Election Day: August 2010

Notes from the field

The Chronicle will be spending this primary election day visiting as many of the 30 polling places in wards 1, 4 and 5 as we can – those are the wards in which city council races are being contested this year among Democrats.

vote here city of ann arbor sign

Sign outside the Michigan Union Building.

[If you're still doing your homework on candidates, click here for The Chronicle's election coverage to date.]

Polls are open until 8 p.m. We’ll report results as we hear about them, filed on The Chronicle’s Civic News Ticker.

If you see us out and about, give a shout. We’ll shout back. The fun starts after the jump.

7:30 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 6: Cobblestone Farm (2781 Packard). Incumbent Margie Teall is greeting early voters. She reports that upon arrival, she found that signs for her campaign and for mayor John Hieftje had been moved into the middle of the nearby baseball field. She moved them back to the polling place entrance. A woman walking past says she voted for Teall and Hieftje, saying they were the “voice of reason and stability” – she liked how things were going with the city, and didn’t see any reason to change.

Jennifer Hall, housing manager for the city/county Office of Community Development, arrives – she says she’s there “just as a member of the voting public.” A man wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt emerges from the polling place, located inside Cobblestone Farm’s main building. He says that any morning is a good one when it starts with the democratic process. Teall reveals that she was a huge Pink Floyd fan in high school and college. Rock on.

It’s worth noting that Cobblestone is the only polling place, at least to The Chronicle’s knowledge, where you can also find pigs rolling in mud, chickens and goats.

7:45 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2: Bach School (600 W. Jefferson). Voted as number 32. City attorney arrives as part of his election day inspection tour.

8:05 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 5: St. Clare Church/Temple Beth Emeth (2309 Packard). It’s sprinkling now, and people are walking briskly from their cars to the polling place. One volunteer from Ned Staebler’s campaign for state representative is handing out literature. When she offers it to a voter who’s passing by, he says “I know who he is – that family goes back a long way here.” He doesn’t indicate whether he’s a supporter. The volunteer reports that she’s been out since 6:30 a.m. Another Staebler volunteer back at Cobblestone Farm had been out since 4 a.m., walking the district with about a dozen others to hang campaign literature on doorknobs.

One voter tells us she voted for Teall and Hieftje because she likes their positions on issues. Another voter later reports our encounter on Twitter. It doesn’t appear that anyone is using the small St. Francis of Assisi chapel to reflect on their decisions.

8:15 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 1: Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth). Stephen Ranzini is standing on the correct side of 100-foot line wearing a Jeff Irwin button on his tie. Ken Nieman, the library’s associate director, comes out to remove campaign signs from the library flower boxes on the William Street side of library building. That’s not the public right of way, he says. Signs in the tree pits survive.

8:30 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 1: Michigan Union (530 S. State). Dead pants. Two voters so far.

8:35 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 3: University of Michigan Coliseum (Fifth & Hill). The sound of a jackhammer comes from the vicinity of the nearby Fingerle Lumber yard. You can hear it from inside the polling place because the doors and windows are wide open – there’s no air-conditioning here, and it’s hot. One poll worker says that in the winter, they bring duct tape to put around the window frames to keep the cold air out. So far, 32 people have voted. No one is using the exercise equipment that’s crammed into the room.

One poll worker describes the Mary Street polling place, which he says is used as an aviary when not set up for voters. It’s only a few blocks away and is worth a look, he says.

8:50 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 2: Mary Street Polling Place (926 Mary St.). Upon arrival at Mary Street, we encounter half of the six people who’ve voted so far. They include Julie Weatherbee and Bob Droppleman, who help fill us in on the history of the small, ivy-covered building – it’s the only remaining city polling place that is still in use for its original purpose. When not used on election day, it’s rented to the Bird Center of Washtenaw County – Weatherbee says they brought a baby robin there once. The bird folks have to clean the room before election day, and poll worker Tom Bletcher reports that you can smell the bleach.

Later, Weatherbee sends us a photo of a note she’d described during our conversation, reflecting the bird/voter cohabitation.

9:30 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 3: Community High School (401 N. Division): Ten voters so far, but none of them in sight. A city clerk staffer drops off absentee voter ballots for scanning. There are no separate AV counting boards this cycle. Unrelated to that, a poll worker does a few quick tap dancing steps – in sneakers, but you can tell he knows what he’s doing.

The clerk staff reports several humidity-related issues citywide with voting machines. The humidity makes the paper ballots “puff up.” She also reports  16 voters at the Community Center where she’s just dropped AV ballots. Election staff commence feeding AV ballots into machine. There are six ballots.  Always heartening to see democracy unfold inside the walls of “Commie High.”

11:15 a.m. Ward 1, Precincts 5 & 6: Northside Elementary (912 Barton Drive). It’s hot in the school gym, where two precincts are handling voters. A poll worker from Precinct 6 says that for as long as anyone can remember, the precinct tables had been in the same spots – until this year. Precinct 6 was told to set up in the former location of Precinct 5, and vice versa. No one there knows why. As he’s relating this fact, a voter walks in and stops by the table. As she overhears his description, she says, “Oh, I’m over there, then!”

Because it has more full-time residents – as opposed to students – Precinct 5′s turnout is higher: 97 voters at this point, compared to 76 for Precinct 6. Those tallies include 51 absentee ballots that have been counted for Precinct 5, and 32 for Precinct 6.

Upon hearing that we’re headed to Arrowwood next, a poll worker says, “Tell Bill that Phyllis says hello!” Her husband works the poll there: “He’s the cute guy with his slippers on.”

11:35 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 10: Arrowwood Hills Community Center (2566 Arrowwood Trail). We’re momentarily flummoxed – no one here is wearing slippers. Bill is identified and reports that he didn’t bring slippers today – his brown shoes look plenty comfortable, though. There’s air-conditioning here, and a Foosball table, but no one is playing. They’ve had 151 voters so far, plus about 55 uncounted absentee ballots. Mayoral candidate Patricia Lesko had voted there earlier.

A young girl, maybe 7 years old, walks in with some adults. A poll worker asks if she’ll be voting today. When she shyly shakes her head no, he says they’ll give her an “I Voted!” sticker anyway.

11:55 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 9 and Ward 2, Precinct 6: Clague Middle School (2616 Nixon). Another hot school gym. Standing on the sidewalk outside the school is Ward 1 city council candidate Sumi Kailasapathy and a volunteer with her campaign, along with a worker from the Pam Byrnes state Senate campaign. As we’re talking, the Byrnes campaigner gets a call on his cell phone – it’s a redirect from a robocall that started Monday afternoon. Callers get an automated message saying the Democrat Byrnes is being supported by Republican Dick DeVos. The message asks them to press a number to register their objection – and the call is then redirected to one of Byrnes’ campaign staffers. The worker reports he’s had dozens of calls starting Monday around 4 p.m. While we’re there, he gets three more.

Turnout is heavier here: 201 voters in the Ward 1 precinct, including absentee ballots. For the Ward 2 precinct, there have been 128 walk-in voters, plus roughly 80 absentee ballots that hadn’t yet been counted. Kailasapathy says her campaign has registered a lot of new voters, and that they’ve seen a strong showing from the ward’s Chinese residents. A fire truck rolls up and two firefighters get out to chat with Kailasapathy and her campaign volunteer.

12:25 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 7: University of Michigan Pierpont Commons (2101 Bonisteel). You have to walk past a sushi bar to get to this polling place, and though there are dozens of students in the dining area of this north campus building, we encounter no one in the walk down the long hallway to get to the room. Here, there have been only 11 voters so far, plus another 11 absentee ballots. Poll workers reminisce about the crush of lines they had during the November 2008 presidential election. Until this year, the polling place was located at Bursley Hall, a student dorm. Earlier this year, university officials asked the city to move its polling places out of the dorms, citing security concerns.

One of the polling workers remembers a talk The Chronicle gave to the Elderwise program a year ago. She asks if we still think there’ll be another daily print newspaper in Ann Arbor within the next five years. Did we say that? Yes, we did. Another poll worker offers that maybe The Chronicle will be such a publication. You never know.

1 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 3: Second Baptist Church (850 Red Oak Drive). An apparent newcomer to the state opens with the question: “Does this state have open primaries?” He wants to know if he needs to be registered to vote as a member of a particular party in order to participate. The answer: No, he doesn’t. Also, there’s a slight alarm at needing to “apply” to vote. Assurance is given that the application form is separated from the paper ballot.

Poll workers are handling a spoiled ballot from someone who apparently accidentally filled in votes for both primaries. The voter must fold it in half and place it in a special envelope, then re-try with a new ballot. Voting is a success.

Poll workers are “keeping their wits sharp during lulls” by plotting the extermination of the flies, which are buzzing about. One poll worker issues an edict that the flies should be caught but not killed. A cup is located. Around 90 people – but no insects – have voted so far.

1:15 p.m. Ward 5, Precincts 4 & 5: Slauson Middle School (1019 W. Washington). Jeff Irwin, who’s running for state representative, and Lou Glorie, a city council candidate, are both greeting voters in the parking lot, standing in the direct sun. Irwin says the work to place door hangers on homes went through the night last night. He’s being judicious with his time on election day, allocating time for polling locations for the morning, noon, and evening “rush,” but continuing to knock on doors at other times.

He greets a voter, who tells him that she thinks we’ll get good representation with either him or with his opponent, Ned Staebler. Irwin says he’s not there to say anything bad about Ned. The voter says she’s not heard Ned say anything bad about him, either, and that it’s been a good campaign.

Inside the polls, the first question to voters causes some to hesitate: “5-4 or 5-5?” The precinct maps on the wall help solve the problem.

3:15 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 11: Forsythe Middle School (1655 Newport). There’s a steady flow of voters here – 358 have come through in person, plus 163 absentee ballots so far. One man asks if he can walk around the school a bit. He says he was a student there when it was MYA – after he gets the OK to take a stroll down the hall, someone asks, “What’s MYA?” They’re told by another voter that it stands for Middle Years Alternative. The man returns and says, “I don’t recognize anything.” It’s apparently been remodeled. We wonder if he recognizes the image of Lúthien Tinúviel that’s been painted on the wall.

A couple walks in. The poll worker looks at their matching last names and jokes, “Do you two know each other?” The woman replies: “57 years as of Aug. 14 – if he makes it!” They both look hale and hearty.

It’s a sign of veteran poll workers that several of them have thick seat cushions for their metal chairs. One worker says that by 5:30 p.m., “it really makes a difference.” They’ve also brought snacks – in this case, fresh green beans from one of the worker’s gardens. She offers one to her co-worker. “No thanks,” he says. “I’m driving.” She then offers some beans to The Chronicle. We gratefully accept the crudité .

3:40 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 9: Haisley Elementary School (825 Duncan). The trash can in the lobby of Haisley is littered with crumpled campaign literature – Warren, Irwin, Staebler – plus some empty coffee cups and the backs of those “I Voted!” stickers. There have been about 250 voters, plus another 75 or so absentee ballots.

Some kids arrive with their moms, and get a little rambunctious. A poll worker tries to divert their attention to a tank of goldfish. The children aren’t much interested, but The Chronicle is. The aerator is a skull that opens its mouth to release air bubbles. Nice.

4 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 8: Skyline High School (2552 N. Maple). It’s a long walk from the parking lot to the school entrance, up some stairs to the second level then down a long hallway to Skyline’s cafeteria. We encounter Marianne Rzepka, The Chronicle’s garden columnist who’s working the polls. She reports that 336 people have voted, including absentees.

One voter is ready to insert her ballot into the voting machine when she’s told that you can’t vote in both the Democratic and Republican primary. “Who’s idea is that?” she says. “I’d rather not vote!” After some discussion, poll workers suggest that they “spoil” her ballot (the term used when the ballot is voided). They tell her she doesn’t have to vote for every race, and that is enough to convince her to vote again, picking just one of the parties. “I’m not a party person,” she says.

4:40 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 10: Abbot Elementary School (2670 Sequoia). Yet another stuffy school gym – this one has skylights, and sun in streaming in. One of the election workers is sitting on the floor, processing absentee ballots. They’ve counted 272 votes so far.

A voter brings in an absentee ballot she’s completed, hoping to turn it in. She’s told she can’t do it there – it has to go directly to the city clerk’s office. But they offer to “spoil” the ballot so that she could just vote in person while she’s there, and she agrees.

Five o’clock approaches, and things pick up – there’s actually a line of people waiting to vote, for the first time in all the polling places we’ve visited.

Outside, a worker for Jeff Irwin’s campaign looks tired and hot, but remains upbeat. He’s wearing an Irwin T-shirt, with another, non-political one slung over his shoulders. He has to put it on over his campaign shirt whenever he goes inside to check polling numbers. He said they’ve been heartened by the turnout in the precinct, but acknowledges that it’s a tight race, and it will be a long night.

7:00 p.m. With an hour of voting left, that’s over and out for The Ann Arbor Chronicle from the polls. Now for a quick rest before collecting up results.

Results for elections:

  • A live Google Spreadsheet we’ll update with results from the field: [link]
  • The Chronicle’s Civic News Ticker
  • Washtenaw County clerk’s website of results: [link]


  1. By City Worker
    August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am | permalink

    I find it interesting that you can’t access a2politico or votelesko.org from the city computers. I haven’t been able to for the last few days.

    Nice work Heiftje.

  2. By Mark Koroi
    August 3, 2010 at 12:14 pm | permalink

    To City Worker:

    Good grief! I cannot imagine why the City of Ann Arbor would engage in such censorhip.

    Maybe King John was concerned that such conduct of downloading campaign information by city employees may violate Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

    But then again, did he also block his own site?

    I would speculate not.

  3. By comm.man3000
    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm | permalink

    I couldn’t access a2politico yesterday morning & am not a city worker… wow, Hieftje IS powerful.

  4. By James D'Amour
    August 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm | permalink

    As of 2:45 PM, I was voter #197 in Precinct 3-8 (Pittsfield Village). Workers were counting absentee ballots, but not sure any were fed into machine (not familiar with procedure here).

  5. By James D'Amour
    August 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm | permalink

    On a “silly” note, discovered “out of district” yard signs of candidates on Pittsfield Elementary school grounds (one within the “no-campaign zone” chalk line of 100 feet). They represented candidates NO ONE in the precinct could have the opportunity to vote for today…

  6. August 3, 2010 at 5:08 pm | permalink

    5-4 at Slauson was busy this morning. One previous election there were no signs pointing the way to the obscure basement entrance. Another time I was actually turned away because the poll workers were convinced I needed a driver’s license to vote (you just need government issued photo ID). But this time I had little trouble.

  7. By Mark Koroi
    August 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm | permalink

    Does anyone have any inkling via exit polling how the mayoral or council races went?

    annarbor.com claimed they spent hours this morning questioning voters at polling places and could not find one voter who supported any challenger.

  8. August 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm | permalink

    What kind of systematic no-sparrow-shall-fall system has the Chronicle set up to give us the latest election returns?

  9. By sally m
    August 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm | permalink

    I’ve voted at Slauson for nearly ten years and without fail, I first go to the wrong door and have to backtrack to go in the lower level, then spend several minutes completely confounded by whether I’m precinct 5-4 or 5-5. For the record, at 10 a.m. there were more poll workers there than voters.

  10. By Dave Askins
    August 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm | permalink

    Re: [8] “What kind of systematic no-sparrow-shall-fall system … ”

    Our plan is to publish via the Civic News Ticker some unofficial results based on ballot machine tapes as they get pulled in different precincts, and when all the results from a particular race are settled, we’ll summarize in an article.

    I’ll be using a spreadsheet to accumulate and tabulate those ballot machine tape results, which I might just as well make publicly viewable, as long as you asked: [link]

    The county’s website actually doesn’t lag that far behind the tapes — they tend to come a couple hours later: [link]

    That’s more the technology end of things — but you may have been inquiring more about the human assets required to collect the information from the tapes? We’ll do some targeted collection in person, but ultimately will rely on one of the candidate encampments who generally have someone at all precincts to collect the information from the tapes.

    I imagine that you might be especially keen to get a read on early counts from Ward 1 city council? Left to my own devices, I’ll pick the precinct for manual tape retrieval that doesn’t require that I pedal a huge distance up a giant hill, of which your ward has many. But if there’s some precinct you think would serve as a better bellwether than others, let me know.

  11. August 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm | permalink

    Thanks for using the Civic News Ticker and making your spreadsheet publicly viewable!

    For the First Ward race, I suggest precincts 1-8, 1-5, and 1-10 as bellwethers. They are large residential precincts, and precincts in which neither Council candidate resides.

    If you have to choose a *single* precinct, I suggest 1-8. I have felt right along this this precinct would be the key to victory.

  12. By Dr Data
    August 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm | permalink

    A much more balanced story about the election day. aa.com visited fewer precincts and almost claimed the quote they had from a random voter represented the precinct, perhaps the ward or city.

    Interesting to have counts of voters and comments from the poll workers who often have a good feel for turnout if they’ve worked lots of elections.

    I’m happy with your coverage even though you missed my precinct. You were close at Slauson.

  13. By Mark Koroi
    August 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm | permalink

    Look for 4-7 to be a bellwether precinct in the Teall-Eaton race.

    It traditionally has the highest total voter turnout.

  14. August 3, 2010 at 7:59 pm | permalink

    Iacta alea est. The polls are now closed.

  15. August 3, 2010 at 9:21 pm | permalink

    Results (partial) for 1-5 and 1-6:

    Staebler 110 Irwin 193
    Warren 239 Partridge 3 Byrnes 71 Write-in 1
    Lesko 61 Hieftje 267 Write-in 2
    Sumi 139 Sandi 184

    Staebler 60 Irwin 73
    Warren 115 Partridge 3 Byrnes 21 Write-in 1
    Lesko 26 Hieftje 118 Write-in 3
    Sumi 62 Sandi 80 Write-in 1

  16. By Leah Gunn
    August 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm | permalink

    The winners are:
    State Senate: Warren
    State Rep: Irwin
    Mayor: Hieftje
    Ward 1 Smith
    Ward 4: Teall
    Ward 5: Hohnke


  17. By cosmonıcan
    August 3, 2010 at 11:43 pm | permalink

    It’s interesting that the Governor’s race has trended to the left of the ticket on both sides, but did the right-wing crowd cannibalize each other or does this show a statewide shift?

    If anyone has parsed the state numbers, opinions please.

  18. By Mark Koroi
    August 4, 2010 at 12:35 am | permalink

    Rick Snyder’s victory can be largely attributed to his connections to Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser. The fact that several right-wing candidates in the gubernatorial primary, such as Bouchard, Hoekstra, and Cox, split that vote was a second factor in Snyder’s victory. Recall that Snyder at the beginning of this year was tied in the polls with the hapless Tom George at about 2% before initiating an ad blitz.

    I do not she a “statewide shift”.

    Joe Hune, for example, a 30-year old Hamburg Township resident with a pro-firearm and anti-abortion agenda who flaunted his connections to the Tea Party movement, won the 22nd District State Senate Republican nomination by a 2-1 margin tonight in that district’s primary. He will be a shoo-in this fall to defeat the Democratic nominee in that heavily Republican district. He is being hailed as one of the rising young stars of the Michigan Republican Party.

    His campaign website contains endorsements of many prominent Republicans.

    It was noted at a recent Republican rally that the number of those who have filed for Republican precinct delegate ballots statewide has risen fron 3,000 in 2008 to 7,000 this year; the increase is attributed to the nascent Tea party movement.

  19. By cosmonıcan
    August 4, 2010 at 12:44 am | permalink

    re # 18: Thank you for the analysis.

    Dave: On your spreadsheet, does “Other” represent write-ins solely, or are no-votes counted too?

  20. By cosmonıcan
    August 4, 2010 at 12:45 am | permalink

    Sorry, I mean no-votes as left blank.

  21. By Dave Askins
    August 4, 2010 at 12:52 am | permalink

    Re: [19]

    When I set up the spreadsheet, I wanted it to be flexible enough to accommodate whatever other numbers might be available. In actual fact, however, those numbers under “other” are just those tabulated as write in.

  22. By Mark Koroi
    August 4, 2010 at 1:19 am | permalink

    Yousef Rabhi has won the Democratic nomination for an open County Commission seat by only one vote!

    Mr. Rabhi is a 21-year old LSA senior at the University of Michigan. He has been active in Michigan Peaceworks – an organization that was co-founded by local civil rights activist Henry Herskovitz.


  23. By cosmonıcan
    August 4, 2010 at 2:31 am | permalink

    Using only Ward 5, Precinct 11 as an example, from the County web site linked above, I counted these votes:

    Governor — Democrat = 666
    Governor — Republican = 149

    Total votes for Governor = 815

    Mayor — Democrat = 648
    Mayor — Republican (write-in) = 7

    Total votes for Mayor = 655

    I am terrible at math, but for that one precinct alone, assuming that everyone voted in a Gubernatorial race, that appears to mean that 160 people, or 19.6%, did not vote for anyone for Mayor.

    If that is the case, and presuming a lot of people did vote for the lesser of two evils, what does that mean for November?

  24. By cosmonıcan
    August 4, 2010 at 2:46 am | permalink

    Sorry, forget that last post #23.

    Seems all I did was count crossovers in that Precinct. I said I was terrible at math, it shows.

  25. By David R
    August 4, 2010 at 6:58 am | permalink

    I’m a liberal Democrat but I couldn’t vote for Bernero since he took money from Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun, in exchange for opposition to the Detroit River International Crossing. Instead, Bernero supports a new privately owned bridge crossing, i.e. one owned by Maroun. This Blagojevich style politics is grotesque, and if Bernero is already doing things like this during his campaign, it would get far worse when he’s in office. Someone convince me to vote for Bernero, cause right now I can’t see myself doing so in the general election.

  26. By David
    August 4, 2010 at 7:23 am | permalink

    Congratulations to the Democratic process and Congratulations to all of the local election winners. It was one of the best local primaries in a long time as there was a slate opponents who had significantly different views from the incumbents. The voters have spoken and it is obvious a large majority are very happy with the current city council, mayor and their policies.

    You wouldn’t know this if you only relied on local blogs and discussion boards for the city’s political pulse. While the blogs/discussion boards provide great forums for on-line discussions, it calls into question their relevance in understanding the majority view of the community. It is starting to look like they are becoming a forum for the opposition and not the elected leaders.

  27. By David
    August 4, 2010 at 7:25 am | permalink

    David R: I am an independent who tends to vote Democratic. I also cannot see a reason to vote for Berneno. I really like your comparasion to Blago.

  28. August 4, 2010 at 10:52 am | permalink

    @26 David — it is overreaching to draw the conclusion that a large majority of the populace is very happy with the current Council leadership. The opposition slate was severely handicapped by a Mayoral candidate whose reputation for polarizing behavior made her a problematic candidate. Hypothetically, might a Rick Snyder Democrat have fared better?

  29. By David
    August 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm | permalink

    Fred, you propose a plausible rationale for the results, but the results clearly show the direction the voters prefer. If so many people are dissatisfied with the current administration and if the Mayoral candidate was seen as inadequate by the dissenters, why didn’t someone else step up to the challenge?

  30. By Rod Johnson
    August 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm | permalink

    The comparison to Blagojevitch seems pretty tenuous (and kind of trollish). Give me any evidence that that kind of corrupt quid pro quo is happening (what Daily Kos commenters can imagine doesn’t count). According to the Free Press, Moroun gave $13,600 to Hoekstra and Cox, $25,000 to 50,000 (depending on whether you count PAC money) to Bouchard, and a whopping $6800 to Bernero.

    Is this kind of campaign finance bingo really the make-or-break issue for anyone? How about Bernero being pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, pro-labor? Or his support for the state bank idea? Does the fact that Snyder got $2.78 MILLION from Target? Should we scrutinize that connection proportionately to Bernero’s $6800 from Moroun?

    When a genuinely progressive candidate gets the Dem nomination in Michigan, as opposed to the hacks and time-servers that the party usually throws up, and random internet “liberal democrats” start throwing around corruption accusations on multiple sites, it’s hard not to suspect that there’s a little astroturfing going on.

  31. By Rod Johnson
    August 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm | permalink

    Er, “what about the fact,” not “does the fact.” Darn computers.

  32. By Rod Johnson
    August 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm | permalink

    Oh, and David (not R) #29: I suspect you’re right, but I think it’s hard to gauge what “the voters” prefer from such a low-turnout election. Primaries are always skewed toward the highly-interested voters. If the Hieftje-Lesko race happened in November things might be very different.

    I think everyone (except the incumbents) thinks our one-party primary-based election system is broken when it comes to determining the true will of the people. Are we just stuck with it forever?

  33. By David R
    August 5, 2010 at 9:16 am | permalink

    Considering that Bernero is opposed to a government financed Detroit International Bridge crossing, but instead favors a private party like Maroun to own such a bridge, suggests a bribe. By the way can we stop the name calling !! Terms like trollish are silly name calling.

    Yes the campaign finance bingo needs to be scrutinized, especially if a connection can be made between money donated and policy positions taken.

  34. By Steve Bean
    August 5, 2010 at 10:15 am | permalink

    “By the way can we stop the name calling !! Terms like trollish are silly name calling.”

    As the kids would say: Fail. As Byron Katie (www.thework.com) would say: Turn it around.

  35. By Rod Johnson
    August 5, 2010 at 11:20 am | permalink

    No, *you* suggest a bribe. You seem to think that the only possible reason someone could be against DRIC is corruption, but *all* the candidates, Dem or Repub, were against DRIC, except Dillon–including Snyder, who got no contributions from Maroun. Right here on this very site we’ve heard a lot of arguments against exactly the kind of “public-private partnership” that DRIC represents. (Bernero: “When the private sector is willing and able to build and operate a new bridge, why should we commit enormous sums of taxpayer resources to accomplish the same goal?” Sound familiar?) Whether you agree or disagree, this could be a principled position against spending public money where there’s a private investor willing to take on the job.

    Campaign finance is all about money flowing to candidates who support the positions of the contributors. It may be a corrupt system, and I have no love for Matty Maroun, who is as sleazy an operator as there ever was. I’m not saying Bernero is right on DRIC, but to start throwing around accusations of bribery and comparisons to Blagojevitch over a $6800 contribution is BS. We saw exactly this meme from an increasingly desperate Dillon camp during the primary campaign (google “msuryanj” for an example). Trying to make this minor issue, which *both candidates agree on*, a deal-breaker, and to suggest corruption on zero evidence (unlike the Blago case) sounds awfully familiar.

    And attacking candidates based on who supports them is lame–remember Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and ACORN?

  36. By David R
    August 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | permalink

    So knowing that Matty Maroun is sleazy as you put it, why would Bernero accept money from him ? Now there’s the real BS. Someone like Maroun therefore gets to represent his viewpoints to Bernero because he donates $6800. I’d say that makes Bernero a cheap date in comparison to the other candidates. This is not a criminal trial here, I don’t have to give Bernero the benefit of the doubt that he is not accepting a bribe. Accepting money from Maroun while opposing the Detroit River International Crossing gives the appearance of accepting a bribe.

    In fact based on the info. you have given, all the candidates who received money from Maroun were against the Detroit River International Crossing, and the candidates who didn’t receive money from Maroun, Snyder and Dillon, were for or open to the idea of the Detroit River International Crossing.

    There’s no way I can prove a quid pro quo, since I don’t have access to emails from Bernero, nor know what’s going on in his head. How silly to expect me to have access to such information as if I were in a courtroom. But if Bernero has a principled reason for opposing this bridge he needs to express that in context of him receiving money from Maroun, who owns a business making money from a private bridge crossing, and is actively lobbying to prevent such a bridge crossing from being owned by the government. Canada has already stated it would pay for a lot of the construction of such a bridge crossing.

    There’s lots of economic benefits such a bridge could have for Michigan. Maroun who owns the private bridge crossing has done little to maintain the bridge he owns. Maroun has used his economic power to stop another bridge crossing from being developed. Basically, Maroun wants to maintain a monopoly, at the expense of the local economy. There are multiple articles in the Metro Times newspaper about the way in which Maroun has bullied local governments to maintain his bridge business.

    Moreover, future trade between the US and Canada is expected to grow making such a crossing ever more important.

    As far as I can see Bernero is not making a principled stand here, he claims he wants to support making jobs, and a state bank is a publicly owned institution that Bernero supports. But no when it comes to a bridge crossing, this time Bernero is stating it has to be private. Now there’s the real BS.

  37. By Rod Johnson
    August 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm | permalink

    Wow, that’s an insanely low standard of proof. Almost a Fox News standard of innuendo. So, Snyder has many contributions from Republic Parking and other parking industry companies that depend on public money. And several contributions from the insurance industry, which as governor he would be responsible for regulating. Why aren’t you exercised over those? Why is DRIC the only issue that matters?

    Reminder: Snyder *opposes* DRIC, just like Bernero, just like *every* candidate but Dillon did.

  38. By David R
    August 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm | permalink

    I am exercised about all kinds of issues, but this issue is still important, and your comment doesn’t negate that. I am not here to be a cheerleader for Snyder but your post was confusing.

    The fact that you keep trying to dismiss the points I raise, and that you resort to name calling and insulting language tells me more about you than the issues.

    If Bernero takes money from Maroun, and then opposes the Detroit River International Crossing, I suspect something is going on. Firstly, taking money from Maroun is a mistake. Secondly, opposing DRIC is a mistake, and thirdly doing both may suggest a bribe.

  39. By Rod Johnson
    August 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm | permalink

    An admirably concise summary of your claims. Taking them one at a time:

    Is taking money from Maroun a mistake? Perhaps a tactical one, in that it gives the opposition an opening. But guilt-by-contributor is a bad game to get into for any candidate. This rates a *shrug* from me.

    Is opposing DRIC a mistake? I think that’s yet to be decided. There are obvious reasons to fix the bridge situation. There are also obvious reasons not to spend public money on that. (Sound familiar?) That’s why we have politics.

    Does doing both suggest a bribe? Not really. Organizations attempt to influence the outcome of the political process through contributions. That’s politics. That contributions are so powerful is lamentable, but without an identifiable quid pro quo, it’s not bribery. You can speculate, but that’s all you’ve got; in Blago’s case there were very specific and blatant quid pro quos on tape.

    So I think your original claim of “Blagojevich style politics” is disproportionate and kind of a smear job (and “name calling”). And it’s so absolutely on-the-nose identical with the astroturfing some Dillon aides (not naming any names, but they’re out there) were doing before the primary, I think I’m justified in looking askance at it. I certainly don’t think it outweighs all other considerations in deciding who to vote for, but, like the HillaryIs44.com dude, you obviously feel differently.

    (Disclosure: I’m a Bernero supporter, obviously, and a yellow dog Democrat to boot, and although I admire Snyder’s civility and approach to campaigning I think he’s kind of a sham. The idea that Democrats would vote for a Republican because he’s… nice, over a real Democrat kind of boggles my mind. But hey, that’s politics. I’ll shut up now.)

  40. By Rod Johnson
    August 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm | permalink

    …almost. Maybe I just should have said “that’s politics” once and left it at that. :) Shutting up now.

  41. By jcp2
    August 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm | permalink

    Can you remind me what a real Democrat is? Are we not allowed to change our mind?

  42. By Rod Johnson
    August 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm | permalink

    I’m not sure what that means (change your mind?), but by “real” I meant focused the pre-DLC Dem agenda instead of moving right to appeal to moderates and Reagan Dems. It was sloppy of me to call it that, and I apologize for sounding like I think those “other Dems” are less legitimate. I have my differences with them but they’re Dems.

  43. By jcp2
    August 6, 2010 at 7:10 am | permalink

    It’s possible to be a Democrat at one time and then change your mind to vote Republican, even for pre-DLC Democrats. There was a whole bunch of them that did just that in the mid-1960′s.

  44. By Rod Johnson
    August 6, 2010 at 9:54 am | permalink

    Oh, well, sure. I’m not saying people who want to vote Republican should vote Democrat just because. I’m saying people who want to vote Democrat shouldn’t vote Republican just because. :)

  45. By Mark Koroi
    August 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm | permalink

    Re Post#34

    Steve Bean:

    Do you have a campaign website up yet?

  46. By David R
    August 7, 2010 at 12:43 pm | permalink

    Since I am not involved in any local politics, I am definitely not one of those Dillon aides that I assume you (Rod Johnson) believe I must be because I criticized Bernero’s policy issue with respect to the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC). And no I am not trolling on websites against Bernero like you accused me of initially. This is the only website that I have posted my viewpoints politically. I am just a member of the Ann Arbor community who is grossed out by what seems to be Bernero’s corruption, even if I can’t prove it. I don’t like the campaign contributions that politicians accept, that potentially influences policy. And it can take decades to find out that politicians did some nasty tricks, lied, and did indeed accept bribes. I don’t have the resources to find this out, and most politicians know that and use that to their advantage. Questioning a politician’s policy alignment with the preferences of a campaign donor is something we all should do to insure that democracy doesn’t get subverted. The onus of burden is now on Bernero to insure that his policy on the Detroit River International Crossing is not motivated by campaign donations from Maroun.

    I also haven’t made up my mind about who I am voting for governor. I’d like to vote for Bernero, but I am uninspired by his poor verbal communication skills, some of his policy issues, and what seems like an emerging negative campaign style. My initial concern of corruption illustrated by candidate Bernero accepting money from Maroun (private bridge owner) while having a policy position on DRIC which aligns with Maroun’s business interests still holds even if I can’t prove it.The Detroit River International Crossing seems like a good way to help the economy and add jobs. So when Bernero says no to government money support of DRIC, that makes no sense to me. Our country has a long history of government support of large capital intensive projects that helps propel the nation forward economically. And now that we have the Great Recession, this is a good time to do such projects.

    I’d like to hear what Bernero intends to do to generate jobs in Michigan. Instead I am reading emails in which Mark Brewer and Virg Bernero call Rick Snyder names. It is insulting to the voters of the state that Bernero believes ad hominem attacks against a rival candidate are the way to convince us. Also, I am not a yellow dog Democrat, Democratic candidates are capable of being corrupt, or having poor policy choices. Moreover, a multi party system is important because it forces the parties from taking the voters’ needs for granted and treating constituencies with indifference.

  47. By Dave Askins
    August 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm | permalink

    Some readers may appreciate saving a few keystrokes of typing into a search window: yellow dog Democrat

  48. By Rod Johnson
    August 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm | permalink

    OK, fair enough, I apologize for the trolling suggestion (which wasn’t precisely what I meant to say anyway, so double shame on me).

  49. August 8, 2010 at 11:27 am | permalink

    David @29 – for now, you’re right! I accept that not enough voters were dissatisfied with the current administration to make a change, I simply caution against seeing this as a “mandate”. We all know how that turns out! As to why no credible challengers … the strength of the incumbent’s “machine,”, the low wages, the high time demands, all probably play a role.

  50. By TJ
    August 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm | permalink

    Tongue-in-cheek comment going back to the original idea behind this article: when I voted at Slauson, Alma Wheeler Smith was outside endorsing candidates Bernero, Irwin, and (her daughter-in-law) Warren. Gotta wonder: why not her son? Did that mean we weren’t supposed to vote for him? Or that they were confident he would win? I wanted to joke with her about it on the way out, but she was talking to someone so I did not.