crazy number,


Simon Schuster  18:55

not to my knowledge of known of any advertising on this scale. I mean, 2020 is a really unprecedented year, campaigns are having to pivot to get their message out and outreach to voters in the final days of this election season with a particularly heavy concentration on impersonal methods. And so I think you see a lot of that funding getting funneled into these sort of advertising mediums.


Walt Sorg  19:20

Where's the money coming from? We know that Joe Biden's raised a ton of money. We know that a couple of members of Congress have raised a lot of money. But a lot of those other monies is third parties. And


Simon Schuster  19:31

yeah, that's correct. Part of the increasing trend that we've been seeing in our politics, of course, is the influence of outside groups and dark money organizations. They are out spending campaigns at least this week as a proportion of about two to one. Unfortunately, they become in some of these tight races, sort of the driving force on airwaves through broadcast. And increasingly we see campaigns trying to reach out to these organizations while they can't legally coordinate with them. They're trying to say, Hey, we have this bureau information, we have these talking points. They're on the front page of our website. If you'd like to make an ad supporting us with all the materials,


Walt Sorg  20:11

let's break it down by some of the races and who's spending the money. The biggest money is going in the race between Gary Peters and john Jane for the US Senate. And just this week alone, you report $19.2 million in advertising. This is gonna be 100 million dollar race.


Simon Schuster  20:27

Yes, it already is. 100 million dollar race, I'm afraid. It is by all means blowing all records out of the water. It's Michigan's most expensive election ever. And you really get the sense when you look at the spending in some of these breakdowns, that this isn't necessarily this spending is not because of Michigan, because Michiganders are really, they care a lot about the future of their representation in the Senate. It's because outside forces believe that this is a nationally important race. And so they're funneling an enormous amount of money in here to either if you're on the Republican side, believe that you might have a backstop, in the case seats flip in other states, or if you're on the Democratic side, view this as an important stepping stone towards a majority that if you use this seat, then the possibility of getting a senatorial majority becomes that much more difficult. So that is sort of I mean, you know, candidates run on their own merits, races are tight because the candidates are competitive. But when you see this sort of influx of cash, it's not necessarily because it matters for the residence of the state, particularly more.


Walt Sorg  21:35

Okay, the presidential race is obviously one of the big spenders with 16 and a half million dollars your report this week, most of it with Joe Biden, again, is Is there any? Is there any pattern to it? Is it mostly money that's being raised by the Biden campaign or third party?


Simon Schuster  21:52

I think that you know, you can look at a variety of news outlets and really get the sense that Biden is an ass has fundraise an astronomical amount, he can afford to essentially plaster every wall with posters if you chose to. That said, there's still a large and broad constellation of outside groups that are funneling money into this race. And because Michigan has this newly minted status as a battleground state, they're concentrating heavily here. And I believe that there's more than 20 groups, both on the each for the Democrat and Republican sides, that are really putting their weight behind each of these candidates. You know, we saw really tight margins in 2016. And this is really a game of margins, especially in this state.


Walt Sorg  22:41

In the congressional races, how many of Michigan's 14 districts are amongst the big spenders.


Simon Schuster  22:47

So I think that you would really look to three different districts as competitive, two of which were the two that flipped in 2018, which are the eighth and the 11th. Their freshman incumbent democrats are playing defense by doing quite a good job of it just in terms of the amount of money that they've raised. And the third, however, I think, is probably one that if you would ask people at the beginning of 2019, if it was going to be a competitive seat, I think a lot of people would be surprised, and or rather, they just wouldn't believe that it would be. But in the third Congressional District, which been vacated by Justin Amash, that is, surprisingly tightening race. And the spending is sort of reflecting that it's not exactly as high as it is an eighth and 11th, where these incumbents have had time to amass a large amount of money. outside groups, super PACs, and dark money organizations have sort of had reserved ad time far out into the future. But you see some of these organizations pivoting towards this race, because I think that the way that I've characterized it before is that Democrats might believe that it could be a bargain pickup, that they can get a seat advantage, without spending an enormous sum of money.


Walt Sorg  23:59

From what I've seen on the campaign finance reports, the two candidates are pretty even when it comes to fundraising, I think Myers probably outrace Scotland a little bit, is the spending pretty much the same as it even Steven in that district.


Simon Schuster  24:13

It more or less is Meyer does have an advantage. And see this is where these outside groups come into play. They have financial resources at their disposal, that are on orders of magnitude higher than what campaigns can bring to bear and when it comes to advertising in their districts. And so the participation of one group that believes that it's a good investment to get involved in a race can completely upend the financial landscape. And so a lot can change in the next 11 days, although this will air after that, but I think it's going to be interesting to see if there is sort of an influx of organizations that come in and try to concentrate some of this power and move the needle right before election day. I think that remains to be seen though,


Walt Sorg  24:57

with the massive growth of ads. absentee voting and vote by mail, the campaign voting season has been really stretched out. Has that been reflected in the timeline for campaign spending compared with the previous elections?


Simon Schuster  25:11

Yes, it's a completely different structure. And I think that, you know, the political consultant Corps is not necessarily familiar with how to adopt this, at least not in Michigan, in other states that have broader had broader early voting availability, and had been more broadly adopted in the past, the techniques are sort of there. But Michigan is sort of new to the curve on this. And what essentially we've seen is an initial spike. As absentee ballots were disseminated at the end of September, when it was really important to as people were getting those in the mail, potentially filling them out right away, that they were hearing a lot from these campaigns, and these organizations that want to reach out to voters. That said, there's sort of a dip afterwards for we sort of hit a plateau still an extraordinarily high level of spending, but relatively less so than we saw at the end of September. But now as we move towards in person voting and Election Day, you can see the obviously a another wave of advertising it, you're already well into that climb. I think the important thing for people to note is that we don't really have a lot of good information as to how absentee voters treat their ballots, once they're in their hands. clerks have an idea of when they get them back, but we don't know necessarily all the time when they receive them, how long they keep them, and then how quickly they are returned. And so that's sort of a black box for some of these advertisers. If you have an absentee ballot, a campaign can't know whether you're just going to sit on that, let it spoil and and go vote in person or turned in last moment. And so for them, I think more is better.


Walt Sorg  26:46

Let's go down to the Michigan house races for just a moment, Democrats hoping to flip the house to democratic control. But three of the four seats that they are really targeting are in Oakland County, and TV advertising for the Detroit Metro market is incredibly ineffective in terms of cost effectiveness. When you're talking about a State House District versus the cost of buying an ad on Detroit TV. are they spending a lot of TV there? Are they using other means to get their message out?


Simon Schuster  27:13

We haven't seen some significant TV spending. Although I would say that some of these more competitive races, while in northwestern Wayne County, there's also the 100th. And fourth up by Traverse City wishes, has seen an enormous amount of spending there as well, that said, Yeah, TV can be expensive in these races. But the thing is, it doesn't have to do with the campaign's the campaigns are not usually the spenders on this usually the caucus committees in fact, are they can accept much higher individual contribution limits, then candidate committees can and they can spend unlimited amounts to support the candidates that they choose after the primary season. And so what we've seen cycle after cycle is that because Michigan is, has a relatively few number of competitive seats, the House Republican campaign committee and its counterpart of the Democratic side, then essentially do tactical strikes where they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a short time period on these districts and essentially make these campaigns much larger than they are purely because they have those financial resources.


Walt Sorg  28:16

You and I are in the Lansing market. And we've been seeing Angela, we're on TV. Like she's the anchor of the six o'clock news just about you. They're spending so much money on that race, which is a one of the few districts that the republicans think that they can pick up.



Yes, I will point out I'm currently in the midst of a project with M live where we're tracking political mail is a plug for that project, you can share your political mail with us by sending it to mail at MC FL. org. And I bring this up because one individual who's dropped out a large quantity of mail to me is in that district and is received no less than 32 mailers from Angela woodware. And the sheer volume of mail that he has received is astounding. It's essentially the same sum. These mailers are exactly the same, and will receive them four or five times. And I think that in a year where in person canvassing and those sorts of more traditional outreach methods are really constrained. This is where campaigns are diverting their cash, whether it's effective or not, I don't think people really know


Walt Sorg  29:17

we've got a another campaign finance filing deadline that has just passed. You're in the process of analyzing those reports for the numbers nerds who don't want to go through the reports themselves, but want to know what's there. Where's your website when they could? when can they find out about what's in there?


Simon Schuster  29:31

Sure. They came to find out actually right now we are automatic. We are updating those totals automatically as they're filed with the state. Our website is MC f If you want to follow the filings as they are filed, you can follow our Twitter account which post those updates. That's MC f n bought. That's MC fn p ot


Walt Sorg  29:53

Simon Schuster from the Michigan campaign finance network. Thank you so much for the information. And I hope you survived the next two weeks.


Simon Schuster  30:00

Thanks, Walter, pleasure to be on.


Christine Barry  30:05

Well, let's talk campaign surrogates while big names standing in for the candidates, Michigan seen a bunch of them in the last few days. We have Eric Fredo Trump popping into Lansing for virtually mask free pep rally his message to the faithful grievances.


Donald Trump Jr  30:22

For whatever reason, the Democratic Party, they want to censor you. They want to go after religion. They want to keep churches shut. They want to take out the words under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. You saw them do that at the convention. They want to take In God We Trust off of our national currency. You've seen them do that. They want to literally kneel every time either the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem, they want to kneel, they want to tax you, they want to get rid of my father's tax cuts. So they want to strip the 20 $500. He effectively gave every person in this country they want to get rid of all the tax cuts. They want to impose another $4 trillion worth of taxes. They want to eliminate oil gas, natural gas, fracking, we've got the lowest energy prices anywhere in the world, but they want to eliminate oil and gas from the United States.


Walt Sorg  31:06

Were you able to count the number of wise and that 45 second burst of malarkey. I mean, just virtually everything he said was an exaggeration or a lie. And that's really their closing message is grievance, which I find fascinating for somebody who's been the President of the United States for four years. It's not a message about what I'm going to do in the next four years. It's about how angry I am over the last four years. But when they go low, we go high. And in Detroit, that men bringing a hometown girl and music superstar into get out the vote they brought in lizzo,


Lizzo  31:37

Michigan is going to be so crucial in how Michigan votes is going to be so crucial between trying to make America great again, or finally bringing America together. They're out there trying to make America great again. But we need to finally bring America together because I don't want to go back to the way it was. And Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will help us finally bring America together. So thank you for going door to door in the face of a pandemic, risking everything on the front lines, trying to save our democracy


Walt Sorg  32:16

is quite a contrast with the Trump message. The Biden message really in the closing days of the campaign is first of all, bringing America together again, unity, which I think is a message that really people want to hear and they want to believe in that with Joe Biden. They can believe that it's something he believes in. Secondly, dealing competently with COVID-19 and dealing competently with the economy. Everything else is secondary to those those three issues. And the Trump campaign is ignoring all of them to be angry about Leslie Saul.


Christine Barry  32:44

Yeah, I think people who are going to vote for Trump are the people who want to be separated from everybody else, for whatever reason, they don't want to be brought together. And as we record this week's pod, Kamala Harris is in Detroit for some events today.


Kamala Harris  32:59

We are all together. We are all together. And you know, these times I know pastor make us feel we were supposed to be isolated and standing at least six feet apart and wearing a mask so we can only see half of somebody's face. But let's Always remember, that's always remember we are all together and we are all God's children. And we are going to get through this together.


Christine Barry  33:24

We've also seen visits in recent days by her husband Doug emhoff, Mayor Pete Buda, Judge, and Lansing hometown hero Magic Johnson. And on Tuesday, Donald Trump returns to the State Bar, bringing his COVID Palooza 2020 Super spread and festival to Lansing airport. Trump is working overtime trying to catch up virtually everywhere, playing defense in a half a dozen states that he won in 2016. And he's playing defense on the issues with polling showing that voters are focused on the pandemic and the economy. And all of the major issues the majority of voters think Joe Biden would do a better job.


Walt Sorg  34:03

Yeah, there's a really good poll that was done by the New York Times and Siena College, which showed that overall, Biden was ahead by nine points. National and of course, we know national doesn't mean anything. It's the Electoral College. But by on issue after issue after issue, they think Joe Biden is in better shape to handle those issues. Now, we can't go through all of them because it would take up the rest of the day. But we will link it to that poll. So you can look at the information but it's on everything from handling the epidemic to handling the economy to foreign affairs, to the economy even which is always been supposedly a strong point for Donald Trump, and for handling even the issue of law and order, and certainly for racial healing and bringing unity back to the country on every one of these issues. By does either tied with Trump, but in the most cases, he leads Trump pretty substantially. So Trump's fighting a really uphill battle much different than what he was fighting in 2016. So for those voters that are worried that this is going to be a repeat of 2016 and all the polls Wrong. There's that secret Trump vote. This is a different election. And this is a different landscape. And I think the pollsters have pretty well guarded in hand.


Christine Barry  35:08

And you know, even if there is that secret Trump vote that we're missing, there are other issues that are good news. I mean, there's widespread support for Biden's renewable energy and infrastructure package, which people are expecting to be an economic stimulus. And that's not the kind of thing that you would if you're a secret Trump voter, you you wouldn't say yes, I support that. In a poll, you would say no, I mean, I don't think it I think it's an indicator that there's more support for buy it. And then there would be if there are a lot of secret Trump voters who are just lying to the pollsters this time around.


Walt Sorg  35:43

You had mentioned there are a lot of surrogates coming into Michigan on behalf of both campaigns, whether surrogates going all over the nation campaigning, but the Biden campaign has got the 2000 pound gorilla of surrogates, and he's now on the trail, and he is hot.


Barack Obama  35:58

I explained that I never thought Donald Trump would embrace my vision or continue my policies. But I did hope for the sake of the country that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously. But it hasn't happened. He hasn't shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends, or treating the presidency, like a reality show that he can use to get attention. And by the way, even then his TV ratings are down. So you know, that upsets him. The thing is, this is not a reality show, this is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously. At least 220,000 Americans have died. More than 100,000 small businesses have closed. millions of jobs are gone. are proud reputation around the world is in tatters.


Walt Sorg  36:55

That speech was absolutely incredible. I easily could have pulled 10 minutes of material from it with no problem at all. 20 minutes for that matter. Barack Obama is the master at filling an opponent with grace and humor in facts. If you haven't seen the full speech, I recommend you take a look at it. We've got a link to it on our website. Christine, what do you think about having Barack Obama out there focusing on Pennsylvania focusing on Florida, basically, the two states that are critical to getting over 270,


Christine Barry  37:23

like you said, Barack Obama has always been very articulate, and he can just tear something apart in a very delightful way, which is clearly what you saw in that speech. And we'll, we'll have it on the website. And it's it harkens back to a time when you know, if you remember, when Obama was elected the first time, there was such a feeling of unity. And I understand there were people who really did not like him. But you could see everything was calm at his inauguration. It was a very gentle kind of coming together. And I think people miss that. And I think they want that. And it's appealing to a center that probably has just felt completely disaffected in the past few years.


Walt Sorg  38:08

But one thing that we know pretty certainly is that we are going to have a record setting vote total, more than one third of Michiganders have already voted.


Jocelyn Benson  38:16

More than 3 million Michigan citizens have requested their balance, which is really an extraordinary number. We've been estimating all along that 3 million citizens would vote early to have reached this benchmark two weeks prior to the polls closing, when we know that number will continue to climb is really quite remarkable. And shows we're well on our way to have more people vote in this year's election than ever before.


Christine Barry  38:42

Yeah, Secretary Benson, who you just heard from is still taking heat on the state's ruling that open carry is out of place in voting places. Now a bunch of Republican sheriffs are basically saying we don't care what you and the ag say we are not going to enforce the ban.



My understanding, as you mentioned, is that Michigan State Police are going to enforce the ban anywhere that local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to do so I in my bottom line is no voter intimidation will be tolerated. And I'm grateful for those partners in law enforcement both at the state and local level, who recognize that as well.


Christine Barry  39:17

Let me take a couple minutes here. First of all, this is not a ban on firearms. It's an effort to protect boaters from intimidation, threats and harassment on election day itself. Those are that's a quote from Secretary Benson. And that's true it's not a ban on firearms. If you have a concealed carry permit you can still carry there are rules about that with schools and churches, whatever if you have a CPL you know that. Now a lot of people don't a lot of people open carry and have never bothered to get a concealed carry permit. But I don't care. Just don't open carry at the polls. It really is intimidating for some people to see these long rifles or to see a pistol strapped to somebody's hip. They don't want to be around That and it could be because they aren't familiar with guns that have never been exposed to them. It could be that they have some kind of post traumatic stress. We don't know. But that's that's just how it works. You just can't openly carry everywhere you want to. And that's obviously my opinion, but it's also Secretary Benson's opinion and Attorney General Dana Nestle his opinion now put all this against the background of Donald Trump saying that he wants an army of people out watching the polls. Let me just take another minute to talk about the difference between a poll watcher and an election challenger. A poll watcher is a member of the public who has to stay in public spaces and not interfere, can't challenge or touch any voters doesn't have to carry credentials, doesn't have to be registered to vote in Michigan, doesn't even have to be from Michigan. And as a poll watcher, you can't challenge anything. But as a poll watcher, if you could open carry, you could stand there with a long rifle all day long, and watch people that, to me, seems like it would intimidate at least some people. Now, as an election challenger, there's a lot more rules in place, you have to carry credentials, you have to be registered to vote. This is usually, you know, these people are usually credentialed by political parties. And you can challenge a person's eligibility to vote based on certain factors. And you can challenge the acts of the election inspectors, I will have a link to the document that outlines all of this. It's current as of this month, and it's on the Secretary of State's website. There's a lot of questions about pole watchers out on social media right now. And I think it's important that people understand that without this open carry ban, these poll watchers that Donald Trump has called for you could have the Michigan you know, militia gangs, the proud boys, whatever, two or three of them standing in a public space at the polls just watching all day long, and that is voter intimidation.


Christine Barry  42:02

All right, well, let's move into some political notes. First up, deja vu all over again.


The Cast of The West Wing   42:13

Eight years ago, the good people of the great state of Michigan elected Bridget Mary McCormack to the state Supreme Court. Six years later, her colleagues on the bench saw fit to name his exceptional jurist Chief Justice. Now we're just up for reelection, and attorney Elizabeth Welch is running for Michigan's other open seat.


The Cast of The West Wing   42:31

Bridget and Elizabeth agree that the courtroom is one place where fairness should outranks strength. We're being right should matter more than being popular or powerful. We believe the courts belong to the people and that the people should know what the courts are doing and how they're doing so Michiganders can now watch oral arguments in real time or the courts official YouTube channel. They have a YouTube channel. Yes, thanks to Bridget. Read the talking points.


Christine Barry  42:59

Okay. The cast of the TV drama The West Wing reunited once again in support of cast member Mary McCormack sister, and Elizabeth Welsh. Effectively, the chief justice and Welsh have been endorsed by two former presidents Jed Bartlet and his successor Matt Santos, joined virtually by nearly the entire cast of the Emmy winning series,


Walt Sorg  43:20

Mary McCormack, by the way was the last voice you heard on that sound clip she played the National Security Advisor on the show. It was interesting that the one major cast member missing from this is East Lansing native Timothy busfield, whose wife Melissa Gilbert ran for congress from in Michigan four years ago, she did have to withdraw before the primary because of health issues. I've been told by several peoples that the reason that Tim busfield didn't participate in these is he's basically a Republican, which is fine, differing political views within the family. Don't hold that against him. I know when I talked with him during the Melissa Gilbert campaign, he made it pretty clear that he did not hang out with the rest of his westwing cast mates. So I think there was a little friction


Christine Barry  43:58

there, whatever. You know, one of the interesting things that came out of the pandemic is a change in the way that celebrities help with fundraising. And with elections in general, you don't have so many celebrities anymore telling you what they think or, or how to vote so much as you have them coming together in these online reunions for cast readings. or, in the case of Stephanie Miller. It's an ensemble presentation, sexy liberal comedy show, I think it's called. It was a live tour before this year. Now it zoom meetings. There. They have many more guests, many more people can attend. And as we mentioned, I think it was last week. Well, you talked about a couple of them just raising so much money for like party organizations or candidates. It's really interesting. I think just how the challenges of this year have changed some things


Walt Sorg  44:45

and we do have one coming up for the Michigan democratic party that's going to be the night before Halloween, Fright Night, and it is going to reunite the cast of the horror flick Fright Night to chat about things ghoulish and otherwise bed Notice I assume when you're talking about things that are bad goals, Donald Trump's name will come up.


Christine Barry  45:04

Well, that one is not expensive. You can chip in any amount to be part of that you could submit a question prior to the event for the cast to answer and while I'm so excited, I can't stand it. Fright Night is one of my favorites. And I just, I just can't wait to see it.


Walt Sorg  45:19

I'm sure. You know how I felt when I saw that West Wing thing for Bridget McCormick. That is my all time favorite television.


Christine Barry  45:26

Wait, it's liberal porn man.


Walt Sorg  45:28

Yeah, it is. Absolutely It is wonderful world's greatest president of the race and Michigan's third congressional district is turning out to be a really big deal. We were talking earlier about the spending in there when we talk with Simon Schuster about the spending on political campaigns. The race to replace Justin Amash and Congress is a big big money affair. And now there's some charges of some campaign finance violations on the part of the campaign of multi millionaire Peter Meyer. It is pretty wonky stuff how they did this but basically a stroke Corporation discharge was being set up whose headquarters is at the Meijer Foundation, the Family Foundation office in Grand Rapids, and it's being used to funnel a lot of the migrant wealth into the Peter Meier campaign. Of course, the Meijer family is possibly the richest in Michigan, and they're doing everything they can in a race, it is very close. And most of the polling shows actually that Hillary sculpt and despite the odds, is running slightly ahead of Peter Meyer in the third district, that would be a flip in the Michigan congressional delegation.


Christine Barry  46:29

And it would be an amazing flip because Hillary does not come across as this really aggressive, negative campaigner. She's running a positive campaign. She talks about positive things. And Peter Meyer has put out some pretty, you know, a couple of nasty ads and I'm just so impressed with how well she is doing against this guy whose name is Meyer, and who's got this allegedly dirty money thing going on in the background. There are two endorsements in the US Senate race. It's this one john James, to nobody's surprise, has the support of the right leaning detroit news. And equally unsurprisingly, Barack Obama has come out for Gary Peters, and he recorded a campaign ad for Michigan's junior senator,


Barack Obama  47:19

when you're president, you learn real fast, who has your back, and then Michigan. That was always Gary Peters. Gary was there every step of the way, helping save the auto industry, protecting the Great Lakes covering pre existing conditions. Today, the progress we made together is under attack. But Gary Peters is someone I trust to protect it. Gary understands what our legacy means for your families. I'm Barack Obama, and I hope you'll vote for my friend, Gary Peters. I'm Gary Peters, and I approve this message.


Walt Sorg  47:50

Nice, very helpful.


Christine Barry  47:51

Yeah, you know, well, you know, we talked a little bit about Barack Obama earlier, I think this is the first time I've ever seen a president and a form or a former president and former first lady campaign so much and so openly for our, you know, the candidates who are on the ballot, and it's really good to see, I think it really shows just the effectiveness of, you know, the Obamas based on their time in office, the things that they did and the way that their character comes across, and it helps that Trump is such a sleazebag that, you know, people a lot of people just look good compared to him. But the second point I would make, you know, we talked about this detroit news endorsement. This was not an endorsement for john James. I mean, technically, that's what it was. But honestly, it was closer to an endorsement for the republican party with john James as the candidate. But it's even more than that. It's a strong statement against the Democratic Party. And the whole thing broke down. As you know, you shouldn't have two democratic senators because it leaves out the republicans in Michigan, they have no representation in the senate based on that. JOHN James will protect the Trump tax cuts. JOHN James is a black Republican. And it's a time of racial sensitivity. And the GOP can't be an all white party and black people need advocates on both sides. And Peters as whites and whites are over represented in the Senate. And john James could stop total democratic control if Biden wins and the dumb Democrats have an agenda of welfare regulation and taxes. I mean, there are some other things in there and you really should read it, I'll link to it. But honestly, it was mostly anti democratic. And, you know, pro Republican, and john James kind of made an appearance.


Walt Sorg  49:34

And that was it. I find it interesting that Nolan Finley now is promoting identity politics as a reason to vote for somebody.


Christine Barry  49:41

Yeah, man who had never ever ever say Black Lives Matters. You know,


Walt Sorg  49:46

my favorite political ad of the week comes from Utah where the two major party candidates for governor actually got together to record a spot in which they urge people to act like adults.


Donald Trump Jr  49:57

I'm Chris Peterson and I'm Spencer Cox. We are currently in the final days of campaigning against each other to be your next governor. And while I think you should vote for me, yeah, but really you should vote for me. There are some things we both agree on. We can debate issues without degrading each other's character. We can disagree without hating each other and win or lose and Utah, we work together. So let's show the country that there's a better way. My name is Chris Peterson, and I'm Spencer caulk, and we approve this message.


Christine Barry  50:27

You know, that's, that's a great ad well, but it leads into our attack ahead of the week, of course. And our runner up features governor Whitmer in a cameo role. It comes from the Midas touch,


Speaker  50:41

you don't want to walk? When did you gotta get your governor to open up your state? When did I say blocked up? Why would I know? Why did you say you don't want to lock up to go push it? in front of a rally people saying I'd never seen such a vicious thing you just said? I would never say that. Why would I say that.


Walt Sorg  51:33

And our winner not in the tech ed, but a closing argument. A look forward voiced by veterans actor Sam Elliott, and run by the Biden campaign.


Joe Biden for President  51:46

There is only one America. Democratic rivers, no republican mountains, just this great land. And all that's possible on it. With a fresh start. cures we can find futures. We can shape work, to reward, dignity to protect. There is so much we can do if we choose to take on problems and not each other. And choose a president who brings out our best. Joe Biden doesn't need everyone in this country to always agree. Just to agree. We all love this country. And go from there. I'm Joe Biden. and I approve this message.


Walt Sorg  52:43

Before we wrap this week, Christian I'd like to say something about the passing of a major figure in Michigan politics, industry and higher education Peter Secchia. Now those were in the know in Michigan Pollock is no pietersite. He was a big time Republican, but somehow someway, he and I became friends. Actually, it happened in George perlas his basement in his rec room, where we would sit along with Attorney General Frank Kelly, the democrat who served as attorney general for 37 years and talk about the world because we were all friends. The three of them got together to raise millions of dollars for Special Olympics because they agreed in the cause. They agreed it was bigger than politics. Pizza, he was one of those guys who could firmly believe in his political ideology and his political issues, and still be a decent human being and still discuss with people that disagreed with him and do it. Do it right. I think a lot of that was because he was a lifelong friend of Jerry Ford, who was a similar sort of human being. Peter was also very generous he gave millions upon millions of dollars to Michigan State University after becoming a self made multi millionaire when he joined universal forest products as a salesman after coming out of Michigan State University, the company was doing about a million dollars in sales. And last time I checked I think they were doing about a half a billion dollars in sales. Now as he moved through the ranks eventually became the chairman of the board and CEO of the company. Pizza he was 83 years old. He passed away from a variety of medical issues but ultimately it was COVID-19 infection that tipped him over. Sadly, his wife of more than 50 years, Joan is now in the hospital. Also with COVID-19 infection. Peter will be missed. He was one of the good guys in Republican politics that made the system work and made it work better.


Christine Barry  54:28

And that is a wrap for this week's pandemic podcast head on over to our website Michigan podcast calm for more information on this week's topics including links, tweets, photos, and pretty much everything you could ask for.


Walt Sorg  54:40

You can email us at EMI or reach out through our Michigan vallecas page on Facebook. Or if you have to, you can go through the Twitter as well although I like to ignore that. If you haven't voted you can vote any day this week except Sunday by going to your local clerk's office or to your precinct on election day. If you have voted, make sure the people around you do the same. See you on election Eve. The Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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