If trial lawyer Geoffrey Fieger wants to make a political comeback, he’s already got a slight lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2018 over ex-state Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-E. Lansing).
Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Schuette holds a solid lead over Lieutenant Gov. Brian Calley in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.
Those are the key takeaways from a Marketing Resource Group statewide poll conducted May 8-11 and commissioned by The Ballenger Report, the state’s top non-partisan political website.
Fieger is a flamboyant attorney who this month is opening a hotel on the Caribbean Island of Anguilla, where he has vacationed for decades. Meanwhile, he’s been running generic TV ads in Southeast Michigan expressing outrage at the current U.S. political climate. In 1998, Fieger won an upset victory in the Democratic primary for governor, but then lost to incumbent John Engler in the general election. He now says he is thinking of making another run when the governor’s seat will be open next year. He leads Whitmer, the former state senate minority leader, by only about two percentage points, 26.2% to 24.0%, in the poll. In third place is Abdul El-Sayed, a former health department official for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, with 8.6%. Those responding Undecided/Refused to Answer/Don’t Know are a hefty 41.2%.
The poll found Fieger holds a big lead in Detroit, with 53% support to El-Sayed’s 21% (Motown has a sizable Arab-American population) and Whitmer’s 9%. Fieger also leads in out-county Wayne, with 46% to Whitmer’s 15% and El-Sayed’s 11%.
Fieger swept the balance of the Tri-County SE Michigan area as well. The survey shows him leading Whitmer in Oakland County, 27%-21%,and Macomb County, 33%-23%, with no support whatsoever registering for El-Sayed in either county.
Whitmer scores best on her native mid-Michigan turf, with 46% to Fieger’s 20% and El-Sayed’s 3%. She also shows a substantial lead over Fieger in West Michigan, the Tri-Cities/Thumb; and Northern Lower Michigan. Whitmer and Fieger are tied in the Upper Peninsula. El-Sayed fails to register any higher than 8% in any of those geographical areas.
Fieger holds leads within the poll’s margin of error among both male and female voters. Fieger also leads Whitmer by a slim margin among younger voters (18-39) and older voters (65+), while the two are virtually tied among voters age 40-64.
There are other announced candidates in the Democratic field, but their name ID is so low that they were not included in the survey
Schuette, who has held numerous offices in addition to his current post of Attorney General, has been positioning himself for a gubernatorial run for a long time. He leads Calley, 32.4% to 11.4%. A third candidate, Dr. Jim Hines of Saginaw, announced he was running a year ago and has been barnstorming the state. Hines claims slightly less support in the Republican primary than El-Sayed does in the Democratic survey, 6.7%. The number of Undecided/Refused to Answer/Don’t Know in the GOP poll is a whopping 50.5%.
In the Republican survey, Schuette holds commanding leads of between 2-1 and 3-1 over Calley in both Oakland and Macomb Counties, with the Lieutenant Governor failing to register any support whatsoever in Detroit or the balance of Wayne County. However, the number of Undecided/Refused to Answer/Don’t Know is nearly three voters out of five in the Wayne County portion (including Detroit) of the Republican MRG/TBR poll.
Calley does best in the Upper Peninsula, with 45% compared with nothing at all for Schuette and Hines, but with 55% Undecided/Refused to Answer/Don’t Know. Calley polls slightly better than his statewide average in his native mid-Michigan and in the Tri-Cities/Thumb areas, with 14% in each, but Schuette triples or quadruples that level of support in those same areas. Schuette also leads Calley nearly 3-1 in West Michigan.
Schuette bests Calley among female voters by nearly 5-1 and among male voters by more than 2-1. Hines fails to score higher than 10% with either gender, even though the Saginaw obstetrician has delivered over a thousand babies. Schuette holds a narrow lead over both Calley and Hines among younger voters (18-39) and a sizable lead among voters who are 40-64 and older voters (65 and older). Schuette also leads Calley among both pro-life and pro-choice voters by better than 2-1. In fact, Hines scores better among pro-choice voters than Calley.
The MRG/TBR survey sample was 44.1% Democratic; 35.3% Republican; and 19.1% Independent. Respondents were split almost evenly between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in the presidential contest last year. The poll’s margin of error was + or -4.0%. Nearly 17% of those polled were from Wayne County; 13% from Oakland County; almost 9% from Macomb County; and the rest outstate.
The survey was taken after U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) announced earlier this week that he would not run for governor next year but would instead seek re-election to Congress.