By Carol Cain
Despite a blistering U.S. Republican Senate contest and tough challenges for Reps. Hansen Clarke, Gary Peters and John Conyers, it was the implosion of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter that stood out with Mark Brewer and others on a panel dissecting Michigan’s August 7 primary.
Brewer, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, appeared on “Michigan Matters” along with Stu Sandler, a Republican strategist, and Bill Johnson, longtime political commentator, to talk about the primary and impact of Tuesday’s results.
“The Congressman McCotter story get stranger and stranger,” said Johnson. “I have had great respect for him, but he just crashed and burned. No one has explained what happened.”
“He didn’t get the necessary signatures and (for a veteran politician) it doesn’t make sense,” added Sandler.
“You will get it,” added Brewer.“There will be a book (written by someone about the saga) and the first chapter will be about the criminal investigation ( led by Michigan Attorney General) Bill Schuette.”
The 11th Congressional District was redrawn in 2010 and covers portions of Western Wayne County and Oakland County. McCotter was viewed as a virtual shoe-in.
But after his team turned in signatures to get on the ballot, irregularities were found and McCotter was ruled ineligible.
Then, citing family concerns, McCotter resigned July 6, ending his term six months early which forced a special election to replace him on Sept 5.
In the Aug. 7 primary in the 11th District, Kerry Bentivolio is the only Republican listed on the ballot. He is up against William Roberts and Taj Syed on the Democratic side.
Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis then waged an impressive write-in campaign on the Republican side to take on Bentivolio. Rev. Drexel Morton, also a Republican, is running a write-in campaign.
“It will be hard for anyone to win a race whose name isn’t on the ballot,” said Brewer, adding the Democratic party has endorsed Syed’s candidacy.
Conversation turned testy when the U.S. Senate contest came up where Clark Durant, Pete Hoekstra and Randy Hekman are squaring off. The winner will face Sen. Debbie Stabenow in November.
Brewer has been vocal in his criticism of Durant’s compensation from Cornerstone Schools in Detroit.
Durant has disputed Brewer’s claims about his pay and said the attacks only prove Democrats are concerned about him.
“I don’t know why Mark (Brewer) is going after Clark Durant,” said Johnson. “He (Durant) doesn’t seem to be much of a threat.”
Brewer added he doesn’t care who wins the Senate primary but is bothered by what he called violations of the law.
In the 14th Congressional District, Clark and Peters are up against Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, Grosse Pointe lawyer Bob Costello and former Rep. Mary Waters on the Democratic side. John Hauler is the only GOP in the race.
Conyers, running a 25th time, is facing state Sen. Bert Johnson, state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, Wayne Westland school board member John Goci and Glenn Anderson on the Democratic side in the 13th Congressional District.
Harry Sawicki is the only GOP on the ballot.
“I fail to see downside of John Conyers losing this race,” said Johnson “I can’t think of too many benefits John Conyers brought to city of Detroit. He is a nice guy but he needs to retire.”
Brewer disagreed, saying Conyers’ role on the House Judiciary Committee shows his mettle and power in Washington.
The regional tax hike for the Detroit Institute of Arts before Metro Detroit also elicited strong dialogue.
“When the DIA was spun off in 1998, it was assumed they would be an enterprise on to themselves. They didn’t say they would then need a tax hike,” Johnson said.
Brewer disagreed, saying the DIA was “one of the finest cultural institutions in the country and is important to the quality of life.”
(You can hear the conversation on “Michigan Matters” 11:30 a.m. Sunday on CBS62.)
Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and Host of CBS62’s “Michigan Matters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)