MICHIGAN’S DEMOCRATIC TRIFECTA; STATE TAX RELIEF ON THE HORIZON? MUST NEW MAPS FOR CONGRESS/STATE LEGISLATURE BE REDRAWN?
Question 1): How will Michigan Democrats take advantage of their ‘Trifecta?’ Come January, Dems will control the Governor’s office, the state Senate and the state House simultaneously for the first time in four decades. Then what? Will they forge ahead, crossing off items from 40 years of to-do lists? Can they assume their lengthy drought has finally come to an end, for good, and enact as many of their policies as possible, damn the consequences? Or will they tread lightly, fearing that being overzealous could tempt the fates to shut down the ‘total control’ window once again?
ANSWER 1): They’ll probably split the difference, and may need some cooperation from Republicans to do that, however unlikely that may seem. Are there any historians left in and around the state Legislature? If so, they should remind the new Democratic lawmakers (and even the veterans) why they LOST their majority in the Senate through recalls after only one year (1983) — because they raised the state income tax and, to use then-Gov. Jim Blanchard’s phrase, “spent their money like drunken sailors.” That led to the famous recalls of Democratic Senators Phil Mastin and David Serotkin. The Republicans won both those seats in subsequent special elections and assumed an unbroken series of majorities from 1984 through the end of this year. It also vaulted John Engler into the position of Senate Majority Leader, which he used for seven years to position himself to run against Blanchard in 1990, and beat him. 1983 remains the ONLY year before World War II (1938), until now, when Democrats possessed all three legs of the ‘three-legged stool” — the governorship plus majorities in both legislative chambers. Do they want history to repeat itself? They should be VERY careful. That’s hard to do for a lot of Democrats who have historically had a tendency to “overreach” when they attain power.
Question 2). Should we be surprised if the Democrats don’t pass legislation to send voters relief checks (of $500 or a similar amount) to Michigan households?
Answer 2): Yes, we should be, although instead of relief checks it may be getting rid of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s “pension tax” (a misnomer) and hiking the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). However, that may be a danger for the Democrats for the reasons cited above. The big difference between 1983 and today is that there was a crisis in state finances 40 years ago, with huge deficits, whereas today the state treasury is flush with cash. Republicans have generally had an instinct to save much of whatever extra revenue the state gets by putting it in the ‘Rainy Day Fund” whereas Democrats’ first instinct is to spend it. That might seem like a popular move if they do it now, but maybe not so much later on if there IS a recession, as many predict. Ask incoming state Senator Tom Albert (R-Lowell), who resigned as House Appropriations Committee chairman a few months ago precisely because of his difference of opinion with House Republican leadership over this very issue.
Question 3):. Should we be surprised if Michigan Republicans don’t end up working with Detroit-area African Americans to challenge the state’s ‘new’ House and/or Senate political maps?
Answer 3): This is a very likely development. The African-American community obviously got hosed by the new maps drawn up by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which tore up Detroit and parceled pieces of it to the suburbs to create more competitive districts, most of which white Democrats won, giving them their new majorities. The big issue in the courts will be whether this violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The Republicans will be totally on the black community’s side because it may sway some court (probably the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals) to demand that Wayne Co., at least, be redrawn for the 2024 election, and maybe elsewhere in the state as well. That would give the GOP another bite at the apple.
Tim Sullivan says
First of all, Merry Christmas and a happy 2023 to you, Bill.
Specifically on question 3, reopening redistricting, it will be more fun and games in Lansing and will only make lawyers wealthier. We have the redistricting mess we have because voters were appalled (or at least upset) at GOP efforts to create two “majority minority” districts because of the migration out of Black voters out of Detroit and into the ‘burbs. (Full disclosure, I was an unsuccessful applicant to the Commission).
To minimize disruption, you would have to limit the new districting to Wayne County. Easy enough for Congress (maybe). You would have to take all the 482 ZIP codes in Wayne County (Detroit, Redford Twp., Highland Park, Hamtramck, Harper Woods, the Grosse Pointes, Ecorse and River Rouge) for the majority minority CD. The remainder of Wayne County (the 481 ZIPs) would be a second CD. This puts Tlaib and Thanadar in a food fight, might compel Debbie Dingell to move back into Dearborn. It might also make Dingell’s District centered around the People’s Republic (A2) more GOP friendly. There would be some impact in the districts held by Tim Walberg, Haley Stevens and maybe even further west, but most of that might be tweaking.
You could do the same thing with the state house and senate seats, but that would require changing state house and senate seats in Oakland and Macomb counties. Great fun for political reporters covering the 2024 elections here.
Just as an aside, the North Carolina state Supreme Court (4 – 3 Democrats over Republicans) found the GOP drawn legislative districts there were unconstitutionally drawn to minimize black districts. They used that as a tool to strike down TWO voter approved constitutional amendments (that the 4-3 majority did not like) as they ruled the illegally drawn legislative districts meant that the legislature had no authority to put any of the proposed amendments on the ballot in the first place. But other legislative action done by them was okay. Except with the voters who in the last election put two GOP nominees on the NC Supreme Court.
If 2022 was an unusual election, this could make 2024 even more interesting with the new Justic Bolden who will need voter approval to remain on the bench as she will seek to fulfill the remainder of CJ McCormick’s term. The question is whether the factions of the GOP will come together or continue their fratricide. Film at 11?
Happy Holidays Bill!
Here’s my thoughts………….
Q1. With the Dems possessing all three branches of government, we can fully expect nothing but spending, spending, spending. Hard to believe there is an excess of cash yet hard working people are struggling, especially “essential workers.” It’s incredibly sad to me that there’s jobs everywhere, signing bonuses and payment by the day but ppl still decide not to work that can.
Q2. I don’t think anyone should hold their breath, as I definitely am not, for a $500 relief check. I do believe the EITC will definitely increase but likely will not help those for which it’s intended. I am of the opinion that able-bodied workers are not out there working, and without oversight by our State Unemployment System we dig our hole deeper.
Q3. Redistricting was /is a very big mistake. It’s indeed a mess and left out our voters of color, especially the East Side of the State. Hold on for a bumpy ride in 2024 elections.
Lastly, we need to be steadfast for the generations to come.
Peace and Blessings…. Cheryl
John C Stewart says
Bill, You are on-point again. Just a BIG thank you for thinking through these State Issues.
On January 9, 2023 an Open Forum in Novi for Republican Party State Chair candidates. I am skeptical because my candidate, Pete Hoekstra , has withdrawn.
Thank you for for my favorite Monday morning read-have to read and dictate “Law Practice stuff” first.
Best always, John
Mark Koroi says
There is no “establishment candidate” that has declared for the Michigan GOP chairmanship. My belief is that someone will emerge to carry on the torch of GOP moderation in lieu of MAGA madness. Will Donald Trump endorse a candidate?
Other candidates for GOP chair that have not obtained much attention include Kent Boersema, Mike Farage, JD Glaser and Scott Aughney. Glaser has sent out an e-mail blitz to precinct delegates and Aughney did appear at meeting of GOP heavy hitters recently to announce his candidacy.
Karamo got blown out as an SOS nominee and has little experience to qualify her to run a state political party. Deperno has been facing a well-publicized criminal investigation. Lena Epstein just lost a U-M regents race. My guess is that neither of these three will get the nod from state convention delegates.
Billy Putman did have success in building up the Tuscola County Republican Party and was someone that had been discussed as possible successor to Ron Weiser as far back as last summer. He has been campaigning around the state and contacting regional Michigan GOP leaders for support. My guess is – while not a perfect GOP chair candidate – that Putman may end up being the individual who may win the chairmanship with his message of delegate empowerment and restructuring the state party. That said, someone with establishment support and a famous name as prominent as Pete Hoekstra will likely go far with delegates next February.
Mark Koroi says
You nailed with the Serotkin-Mastin recall efforts as the turning point for the GOP in Michigan.
If there was any pride with the anti-tax movement it was that recall that profoundly impacted Democratic political power in Michigan by securing GOP control of the Michigan Senate for almost forty years.
Redistricting was clearly the controversial political breakthough that benefitted the Dems and walloped both the GOP and black community as well. Ask Sen. Mike McDonald from northern Macomb County who had to campaign in Eastpointe and Detroit – or Pam Hornberger who was likewise defeated in her quest for a Senate seat.
Happy New Year! I expect preemption to go down the drain so that localities can exert more control without interference from state law. Local gun regulations will be on the civic agenda slates, so there will be a patchwork of laws to negotiate, risking jail or worse for carrying a concealed weapon. Guns bad! “Safe Storage” laws, so you have to fumble around in the dark in the middle of the night while your door is being kicked in, unlocking TWO locks, then load your firearm to defend your family. When split seconds count, the police are how far away? A gun in the hand provides more protection than the whole police department on the phone. Duh. “Red Flag Laws”, so a family member, ex-spouse, neighbor, your child’s teacher, or other interested individual can report you to the police and the SWAT team shows up in the middle of the night to shake you down and terrorize your family. Due Process? Fuhgettaboutit! Fourth Amendment? Ditto! Magazine limits, so when multiple home invaders burst in, you’ll only have ten rounds to deal with the threat. Remember the Lansing homeowner who shot four of eight teenagers who suddenly entered his home unannounced? I bet you don’t, because it was on the local Lansing news for one day and it wasn’t in the Jackson paper, which I read daily. I would like to know the details of that! That’s news! That’s human interest! The agenda is to never show how guns protect, defend and preserve way more than they are misused. The dems will wear out their welcome in record time, I predict.
Mark Koroi says
The Dems wore out their welcome in 2008 with their landslide victory and the Tea Party emerged in 2010.
In 2010 all statewide offices went to the GOP in Michigan. The number of statewide voters filing for precinct delegate election as Republicans jumped from 3,000 in 2008 to 8,000 in 2010 – a non-presidential cycle.
Gun rights, public corruption, and immigration were all central themes of the Tea Party agenda in 2010. They remain so today.
The GOP needs a resurgence of a Tea Party movement to regroup.
Matt Crehan says
MAGA Dittos, Mark!
Jack Lessenberry says
Bill makes some very good points (as always), but we should remember that many lawmakers today weren’t even alive in 1983, and many more don’t really know what happened, in that era before the internet.
Also, John Engler was a master political strategist. Ideology aside, today’s Republican Party is largely led by people who are, to put it politely, inexperienced and even unbalanced. My guess is that there was no one like Karamo in the legislature when Bill served, and until recently neither party could have dreamed of nominating any of the statewide candidates the GOP ran this time. The question is, what competent potential GOP chair would want to run a party full of the kind of people the Republicans have now?
Mark Koroi says
“The question is what competent potential GOP chair would want to run a party of the kind of people the Republicans have now?”
The answer: Very few, if any.
Matt Crehan says
ANSWER #1 If the Dems were thinking logically, they would if fact “tread lightly”. But today’s Dems are not the Dems of old. (Can you imagine JFK with a D behind his name in today’s Democrat party?) So watch the pendulum swing even more wildly to the left then can be imagined. For a preface of what’s to come, look and see what happened in other states where the Dems control all three branches of government. Total mayhem and catastrophe. So plan on the Republicans targeting a few of them for recall. That is, of course, if the Republicans can call off their circular firing squad long enough to accomplish any type of coordinated effort to do so much as give correct directions to the Capitol restrooms.
ANSWER #2 Yes, by any means necessary the Dems will be salivating at the opportunity to give checks, funds, gift cards, rebates, coupons, and whatever else they can conjure up to anyone with a pulse. (and if they want to payback some who voted Dem in the past two elections, that will include those without a pulse) This will be done with the idea of retention and recruitment to the Democrat Party. As former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (1955-1976) famously said, “Just give them something for nothing; they’ll become Democrats.”
ANSWER #3 No surprises here at all. Despite the best efforts of the GOP to appeal to, recruit in, and receive votes from those in any inner city anywhere in America, the effort falls flat, and simply isn’t worth the resources expended to produce the result desired. If in fact the districts are challenged, it will merely change the already Dem lines to benefit Dems, and any time invested by the Republicans would be a total waste.
dan murphy says
Unchecked power will lead to “ideological” based decision making by the Guv and the Mich. Legislature .