Political columnists normally don't endorse candidates. Not formally, anyway. They prefer to stand delicately above the fray, and say something like "to be sure, judicial candidate Pimple Prick has never actually studied law and is, in fact, illiterate, while his opponent, Benjamin Cardozo, was selected by the bar review as the best state Supreme Court justice in the nation. Yet, it remains to be seen how the voters will assess their qualifications." That's nice and is, to be sure and indeed, the way I talk most of the time when I am in Ann Arbor, especially over Camembert.
However, I was born and bred in Deetroit, where we call a camshaft a camshaft, and have been known to whack our co-workers and politicians with one for talking outta their asses when their heads know better.
So here's a compromise, a rundown on how I see the races, with enough wiggle room so that if we end up agreeing to disagree, you can go shove it and read the sex ads instead, you hydromatic (Detroit for shiftless) moron.
Governor: Nobody has been as consistently critical of Our Chirpy Perkiness as me, at least not until Dick DeVos began spending the gross national product of Mauritania on TV ads attacking her. Jennifer Granholm has not been much of a leader. Inside Michigan Politics' Bill Ballenger thinks she is the weakest governor since Kim Sigler was booted out in 1948.
I did not vote for her last time. But I will vote for her Tuesday, and here's why. I couldn't care less that Dick DeVos is immensely rich. But he is against embryonic stem cell research, which holds the promise of our medical future and just possibly an economic revival. He also thinks intelligent design should be taught in schools, and possibly, that the sun goes around the earth.
That alone is enough to be a deal-breaker, and there is more. DeVos wants to replace only about half the money the state lost when the Single Business Tax was irresponsibly repealed this summer. That would mean huge deficits and major cuts to education, a move that would indeed doom Michigan's future, and possibly cuts in Medicaid and prisons as well.
Sure, we could decide to compete with Haiti for bragging rights to see who gets to be world champion of malnutrition and sweatshop labor, but I am such a wimp I would prefer coming generations had things a little better.
Last time, by the way, I voted for the Green Party's Doug Campbell, who seemed to have some interesting economic ideas. This year, I took a look at the Greens' platform summary. It is mainly about the war, which governors of Michigan have zero control over. (If we did try to recall our National Guard, Washington could federalize them in a heartbeat.)
They also call for Michigan to issue its own currency, which is about as realistic as asking for West Bloomfield to get a seat in the United Nations. More worrisome is that the Greens want to decrease our population by 400,000. Hmmmm. I don't know how they plan to do that, but I know how other nations have. (What is that smell, mama?) I don't think so.
Senator: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, the Republican nominee, complains that freshman U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow hasn't gotten very much done. Well, of course she hasn't; she is a newbie in the minority party from a state the Bush administration doesn't much like.
She has drawn attention to the prescription drug problem, if in a theatrical way, by helping seniors buy cheaper drugs in Canada. She has also shown a dismaying lack of courage and common sense this year by voting for Bush's neofascist (there is no better word for it) Military Commissions Act.
Her explanation was, if anything, worse than her vote. "I understand the distrust of the Bush administration, which has frankly shown a flagrant disregard for the law," she wrote a constituent. But "if we had not passed this bill, our military would not have been able to move forward with trials against suspected terrorists now in U.S. custody." So she doesn't trust 'em, yet she voted to give them the authority to do what they want to.
Great, Debbie. But Bouchard would have voted the same way. He does not strike me as a right-wing ideologue, no more so than your average, not-very-intellectual, bright cop turned Reagan Republican. Indeed, as a legislator he voted against John Engler's moves to close mental health hospitals. Bouchard would probably be relatively moderate. But think about this:
The U.S. Senate is going to be very closely divided. John Paul Stevens, at 86, is the Supreme Court's oldest and most liberal justice. If he goes, the balance on the court, and the majority will go with him that keeps keeping abortion constitutionally protected to name just one key potential decision.
Any doubt about what kind of justice George W. Bush would nominate, especially after he tuned Jesus in from the fillings in his right bicuspid? Mike Bouchard would be a reliable vote for any Bush nominee. Want to risk that when there is a chance the Democrats might win the Senate? Not me.
Ballot proposals: Proposal 1 protects conservation and recreation money from being looted. (Vote yes.) Proposal 2 would repeal affirmative action. (Vote no.)
Support Proposal 3 if you think we need to blast little mourning doves out of the sky and litter our lands with more lead pellets. (Hey, our ancestors hunted the passenger pigeon to extinction; now's our chance!) Proposal 4 would prevent your local corrupt city council from taking your house so the mayor's brother could build a car wash. (Vote yes.)
Proposal 5 would prevent the Legislature from further cutting funds to education in this state. Every "good government" type and business greedhead wants you to vote no. They say it is improper to take away the Legislature's role in this. However, I know too many members of this Legislature. (Vote yes.)
Legislator I most wish I could vote for: State Rep. Marie Donigan (D-Royal Oak) has fought hard for regional transit and for equal rights for everybody. She is a landscape architect who gave up a good job for public service, and works hard at it, has other good ideas, and is a very good human being.
Here's someone you should know about: Michael Murray is a 37-year-old lawyer and U.S. Marine who just got back from a tour in Iraq. The struggle for democracy there so inspired him he thinks it might be worth a try at home. So he is running for the Wayne County Commission as an independent. If you live in Canton, Belleville or townships south, you can vote for him.
And I think you should. Why? He's smart, a fresh voice, and may actually have some new ideas about local government. (He wants to fix the local roads, imagine that.) His wife collected signatures to get him on the ballot while he was over there, which sounds like something Jimmy Stewart would have liked.
Running against him is Kevin McNamara, son of the old Democratic political boss, who already gets to make noise as a Schoolcraft College trustee and a member of the SEMCOG (Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments) board.
Oh, yes, there's also Loren Bennett, who as GOP candidate for lieutenant governor last time had all the impact of a stone going through a chicken. If there is any place where politics could use a breath of fresh air, it's Wayne County.Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org