Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero focused Saturday on get-out-the-vote efforts in heavily Democratic Detroit, while Republican hopeful Rick Snyder rallied supporters seeking to turn a lead in recent polls into a win on Election Day.
Bernero, the Democratic Lansing mayor, started his day in Snyder’s hometown of Ann Arbor before stopping in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac for a rally at Monument of Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
“The power is in our hands,” Bernero told the crowd. “Let’s go out and make it happen.”
But it’s Detroit where Bernero and his running mate, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, were expected to spend most of the weekend. After appearances Saturday aimed at getting voters to the polls, he scheduled a trio of evening stops during the city’s annual Angels’ Night anti-arson campaign.
Snyder, who held dozens of town hall meetings as a candidate, appeared at his final one of the campaign Saturday morning in Flint before embarking on a series of rallies along a route of about 200 miles through the northern Lower Peninsula. Running mate state Rep. Brian Calley was with him on the ride.
“It’s really critical and it’s more than just motivating people to get to the polls, but motivating people to get out there and do the work of the campaign,” Calley said by phone following a tailgating stop at the Bowling Green-Central Michigan football game in Mount Pleasant.
An EPIC-MRA poll released Thursday showed Snyder leading Bernero 55 percent to 37 percent, with 4 percent backing one of three third-party candidates in the race and 4 percent undecided. Still, the Ann Arbor businessman has urged supporters to take nothing for granted and to help get others to the polls Tuesday.
“I’m going to e-mail everybody on my list to get out and vote,” said 65-year-old Angela Clement of Oakland County’s Commerce Township, who attended a Republican rally Friday at a small airport hangar in Waterford, about 25 miles northwest of Detroit. She described herself as a conservative, not a Republican.
In Pontiac, Bernero supporter Ray Alexander planned to make phone calls and knock on doors to help get voters to the polls in support of the Democrat’s candidacy. While the vote itself is important, the 49-year-old said turnout also will affect perceptions of how important Pontiac is to lawmakers.
“If a large number of people aren’t voting, we don’t get attention,” said Alexander, of Pontiac, who works with special education students.
The winner of the gubernatorial race will succeed Democrat Jennifer Granholm and inherit a state mired deeply in a recession. Voters will decide other races including attorney general, secretary of state, the state Legislature and the Michigan Supreme Court. And there are several competitive congressional races.
“We’re making the voter contacts and we’re talking to people,” Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Hoff said of the final weekend push. “We’re knocking on their doors. We’re making the phone calls.”
About 3.8 million voters across the state will turn out, according to the secretary of state’s office. That’s 52 percent of Michigan’s 7.3 million registered voters and similar to the turnout in the 2006 gubernatorial election. About 5 million Michigan voters participated in the 2008 presidential election, or about 68 percent of registered voters.
“Everyone is out there working very hard, very aggressively, to make sure we get people to the polls,” said Michigan Democratic Party spokesman John Tramontana.
Absentee ballots also have been cast, but those aren’t tabulated until Tuesday. Sue Desteiguer, elections director for Kent County in southwestern Michigan, said area clerks reported absentee ballots initially were being sent back at a low rate, but returns have been picking up in the last two weeks.
“I don’t know if that’s an indicator of a higher turnout or just people who want to vote ahead of time and not go to the polls.”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APNT 10-30-10 1739EDT