Savaged: Recalls! Recalls! Recalls!
Since spring, nearly one-third of Michigan legislators have been targeted for recall — 47 out of the total of 148 in office. It started when citizens, unhappy with what they saw as massive Republican overreach, launched recalls against 27 lawmakers. In retaliation, Republicans launched twenty recalls of their own, all against House members, including against former East Lansing mayor Mark Meadows and State Sen. Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer. This is nearly half of the Democrats in Michigan House. As of now, petition language for the recalls of six Democrats have been approved:
- Lisa Brown (West Bloomfield)
- Jim Townsend (Royal Oak)
- Dian Slavens (Canton)
- Phil Cavanagh (Redford Twp.)
- Tim Bledsoe (Grosse Pointe Farms)
- Brandon Dillon (Grand Rapids)
The Republican Party has been supporting these recall efforts and state Republican chairman Bobby Schostak said in August, “I’ll be so bold to say: Don’t be surprised if we increase our majority.” The Republican Party is in it to win it, as they say.
I contacted the offices of these six Democrats to ask why they think they have been targeted and what, if anything, they are doing to fight the efforts against them. I got only one response. It came from Jessica Tramontana, spokesperson for Rep. Lisa Brown (and wife of Michigan Democratic Party Communications Director, John Tramontana):
I need to direct you to the Michigan Democratic Party to answer your questions. As much as I’d like to help you, we’re prevented from talking about recalls during state time by the House Business Office.
You can email John Tramontana – who is my husband.
Of the original 26 attempts to get recall petition language approved, only 20 succeeded. Twelve are ongoing, the remainder failed to gather enough signatures.
- Brad Jacobsen (46th House District) – ongoing
- Nancy Jenkins (57th House District) – unsuccessful
- House Speaker Jase Bolger (63rd House District) – ongoing
- Mike Shirkey (65th House District) – ongoing
- Al Pscholka (79th House District) – unsuccessful
- Kurt Damrow (84th House District) – unsuccessful
- Joel Johnson (97th House District) – unsuccessful
- Kevin Cotter (99th House District) – ongoing
- Phil Potvin (101st House District) – ongoing
- Patrick Colbeck (7th Senate District) – ongoing
- John Pappageorge (13th Senate District) – ongoing
- Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (17th Senate District) – unsuccessful
- Mike Nofs (19th Senate District) – unsuccessful
- John Proos (21st Senate District) – unsuccessful
- Mike Green (31st Senate District) – ongoing
- Judy Emmons (33rd Senate District) – ongoing
- Darwin Booher (35th Senate District) – unsuccessful
- John Moolenaar (36th Senate District) – ongoing
- Howard Walker (37th Senate District) – ongoing
- Tom Casperson (38th Senate District) – ongoing
A 27th recall attempt, against Representative Paul Scott, was dealt a major blow this week when his appeal of approved petition language was successful. This was the only petition drive to gather enough signatures to get on the November ballot. The ruling this week means that all signatures are invalidated. This was a particularly high-profile recall because Scott’s anti-teachers union stance made him the highest priority target for the Michigan Education Association who contributed $25,000 to recall efforts around the state.
Perhaps the highest-profile recall of all was the one against Governor Rick Snyder. This, too, was unsuccessful.
While the Michigan Republican Party has supported the recalls against Democrats, the same has not been true of the Michigan Democratic Party. After hearing from his wife, I emailed John Tramontana. Although he didn’t answer the questions I asked the Democratic House members, he did answer another question that I asked him. “Given the MRP’s support of these apparently retaliatory recall efforts, will the MDP change its position regarding supporting the recall efforts against Republicans across the state?” I asked. “I’m thinking of both financial and nonfinancial support, neither of which has been given so far.”
His answer: No.
It should be noted that the MDP hasn’t been completely out of the picture with regard to recalls. In August, they solicited help with recalls in Wisconsin and this past week, they sent out a fundraising email to Michigan Democrats to help fight off the recalls against Democrats.
As I have written before, the MDP’s thumb-sitting stance on the recalls is in sharp contrast to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Indeed, this week, the DPW announced it was getting fully in the game.
This is it. This is history.
After weeks of discussion and positive collaboration with grassroots activists like you, today comes an historic announcement. In collaboration with United Wisconsin, the grassroots effort to recall Scott Walker will begin Nov. 15th.
It has become clearer than ever that the people of Wisconsin – the traditions and institutions of our great state – cannot endure any more of Scott Walker’s abuses. To preserve Wisconsin, we must begin the recall of Walker as soon as possible.
We will never know if support from the MDP would have changed the tide in any of these recalls. What can be said is this: recalls in Michigan are difficult at best. Tremendous numbers of signatures must be gathered in an incredibly short period of time. Without the support, both financial and in terms of visibility, of the MDP or another large organization (labor unions, e.g.), their failure is nearly guaranteed. The MDP chose to keep its powder dry for the 2012 election, missing an enormous opportunity to be seen as active and aggressive at a time when Democrats across the state view them increasingly as anything but. Building some good will among Michigan Democrats a year before the elections would seem smart by most measures. But, for the Michigan Democratic Party, not so much.
For more of Chris Savage’s writing, visit Eclectablog.
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