Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Race For 2010 Starts... Now!

Actually, it starts this weekend at the Detroit Regional Chamber's policy conference at Mackinac Island. All the pretty show ponies will prance around at the various lavish parties as they shmooze and booze and line-up political and financial support to position themselves for a race that will start in earnest at midnight, Nov. 5th, 2008.

We have entered the age of the endless campaign, and the endless fundraising it takes to run a campaign in this day and age. Remember, it's not about your qualifications or what you have accomplished, or what your plans are for your time in office - it's all about lining up the money, honey. And don't you ever forget it.

At least seven Democrats and 10 Republicans are said to be pondering a run. The names run from the familiar -- former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, Ficano, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak on the Democratic side and Republicans DeVos, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, Attorney General Mike Cox, U.S. Reps. Candice Miller, Mike Rogers and Peter Hoekstra, state Sen. Mike Bishop and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Then there's the more unfamiliar possibilities -- like Flint Mayor Donald Williamson, Domino's Pizza Chief Executive Officer David Brandon and Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee.

"Everybody wants to get in early and they want to get out front to build support," said Ed Sarpolus, a veteran pollster who now works for the Michigan Education Association. "They're all going to be vying for attention."

Most of the names on the list make your skin crawl - even some on the Dem side. Let's save that knife fight for later, shall we? Instead, let's laugh at the Republicans, because that's infinitely more fun.

If they had any brains in their head, they would run Terri Lynn Land. She is the only one who can come close to passing herself off as a moderate; by the time 2010 rolls around, and, assuming there is any justice in the political world (which is probably an incorrect assumption), Brand Bush Conservative Republicans will be thoroughly discredited and back on the fringe of the political landscape - but you won't be able to convince DeVos of that. The guy is as stubborn as he is clueless, and if he wants to run, he will drive everyone else off the field once again with his ability to self-finance his campaign.

For 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, the conference is a reminder that he is a formidable prospect at least partly because of his ability and willingness to pour millions of his own dollars into his campaign. DeVos spent more than $35 million of his own money in his losing bid two years ago.

"I just don't see anyone willing to invest in the amount of fund-raising that they would have to do to challenge him if he gets in," said Lansing political consultant Craig Ruff.

Not only that, no one can come close to the mud-slinging tactics of mastermind Betsy and the others that would hired by Team DeVos to destroy the competition. Dick wants to play, watch the others slink away into subservience to the owners of the Michigan Republican Party. Or, we could watch the whole thing go up in flames as they fight each other over the next two years. A Hoekstra - DeVos throw down might be particularly entertaining.

As far as the tally on the bank accounts at this point (minus DeVos), Candice Miller has the lead with $1.1 million stashed away. She won't be at the conference - can't figure out whether that is an astute move or political suicide; a lot of this is all speculation at this time, of course. Second on the list is Bob Ficano at $885,000 - and, in a move that is sure to bring up your breakfast, he has hired John Truscott to help with fund-raising. As far as the others-

Other potential gubernatorial candidates with big war chests from both campaign funds and political action committees include: Rogers with $660,993; Stupak with $480,029; Hoekstra with $347,143; Dillon with $260,022; Bouchard with $212,005; Bishop with $157,578; and Cherry with $152,651.

So, while all you politicians preen your feathers and count your coffers and court the lobbyists at your grand getaway this coming weekend, try to keep in mind the people out here that are struggling with mortgage foreclosures and job losses and soaring food and energy prices. You know, the people you supposedly serve - because right now, we hate your guts.

"I don't see this conference as a debutante's ball," Ruff said. "There is so much dismay with politics and politicians right now that it wouldn't necessarily serve the interests of the politicians this year to have fund-raisers. Business people are just appalled by what's happened in the last year whether ... the inaction in Lansing or the problems with" Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The legiscritters are leaving early this week to attend this shindig, leaving the energy bill, the water compact, the budget, countless other things that would help the "struggling families" of Michigan, unfinished, as they run off to party hearty.

What the heck, you can wait a bit longer, can't you?