Thursday, July 31, 2014

Primary thoughts - Campaigns and Prop 1

There's an old saying. Don't shit where you live. I'm seeing a bit of Oakland County type of politics creeping into my county. Sign wars and 9AM Sunday illegal robocalls from organizations that do not even exist.That's not good for the future here in LC. Leave the a-hole behaviors to the "Communications Guru" types.

Of the major primaries here:

I'm speaking here as an analyst and I'm not making endorsements here. I'm also not speaking for LCGOP here.

R - Primary - I think Mike Bishop's going to take this. The NRA endorsement is THE big one in this county. Bishop was the only one to get it. Bishop has the more active campaign and ground game from what I've seen as well. He has the Mike Rogers endorsement and that is still a popular endorsement in this district outside of some of the libertarian factions. Tom McMillin is very popular with the libertarian factions, but will that carry him to victory? I wish both sides would quit using those gosh damn robocalls. I have those things and think they cost votes. NRA and Mike Rogers support carries the day.

D - Primary - Most expect Ingham County treasurer Eric Schertzing to win because he's an elected official. That's very possible, but most people can't name their county treasurer. It's a low-key position. The most active candidate I've seen on the campaign trail is Jeffrey Hank. I wouldn't count out Susan Grettenberger however for "identity politics" reasons as this IS a dem primary which worships identity politics. I haven't been following the dem primary that  closely yet. If I had to predict a winner, I'll go with Jeffrey Hank in a mild upset since I've seen more from his campaign than others.

State Rep:
HD-42 - There were some bitter undercurrents in this primary from the start. While one of the reasons is a poorly kept secret, I'm not going to get into all of that on the blog, especially in my position. Everyone is accountable for their record. The record includes experience, statements, editorials, political office, party office, and ideology.

For awhile there was three people running. Lana Theis, Nick Fiani, and Dale Rogers. There were rumors of a 4th at some point and it ended up being former Argus editor Rich Perlberg. Perlberg's paper endorsed Obama and Kerry. I don't know if that was Rich, Gannett, or someone else. Whatever the case, it's going to have major ramifications. Rich had some of his own editorials as well, some rather snarky, that are coming back to haunt him. Jennifer Hensley searched the Argus archives and found some of his greatest hits. Great Lakes Education Project's PAC pounced on those and fired off two mailings against Rich (so far)

The records from the newspaper made the candidate forums critical for Rich because of doubts about him surrounding the paper's left of center slant. Two issues I think are going to kill him politically. One is the gas tax. It's not popular at all here. The other which isn't mentioned as often, but is even bigger, is abortion. A lot of the establishment vote is going to Lana, not Rich. One of the biggest reasons is life. Rich supports abortion rights. Lana and Nick are pro-life. That issue is a litmus test for a large number of people. It also is an issue that becomes personal quickly. Certain issues with a lot of people don't have room for disagreement. That's probably the 2nd biggest in this county, with the 2nd Amendment being the biggest.

A lot of base voters were who considering between Lana and Nick (Dale has his own base, largely teachers) are now looking to stop Rich because of the combination of the paper's stances, gas taxes, and especially abortion. The comments on taxes and abortion reinforced the fears base voters had from the paper. This turned the primary for a lot of base voters into stopping Rich supporting who they think is the best chance to do so. Some voters on the fence got off the fence due to ideology.
Rich does have a few big endorsements. Bill Rogers, Carol Griffith, and Maggie Jones are the most notable.

Nick Fiani also has some significant GOP support and I can't count him out. He did made one major critical error that I think is making things extremely difficult. In 2013 when he filed, he clicked the $1000 reporting waiver. That tells potential donors that he's not going spend much on his race, and therefore they didn't take him seriously. A piece of advice to all candidates is this. Don't click the waiver unless you almost know for a fact that you plan to stay under it. It's not bad for a small office, but for a larger office, it closes doors that otherwise would be open. I think the $1000 waiver may have cost him a chance at Right to Life's endorsement even though he's pro-life. Nick didn't spend a lot of money on his campaign, but probably had the most free media of all the candidates from his battles on the school board. He's done a good job there with Greg Gray and John Conely. Brighton Schools almost got an emergency manager. Without Nick and John, they might have gotten one. Nick eventually took off the waiver wire. I think he'll do much better than most candidates who raise under 5K for their campaign, but that's a big hurdle to overcome when there is an 80K candidate (plus AFP) in the race. I can't count out Nick after he upset Ken Stahl in the school board election. Most people didn't expect that.

I expect the Right to Life vote to carry the day for Lana, along with those who don't like the paper. It's still a competitive race however.

For all the ideology hype here, I think this race will come down to tone and geography. There are four candidates (and Ted Ring who dropped out), all of whom are conservative. Their styles and background are all different. Dr. Hank Vaupel, Wendy Day, Phil Campbell, and Harold Melton.

The tea party vote is split some, although I think Wendy Day has the majority of tea party vote. Some of it is going to Phil Campbell, Harold Melton, and Doc Vaupel as well. Most of the "establishment" is going to Doc Vaupel, although some of it is going to Phil Campbell and Wendy Day as well. Joe Hune and Cindy Denby are both supporting Vaupel.

Most of the candidates however have their own base of people. I think the west side is going to vote for Vaupel heavily. I think Howell is mostly going for Campbell, but with some significant Vaupel and Wendy Day support. Melton will take some Howell Township votes. Hartland and Tyrone are tougher to call. They are the most heavily tea party areas of the county. That would be Wendy's advantage. Vaupel raised the most money, but Wendy has AFP. Phil Campbell has strong organizational skills and defeated an incumbent to be mayor of Howell so he's not to be counted out. If I had to call this, I think Doc has a very slight edge, although it's anyone's game.  Full disclosure. I'm biased and have a contract with Vaupel.

County Commissioner:
I don't see Steve Williams losing his primary. The Doug Helzerman v Ron Van Houten race will be close. Both of them are elected officials. I think turnout will determine that, and possibly geography as well. Helzerman is from Fowlerville and Van Houten is from Iosco Twp.

Prop 1. I'm a having a tough time with my decision here.It will probably be a last minute decision. If I had to vote today, I'd be a very reluctant yes. I do think whoever drafted this should be fired. While I support repeal of the personal property tax, I do not support earmarking more money from the general budget. The authority apparently has existed since the 70's, so it's already there. I think.

The amendatory act adopted by the Legislature would:
1. Reduce the state use tax and replace with a local community stabilization share of the tax for the purpose of modernizing the tax system to help small businesses grow and create jobs in Michigan.
2. Require Local Community Stabilization Authority to provide revenue to local governments dedicated for local purposes, including police safety, fire protection, and ambulance emergency services.
3. Increase portion of state use tax dedicated for aid to local school districts.
4. Prohibit Authority from increasing taxes.
5. Prohibit total use tax rate from exceeding existing constitutional 6% limitation.
Should this law be approved?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Those "Draft Dr Ben Carson emails?" Don't waste money donating to them.

Found this on yahoo news:

A super PAC that aims to persuade famed neurosurgeon and conservative political activist Dr. Ben Carson to run for president has raised more than $7.2 million since its formation last year, according to documents the group filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.
While much of the funds spent by the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee have been used to build a contact list, for direct-mail fundraising and to buy ad space, there’s one expense that stands out: book purchases.
Over the course of 2014, the group spent about $150,000 buying two of Carson’s most recent books, "America the Beautiful" and "One Nation," which it offers to supporters as gifts to encourage donations, committee co-founder Vernon Robinson told Yahoo News.
Between February and April, the committee paid $105,761.78 to HarperCollins, the publisher of Carson’s 2013 book "America the Beautiful." In May and June, the group spent another $44,453.35 on Carson’s more recently published book at Joseph Fox Bookshop in Philadelphia, FEC documents show.
While the group’s purchases only account for a fraction of Carson’s total book sales, each book has spent several weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. ("America the Beautiful" landed there in 2013, long before the group was formed.) Carson’s latest book, "One Nation." topped the best-seller list in June and nearly outsold former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memoir, "Hard Choices," multiple news outlets reported last week. Publishers and advocacy organizations have used bulk purchases to boost the standing of books on best-seller lists in the past.
Carson, a retired doctor known for his work in pediatric neuroscience at Johns Hopkins Hospital, skyrocketed to prominence in conservative political circles in February 2013 after he delivered a diatribe against President Obama’s health insurance law during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast while the president sat just a few feet away. Carson’s address was followed by a bombardment of requests for him to speak at conservative conferences and a chorus of activists urging him to run for president. In August 2013, Robinson and John Philip Sousa IV — the great-grandson of the "Stars and Stripes Forever” composer — launched the super PAC urging him to run.

Here some of the problems. 

1. There is NO indication that Dr Carson is going to run for president. This money is raised for a "might" not a "will." 
2. This is a Superpac. Superpacs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates. They can only run independent expenditures. 
3.  According to the FEC, this Superpac spent 6 million of that 7 million that was raised. What the hell are these guys doing? If these guys want to draft Carson, they better run ads for him if he does run (which I doubt). At the last filing (April), there was less than a million in the bank.

At best, this is a bad use of political funds. At worst, it's a scam. This reminds me of these national "Tea Party" or "conservative" groups that don't do a thing to help candidates outside of run their mouths or hold a press conference.  They raise money to pay their consultants....themselves.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Road taxes shows differences in 42nd District race

The Argus has a story about the roads, gas taxes and the candidates for the 42nd District here in Livingston County.

Not surprisingly, I highly disagree with one of them regarding the gas tax. There's been a militant push among many in the media and political class supporting the gas tax going back to 2007. It has taken seven years and luckily it still had not increased over the 36-40 cents it is currently (depending on price at the pump).

Perlberg said the state must address two decades of neglect of Michigan’s roads.
Lawmakers continue to seek another $1.2 billion in annual road funding.
“I would achieve that with a combination of increased gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. That could be tempered in the future if we have sustained economic growth, which will produce additional dollars into our general fund,” he said at the recent forum.

I'll give Rich Perlberg credit for being out and open about his support for this. It's certainly not going to be a popular answer. Considering we have the 6th highest gas tax in the country, it shouldn't be a popular answer.

Lana Theis had this.

Brighton Township Treasurer Lana Theis, also a GOP contender for the House seat, said capturing 25 percent of annual state budget increases could fill the funding gap.Theis said her idea would have captured a total of roughly $1 billion between the 2010 and 2014 budget years.

“The problem is not that we’re not taking enough money. It’s that we’re not spending the money in the right place,” Theis said at the Daily Press & Argus candidate forum.“Until they prove to me that they’re spending all of the money that we take at the pump on the roads, I don’t even want to discuss a tax increase,” Theis added.

Nick Fiani had this

Nick Fiani, president of the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education and a GOP House candidate, said the state should strictly dedicate gas taxes, the state’s sales tax on gas, and vehicle registration fees to roads.
Dedicating the sales tax on gasoline to roads would involve voter approval because it would require a constitutional amendment. Without increasing the sales tax, it also would mean schools and local governments would lose funding they currently rely on.
Fiani said road funding could also receive a boost through repealing Michigan’s prevailing-wage law on public construction projects and through more competitive bidding on projects.
He said his overall plan would create between $750 million and nearly $1 billion each year in extra road funding.
“There is absolutely no need to raise taxes to fix Michigan roads. If the state and the government would utilize the proper and appropriate streams of revenue toward the appropriate expenditures, a solution could be (found),” he said.

Dale Rogers had this

GOP House candidate Dale Rogers, a Novi High School vocational teacher, called for a bipartisan commission to review state spending.
Rogers said a starting point could be axing tax-incentive programs.
For the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, the state’s economic development incentives will be funded at $130 million, and the state’s filmmaking incentives at $50 million, according to state figures.
If the appropriated $180 million in incentives went to roads, that would still be $1.02 billion short of Snyder’s figure.
Most of the business incentives are scheduled to expire, but with program dollars intended to fill a revenue gap created by ending the personal-property tax on business equipment.
Rogers said the panel also could consider slashing a portion of state Department of Corrections funding, set at $2.04 billion for 2015.

I also saw this quote which tells me many of the same problems at the heart of every budget issue is still around.  

But only about $10 billion of next year’s $52 billion budget is state money. The remaining $42 billion is federal money, none of which can be redirected for other uses, explained David Murray, Snyder’s deputy press secretary.Murray said state general fund revenue increased about $1.1 billion from 2012 to next year’s budget, however.

I have a hard time believing that the $42 billion is federal money. He's confusing "state money" with earmarked money.  Some money is earmarked due to federal strings attached (matching funds, etc) and some is due to the State Constitution provision. It would take an amendment to change some of those. It's also something that needs to be looked at. If 82% of the budget can't be touched, than the legislature and governor has a real hard time doing its job properly. Until more than 8-10 billion can be adjusted, we'll always have budgetary problems in this state.  It's a structural issue that goes back to before Engler. Open up the whole damn thing and fix it. Don't give us another tax.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Primary Updates - August 2014

I finally have some time to update some things here. Unfortunately, the blog has become down the list of priorities with everything else going on.

In Livingston County, we have up to five different primary contests depending on where you live.

8th District Congress - Mike Bishop vs Tom McMillin. This race has gone negative and I've gotten my share of mailings. This seat leans Republican, but it's not a safe district with Mike Rogers retiring. The dems have a four way primary of their own, so there's contests on both sides.

State Rep: - There are primaries in the 42nd and 47th district. In the 42nd, there's Brighton School Board President Nick Fiani, Former Livingston County Press and Argus General Manager Rich Perlberg, Novi Teacher Dale Rogers, and Brighton Township Treasurer and past LCGOP Chair Lana Theis. There's been a lot of "Friends of the Program" stuff going on in this race, although not from the candidates themselves.

In the 47th District, there's Howell Mayor Phil Campbell, former Howell School Board trustee Wendy Day, retired construction worker Harold Melton, and Handy Twp Supervisor Dr Hank Vaupel, . Ted Ring dropped out of the race but his name is on the ballot. I expect this race to be extremely close, maybe even 2002 close.

Both of these districts are tough to read. It depends who turns out the vote and who stays home.

For County Commissioner, two incumbents have primaries. Steve Williams is challenged by Steven Hart. I'm not as familiar with Pinckney area local politics as I am other parts of the county, but I don't think Williams has a lot of worries here. I've seen a lot more from Williams. Ron Van Houten is facing Fowlerville Village Councilman Doug Helzermann. Both candidates have been active this campaign trail. This could be a geographic matchup. I don't bet against Van Houten. He's been through battles before.

Those are four primary contests. What's the fifth contest? Precinct Delegate.
334 candidates have filed. Historically (at least in Livingston County), there's been few contests for those positions. That has since changed. Part of this is due to the Lt Government battle between Brian Calley and Hartland Township's own Wes Nakagiri. Precinct delegates elect delegates to state convention. State delegates pick the nominees of (among others) Lt Governor. There's more in state there as well as precinct delegates vote for 1/2 of the County GOP executive committee (which chooses officers) and state delegates next year pick district and state party leadership.

It's an active primary, despite the high profile races uncontested.

There's also several ballot questions in the county.

Prop 1 - Personal Property Tax repeal, use tax earmarked. - I'm undecided on this one. I think the PPT needs to be repealed, but this ballot language is confusing. There's broad support for this from local governments, chambers of commerce, Senator Joe Hune, and others across the spectrum. If I voted today, I'd be a reluctant yes vote, but I still need to see more.

Fowlerville Schools - Millage renewal, non residential (18 mills).

Hamburg Library - New Millage (replacing expired one) 0.80 Mills

Green Oak Fire - Millage Renewal - 1.77 mills

Green Oak Police - Millage Renewal - 2.38 mills

Pinckney Library - Millage - 1.4562 mills (.9562 renewal, 0.5 new)

Howell Twp Roads - Millage renewal - .9496 Mills

Putnam Twp Fire - Millage renewal - 1.192 Mills

Cohoctah Roads - Millage renewal - 1.5 Mills

Village of Fowlerville Mosquito Control - Millage Renewal - .469 Mills