Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beware of big fish wannabes in small ponds

The Detroit News has a story out that has my guard up. The title is this. Tea party groups work to unseat Stabenow. There already is a process for that. It's called a PRIMARY. We will decide the GOP nominee in August.

Invitations are being sent to all eight GOP candidates for a Jan. 14 debate at Central Michigan University, organizers announced. Two leaders from each qualified tea party group will be invited to participate in a Feb. 25 straw poll at CMU to determine who wins the tea party endorsement.

Uniting under the banner, Michigan 4 Conservative Senate, organizers say endorsing one candidate and rallying behind him is the best way to ensure a conservative candidate defeats Democratic incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow in November.

"It's just a way to take a pulse of tea party groups and encourage them to work together and rather than work apart," said Cindy Gamrat, an organizer for Michigan 4 Conservative Senate.

1. What is "qualified?"
2. Who are the designated "leaders?"
3. What is the "tea party?"

That type of talk gets my guard up. It looks like a power move to me.

Speaking for myself, I'm not "tea party." I agree with them more than I don't, but I do things my own way. I've been to a couple of RetakeourGov meetings and met some folks from Brighton Tea Party, but haven't finally contributed to any tea parties. I also am not a member of any leadership there, nor choose to be. I'll stick with being an occasional spectator.

The media talks about "Tea Party" being one singular thing. It isn't. There are hundreds of different local parties with their own personalities and opinions. Some of them are larger and more organized than others. Some are more ambitious when it comes to politics than others. I'm impressed with what I've seen from retakeourgov and their organization at the meetings I've seen. I haven't been to a Brighton Tea Party meeting, but they (along with a Milford group and Retakeourgov) did a good job with the senate candidate forum recently.

Most tea party members I know aren't trying to be "big fish in a small pond." Almost all of them never start out that way. Eventually many leaders or "lieutenants" in these organizations gain a following, get told how great they are, and start to believe their own press clippings. Many, not all, not even most. The good ones stay grounded.

However, this is politics. The definition of politics is "who gets what, when, and how." Power. Power brings out the worst in a lot of people. Politics is nasty for a reason, and nothing can get more nasty than internal political wars (along with local cities, school boards, and townships). Been there, done that, and weary of being involved in it again. I don't know the internals of this, but it's looking like a couple of power moves here.

I don't know much about Cindy Gamrat outside of her being a recent Indiana transplant to Plainwell in Southwest Michigan. Michigan 4 Conservative Senate is the website for this plan. This is modeled after Indiana's attempt to take out the center-left Dick Lugar in Indiana. Dick Lugar however is a Republican. Far leftist Debbie Stabenow is not.

So is this a "Stop Stabenow?" It's not. Stabenow will be quasi one on one (and some 3rd parties) against the Republican nominee whoever it is. This is about "stop Hoekstra." This is an attempt to have a coronation of the favorites of a few people. This is no different than the coronation attempt many establishment folks are trying to set up for Pete Hoekstra.

The question is who's the favored candidate.

"I think it's really disingenuous to have a group of people come together and anoint themselves as tea party leaders and take it further and endorse a candidate," said Patty McMurray, of Birmingham, co-founder of the Michigan Conservative Alliance, which wasn't invited to the straw poll.

Modeled after the tea party unification in Indiana, Michigan tea party organizers say it's important to not only vet the candidates but also the tea party groups themselves. Gamrat has been whittling down the original list of 120 conservative groups in Michigan to ensure their longevity and activeness, and that they are truly a tea party group, not affiliated with a national organization and not a political action committee. Those who qualify are allowed to have two members cast votes in the straw poll. McMurray's group was excluded because it's a PAC, Gamrat said.

Vetted by which people? WHO decides what is "legit?" McMurray's group is punished due to having a PAC? MANY tea party groups have PAC's. It's good organization. Anyone can form a PAC. It's not hard to set up, although it takes discipline to manage properly. Those with a PAC are doing good work. I think McMurray is attacked for supporting Hoekstra.

Currently she expects about 110 people to cast straw poll votes, representing 55 tea party groups statewide.

How large are these 55 groups? How are the votes weighted? Will the locals support this?

McMurray and fellow MICA co-founder, Leisa Audette, are both Hoekstra supporters and feel the event is rigged so Hoekstra doesn't win. Though he co-founded the Tea Party Caucus while in Congress, some fellow candidates have painted Hoekstra as not conservative enough and part of the Washington establishment.

It is rigged against Hoekstra, along as all candidates except one. It's a coronation attempt - the same thing that much of the establishment is doing for Hoekstra.

On a side note, this whole "Tea Party Caucus" in Congress is a joke. This is a case of politicians in DC calling themselves "Tea Party" and trying to pass themselves off as conservatives. I never bought into that talk. Talk is cheap. Votes are what matter, and Hoekstra has a long history of votes. Good and bad. He can stand by those votes and defend them, or admit mistakes if he's changed his mind on the issue. Debbie Stabenow can join the "Tea Party Caucus" if she wants. Does that make her tea party? No way. Talk is cheap. Deeds not words.

Randy Bishop, of the Northern Michigan Patriots, has been actively promoting the tea party convention and openly criticizes Hoekstra. He says unifying behind one candidate is necessary to avoid splitting the vote — as what happened in the governor's race last year leading to a Rick Snyder victory, he said.

"Just as much as much as we respect their choice not to participate we hope they would respect ours to participate," Bishop said of uninterested tea party groups.

By excluding those with a PAC? I'm interested in who Gamrat and Bishop are supporting. I'm more interested if it's the same person, and that is who they and a few others want to win.

The good and bad with tea parties is that many of them are new to politics. The good about that is that the old boys and girls club gets shaken up. The GOP establishment is largely as disliked as the democrats. They want to get involved and make a difference.

However, not all of the "establishment" is bad. Many of us have been involved 10, 20, or 30 years. Many of us are as conservative or more so as the tea party members. We also have a long history of inside baseball and power struggles and good intentions producing bad results. I've seen big fish and small pond syndrome. I've seen folks become yesman to become popular with big fish in small ponds.

That's a danger here I see with consolidation or quasi consolidation attempts. I understand the thought of trying to herd cats or tea party folks to supporting one candidate to stop a Snyder, but:

1. Who decides?
2. What's the process?
3. What's the criteria for the endorsement?

This is a dangerous game that can easilly become more about personalities than about issues. Certain people like to see themselves as power brokers. You get on the right PAC boards and you become "an important person." You can puff yourself up to sound even more important, and can have some yesman who follow you, tell you how great you are, and then try and take your spot in the future. There's also yesmen "leaders" who will automatically "lead" their group to follow whatever some big name wants. That's what I refer to as big fish in little pond syndrome. I've seen it over 11 years of involvement in PACs, C4's, Party, and office politics. Guess what. Most of those who think they are big names, really aren't that important. The ones who puff themselves up in the room, usually aren't important, and deep down, they know it.

I hope the tea parties (plural) stay about ideology, and less about personalities. THAT is their strength. Once they become about personalities and favorites, it's all downhill from there. The cost is respect.

As for this races, I think the primary needs to work itself out over the next few months before any push towards going behind one candidate. I understand the push. Joe Schwarz in 2004 taught a harsh lesson.  Hoekstra I'd vote for over Stabenow easily. No hesitation. Candidates will rise and fall as they are vetted, organized, and make more statements. Our Senate primary is in August. Not February.

Monday, December 19, 2011


One of the better undergrad political science classes I took at MSU focused on polling. There a lot of polls right now with a lot of different samples, in different areas, by different companies, with different results. Polls are educated guesses.

The first thing with a poll to look at is as follows. Is it scientific? If not, it's worthless. The next. Margin of error. Anything over 5% is worthless. Throw it out. If it's got a 3% or 4% margin of error, it's supposed to be considered good. That means if a poll says Gingrich 28, Romney 24, and real numbers are 32-20 or 24-28, that's good. What I mean by real numbers, is also the results from that day. Not January 3rd. If there's movement in that last week, a poll may look way off. It may actually be right - at that time.

Polls when done right, are a snapshot in time of a representative sample of the population covered. A good poll from December 19th, is a sample of the opinions of the population from December 19th. Between now and then, people may change their minds, or the undecideds may all move in one direction, or not. Generally, the larger the race, the better the polls. National is usually closer than statewide, which is closer than congressional. Congressional downward tends to often be quite inaccurate - to the point where state rep/senate races oftentimes don't even use polling. It can be way off. Not always. I was quite skeptical of some 2010 polling in some districts. To the person who told me that we were leading in some of those districts - you called it. I needed to see it to believe it, and I saw it in the actual results. The worst polling however is with issues. Those are almost never right. I've seen issues polled 60-40 in favor end up losing election time on a common basis. I chalk that up often to people lying to pollsters.

The biggest unfortunate aspect with public polls, and we ALL are guilty to some degree here, is with the bandwagon effect. We rely on these polls to shape our voting tactics. That's especially when we want to stop a candidate more than support one. People want to vote for a winner, or they want to stop a frontrunner. I look a whole bunch of polls and look at the momentum, trying to shift through the outliers.

Luckily in Michigan, we AREN'T first. We get to see real results besides opinion polls. Iowa. New Hampshire. South Carolina. Florida. Nevada. Colorado. They will vet candidates and make their decisions. Those are going to shift the polls here, as electability is more apt to be determined.

So when you see a poll, appreciate it for what it is if done right. A snapshot in time of a representative sample of the population covered. From the day the question was asked. That may or may not be the final numbers.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

State House Redistricting - District 47 (HD-47)

State House - District 47
Current Rep - Cindy Denby (R-Handy Twp)

GOP - Cindy Denby (R-Handy Twp),
Dem - Shawn Lowe Desai (D-Howell)

Update 5-26-2012 - We have both a primary and a general in one of my old districts. Harold Melton is a GOP activist who is running. Cindy's a deceptively strong incumbent. She's not a braggart and has a more low key personality that some mistake as weakness. She's a hard worker, and shouldn't have a major problem in the primary, even if Harold is a strong challenger. That's not a shot at Harold, but Cindy is probably the 3rd best campaigner in the county behind Joe Hune and Mike Rogers. Desai has money, but so did Post, and Desai has an even harder district than Post did.

Update 8-30-2012 - Cindy won the primary. 

2010 Results - Old District (47th)
Cindy Denby - 22,713
Garry Post - 10,001

This is one of two Livingston County based districts. It makes some minor changes and contracted due to population growth. The old district dropped Putnam and Hamburg Townships giving them to Bill Rogers. The new district picked up Marion and Oceola Townships from Bill Rogers. The rest of the district stayed the same.

The district actually got safer as Putnam and Hamburg Townships are two of the more marginal GOP areas in the county. I don't think that was due to partisan reasons as I never heard Bill Rogers complain about the new district in public or private, but due to geography. The 47th is more Howell/Fowlerville based, rather than Brighton based. Marion and Oceola Townships are more identified with the Howell area than the Brighton area. Hamburg is mostly the Pinckney and Brighton areas, and Putnam Township contains Pinckney. Redistricting keeps the areas mostly intact, outside of Southernmost Marion Twp. Cindy shouldn't have trouble in the new district, and neither should the next GOP nominee when it opens up.

McCain Obama Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Cohoctah Twp 1046 652 1698 394 61.60% 38.40% 23.20%
Conway Twp 956 689 1645 267 58.12% 41.88% 16.23%
Deerfield Twp 1329 912 2241 417 59.30% 40.70% 18.61%
Handy Twp 1922 1729 3651 193 52.64% 47.36% 5.29%
Hartland Twp 4689 3087 7776 1602 60.30% 39.70% 20.60%
Howell 2068 2160 4228 -92 48.91% 51.09% -2.18%
Howell Twp 2022 1459 3481 563 58.09% 41.91% 16.17%
Iosco Twp 1090 756 1846 334 59.05% 40.95% 18.09%
Marion Twp 3302 2169 5471 1133 60.35% 39.65% 20.71%
Oceola Twp 3694 2428 6122 1266 60.34% 39.66% 20.68%
Tyrone Twp 3362 2236 5598 1126 60.06% 39.94% 20.11%
Unadilla Twp 860 811 1671 49 51.47% 48.53% 2.93%
Total 26340 19088 45428 7252 57.98% 42.02% 15.96%

Bush  Kerry Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Cohoctah Twp 1091 548 1639 543 66.56% 33.44% 33.13%
Conway Twp 1025 540 1565 485 65.50% 34.50% 30.99%
Deerfield Twp 1449 831 2280 618 63.55% 36.45% 27.11%
Handy Twp 2056 1225 3281 831 62.66% 37.34% 25.33%
Hartland Twp 4925 2329 7254 2596 67.89% 32.11% 35.79%
Howell 2499 1751 4250 748 58.80% 41.20% 17.60%
Howell Twp 2202 1134 3336 1068 66.01% 33.99% 32.01%
Iosco Twp 1071 468 1539 603 69.59% 30.41% 39.18%
Marion Twp 3137 1600 4737 1537 66.22% 33.78% 32.45%
Oceola Twp 3513 1768 5281 1745 66.52% 33.48% 33.04%
Tyrone Twp 3560 1917 5477 1643 65.00% 35.00% 30.00%
Unadilla Twp 919 641 1560 278 58.91% 41.09% 17.82%
Total 27447 14752 42199 12695 65.04% 34.96% 30.08%

Last St House GOP DEM Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Cohoctah Twp 819 291 1110 528 73.78% 26.22% 47.57%
Conway Twp 852 259 1111 593 76.69% 23.31% 53.38%
Deerfield Twp 1068 411 1479 657 72.21% 27.79% 44.42%
Handy Twp 1624 571 2195 1053 73.99% 26.01% 47.97%
Hartland Twp 3916 1328 5244 2588 74.68% 25.32% 49.35%
Howell 1624 871 2495 753 65.09% 34.91% 30.18%
Howell Twp 1632 571 2203 1061 74.08% 25.92% 48.16%
Iosco Twp 880 299 1179 581 74.64% 25.36% 49.28%
Marion Twp

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Oceola Twp

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Tyrone Twp 2609 1014 3623 1595 72.01% 27.99% 44.02%
Unadilla Twp 728 380 1108 348 65.70% 34.30% 31.41%
Total 15752 5995 21747 9757 72.43% 27.57% 44.87%

State House Redistricting - District 46 (HD-46)

State House - District 46
Current Rep - Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford Twp)

GOP - Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford)
Dem - Daniel Sargent (D-Oxford)

Update 5-26-2012 - Surprisingly dem primary here.

Update 8-30-2012 - Daniel Sargent won the primary.

2010 Results - Old District (46th)
Bradford Jacobsen - 24,363
David Jay Lillis - 9,241

This is probably the most Republican area in Oakland County after redistricting.

The old district covered Addison, Brandon, Groveland, Holly, Orion, Oxford, and Rose Townships. The new district drops Holly, Groveland, and Rose Townships, and picks up most of Oakland Twp.

This is a safe district going over 55% for McCain (according to Dave's Redistricting) and over 60% in most elections for whoever the GOP nominee is.

State House Redistricting - District 45 (HD-45)

State House - District 45
Current Rep - Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills)

Declared Candidates:
Rep - Tom McMillin (R- Rochester Hills)
Dem - Ted Golden (D-Rochester Hills), Joanne VanRaaphorst (D-Rochester), Douglas Wilson (D-Rochester Hills)

Update 5-26-2012 - Surprisingly a three way primary here. McMillin is extremely disliked by the MEA, so I can see them trying to make a run here.

Update 8-30-2012 - Joanne VanRaaphorst won the primary. 

2010 Results - Old District (45th)
Tom McMillin - 24,974
Mary Ward - 11,815

This district contracted and got slightly less Republican, but should stay ours. The old district covered Rochester, Rochester Hills, and all of Oakland Township. It dropped part of Oakland Township but otherwise stays the same.

The new district is about a 51% McCain district, but Rochester and Rochester Hills is stronger GOP downticket. McCain won it narrowly. McMillin won it by a much bigger margin in 2008 than McCain did. However this area and the Troy area are two districts to keep an eye on for the future. They should stay ours, but they should not be taken for granted as Obama did very well there in 2008. Part of it was an aberration (I consider 08 AND 10 aberrations and floor/ceiling numbers) but it's still something to keep an eye on when it is an open seat.

State House Redistricting - District 44 (HD-44)

State House - District 44
Current Reps - Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake)

Declared Candidates:
Rep - Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake)
Dem - Tom Crawford (D-Milford)

Update 8-30-2012 - Tom Crawford wins the primary. 

Update 5-26-2012 - Surprisingly, there's a primary on the dem side. Tom Crawford's a frequent candidate.

2010 Results - Old District (44th)
Eileen Kowall - 25,714
Phil Fabrizio - 9,395

This district is still a safe West/North Oakland seat based in the White Lake area, although it changes some and contracted with population growth. The old district was made up of Clarkston, Highland Twp, Independence Twp, Springfield Twp, and White Lake Twp. The new district drops Clarkston and Independence Twp, and picks up Milford Twp from Bill Rogers and part of Waterford Twp from Gail Haines.

The district is a 54% McCain district according to Dave's Redistricting, so it is one of the safest in Oakland County.

State House Redistricting - District 43 (HD-43)

State House - District 43
Current Reps - Gail Haines (R-Waterford Twp)

Declared Candidates:
Rep - Gail Haines (R-Lake Angelus),
Dem - Neil Billington (D-Waterford)

5-26-2012 - One primary on the GOP side. Billington is a party switcher and UAW guy, ran as a republican because of the district, and is now a democrat again. He complains about NORC, but it's little wonder why they like someone else. RINO turned dem?

8-30-2012 - Haines wins her primary.

2010 Results - Old District (43rd)
Gail Haines - 17,294
Regina Strong - 9,064

This district is one that got much safer with redistricting. It picks up all of Independence Township, picks up Clarkstron, keeps Lake Angelus, drops part of Waterford, and drops its portion of West Bloomfield. This part of West Bloomfield is much more republican than the Lisa Brown district was, but was real close in the 2008 election. The old district was in the "Good enough to lose" category for democrats. They were competitive, but never won there, even in 2008 when it was a 900 vote race. Lake Angelus is republican, but small. Waterford is competitive. The portion of West Bloomfield was slightly Republican leaning even though the township is strongly democrat.

Independence Township makes this district likely safe or close to it. It's one of the most Republican areas in Oakland County. The Dave's Redistricting estimates has this district at 50.2% McCain, winning by 1,100 votes. Haines won a more competitive seat when it was open.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cain taps out of the presidential race

I'm not surprised about this. Cain's situation is a mess, regardless of whether it is true or not.

From Yahoo news

Plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and marriage infidelity, businessman Herman Cain announced Saturday that he is officially suspending his campaign for president of the United States.

"As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign," Cain said at what was supposed to be new campaign headquarters in his hometown of Atlanta. "I am disappointed that it came to this point that we had to make this decision."

But he added, "Before you get discouraged, today I want to describe Plan B. ... I am not going away. I will continue to be a voice for the people." With that, he unveiled the headquarters of his new website, TheCainSolutions.com.

Cain, one of the first Republican candidates to launch his campaign for the White House last spring, spent most of his run as an obscure, low-polling candidate that was a hit at tea party rallies. But as the Republican field took shape, and it became clear that high-profile party hopefuls like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would not enter the race, Republicans seemed willing to give any of the candidates a fair shake

I don't know if Cain's guilty or not. I am suspicious of the claims to a degree because every single one of them was from his time at National Restaurant Association. Nothing was from his time at Godfather's or Pillsbury or his talk radio show. Maybe he was guilty. Maybe he was guilty only of pissing off some people. The harassment claims have just as much credence as Larry Sinclair's claim about being in the back seat with Obama snorting coke and doing other things (why doesn't the tabloid 'mainstream' leftist media give as much time to that?). They aren't proven and the credibility is in question. Is it possible? Yes. Likely? I'm skeptical. The affair? I still don't know, although that's more likely to be either proved or disproved if there was a 13 year claim. Politics is a nasty business at times. As the unofficial definition of politics from polysci 101 goes. "Politics is who gets what, when, and how." Politics is about power.

Whatever the case is, Cain is out. If you want to ruin a campaign, get some "friend of the program" to hire 5 or 6 women (or men if it is a woman candidate) at different times who have at least all crossed paths with a candidate to claim harassment or an affair. Have them set up news conferences. It doesn't matter if it is true. It can all be BS. In the court of public opinion, when there is multiple accusers, we are guilty till proven innocent. People believe there can't be a semi-coordinated attack from multiple people. They think "When there smoke, there's fire." If I had $100,000 (maybe less) - chump change in a presidential race, to spend on political black-ops, that I didn't have to report, I could set something like this up with any sort of time if I want to go down that road. It's not hard. All I'd need is a good scouting report to find the right targets. $20,000 each can buy a lot, and it doesn't even have to be a direct payment, or something all at once.

Dirty tricks are nothing new. It's a staple of Chicago style politics. Obama won his senate race by getting Jack Ryan (who had young kids) off the ballot because he didn't want his divorce file unsealed. Certain details sealed he didn't want out there. Neither did his ex-wife for that matter. It was Obama's cronies and his media allies.

It's a dirty business, and all of us involved at any level have to be ready for it.

How does Cain dropping out effect things? I don't know. This election has been crazy so far. I had Newt Gingrich as one of the big losers early on because of the straw poll results in Iowa. He's now the possible frontrunner. For now. That could change. I don't see anything for sure at least until Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina make their decisions.

My wild guess for now.


Newt Gingrich. I would not be surprised if Cain backs Newt. They are friends, or at least were until the campaign. If there isn't some falling out that we don't know about, Newt may benefit from this.

Jon Huntsman. If Newt falters when his past comes back, then who?

Could go either way - Romney. At first glance, one could thing this narrows down the "anyone but Mitt" vote. Possible. Another school of thought thinks with Romney avoiding some of the news that it helps him. Some think he's the most electable. I disagree for a lot of reasons, but Cain's dropping could benefit him that way.

As far as the effects regarding Bachmann, Paul, and Perry, I don't see a lot of changes although some may give them a second look. Bachmann and Perry collapsed and have not recovered. Paul will get his share no matter what, but has a problem breaking the 10% ceiling.

We'll see what happens over the next month. I think I'm going to need to take a long shower after primary day (and the general). I had a bad feeling about this really since Mitch Daniels decided he wasn't running, compounded with Pawlenty dropping out after Iowa.