Michigan’s 2024 U.S. Senate Election; Tax Relief; and Immediate Effect
Slotkin, who won a third term in the House last November, has been signaling this announcement since Stabenow first said she wouldn’t run for a fifth term. Slotkin is no stranger to Washington D.C., having worked for the National Security Council, and the U.S. Departments of State and Defense during the administrations of George W. BUSH and Barack OBAMA.
Question 1): What are Slotkin’s chances? Is she really the candidate who would give the Democrats their best chance to keep Stabenow’s seat? If not, who might be better?
The Republicans would have to come up with some charismatic, out-of-the-box figure like former seven-term Congressman Mike Rogers, who is thought to be toying with the idea of running for the Senate or even President, even though he hasn’t been elected to anything in a decade. Interestingly, when MSU Trustee Dennis Denno’s “Friday Morning Podcast” was on the air back in 2017, he had Slotkin on as a guest when she first announced she would run against Bishop. Slotkin professed on air to be a great admirer of Mike Rogers and said she would never contemplate running for Congress against him, but Bishop was another matter. The only downside for Democrats in Slotkin’s running will be recruiting an equally strong candidate to hold her Congressional seat. There are already a half a dozen aspirants contemplating a campaign to become the Dem nominee next year, including former state Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr., state Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Twp), Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, and Ingham Co. Clerk Barbara Byrum. Former state Senator Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), whom Slotkin defeated in a hard-fought race last year, has said he will take a second crack at flipping the seat to the GOP.
Question 2). Regarding a potential Republican U.S. Senate nominee against Slotkin or any other Democrat, does the GOP even have a chance?
Answer 2): Probably not, since the Michigan Republican Party is weaker now than at any point in the past in the past 70 years, during which time the GOP has won Senate elections only three times (Robert P. Griffin twice, E. Spencer Abraham once). However, sometimes a candidate may appear out of nowhere, perhaps with a lot of personal wealth, who can surprise everybody and prove to be an electable nominee. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin comes to mind. However, this hardly ever happens in Michigan. When it does, it usually takes some major help from the top of the ticket, like someone of the same party who is popular and is running for President or Governor. Democrat Prentiss Brown came out of nowhere in 1936 to be elected U.S. Senator on FDR’s coattails. Republican Charlie Potter of Alpena pulled a big upset win in 1952 when Ike was first elected President in a blowout. That’s how rare this phenomenon is.
Question 3): Are the Republicans more likely to emerge as political winners or losers now that they have refused to help majority state Senate Democrats get Immediate Effect for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s massive tax plan, thereby preventing her from sending $180 checks to Michigan tax filers?
Answer 3): Republicans clearly think they should emerge as winners, and common sense logic is on their side. It’s hard to imagine the electorate being infuriated by being denied a laughably measly $180 stipend when voters know the state is sitting on a $9 billion surplus. Also, Republicans are pointing out they have already passed a law (back in 2015) that would give the public a much bigger tax break that a vote for Immediate Effect would have destroyed. GOP lawmakers also observe, with truth, that Whitmer and the Democrats wanted to deny taxpayers a looming tax break worth potentially billions over time. Even worse, the GOP argues, Democrats instead want to scuttle that tax break by giving it to a handful of large corporations favored by Whitmer. How could the GOP be wrong on this one? By losing the ‘messaging’ game, with major help from the news media. Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) and House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Emmett Twp) are trying to make sure that doesn’t occur, but it’s happened before.
Question 4): Last week, minority Republicans in the state Senate blocked majority Democrats from getting Immediate Effect on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s massive tax plan designed to stop a rollback in Michigan’s income levy from 4.25% to 4.05%. The GOP stonewall kept Whitmer from sending out $180 ‘relief’ checks to all of the state’s tax filers. Does this ‘obstruction’ hurt Michigan Republicans? Or does this hurt Democrats for making them look like weak, inept losers who can’t get their signature tax policy proposal enacted even when they have control of all of government, as a pliable news media keeps telling us?
Answer 4): Neither party is likely to suffer any damage, at least for now, mainly because Immediate Effect (I.E.) is an extraneous oddity. Debate over rules governing I.E. are not understood by most of the news media and the general public. The I.E. controversy is ‘inside baseball’ that few comprehend or care about. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important, however. It is, and it may come into play again later in the legislative session. In this instance, however, Senate Republicans realized that the idea that the public is panting for a pathetic $180 check is preposterous. $180 ‘relief’ checks won’t be the central issue; the prospective cut in the state income tax is what the voters will be keeping their eyes on. If Democrats are perceived as the party trying to take away a permanent income tax cut that would deliver far more than a single $180 check in order to give corporate welfare to China, they may have problems defending that next year in Macomb County and Downriver.
As for I.E. and its future, longtime Lansing attorney and gubernatorial adviser Richard McLellan has some thoughts that he has posted in the “Comments” section of The Ballenger Report:
“I have another suggestion; change the I.E. requirement in the Michigan Constitution.
“A public act under the present Constitution does not become law until (a) 90 days after adjournment sine die of the Legislature, or (b) With a 2/3 vote on I.E. in both chambers
“Back in the day, the 90 days after sine die made sense in the pre-Internet era. Michigan was an agrarian state, and it often concluded business in the early summer when there were deadlines. Thus, the bills enacted would take effect before the end of the year. Immediate effect was used only for urgent matters where 2/3 of the members of both the House and Senate would agree.
“But when the Democrats took over (both chambers, in 1965), then-Speakers Joe Kowalski and Bill Ryan hated the deadlines. Ryan said he could accept being beaten if he did not have the votes, but “didn’t want to be defeated by the clock.” Ryan started the process of keeping the Legislature in session until late December so he would have more time to enact his bills.
“This led to the consequence that most public acts (without I.E.) would not take effect until 90 days into the next year. The legislators then started voting I.E. on most bills, undermining the very purpose of the provision. Here is what a bipartisan constitutional amendment could look like: (1) Provide that every public bill enacted will take effect in 90 days after the governor signs it unless (a) It is given a later effective date [sometimes there is a reason, e.g, to make the law effective on, say, Jan.1], or (b) With immediate effect after a 2/3 vote on a roll call vote.”
Of course, to change the Michigan Constitution would require a 2/3 vote of each chamber to put it on the ballot and approval of the state’s electorate in a general election.