A poll shows Andy Schor is way ahead for mayor, but it also indicates that Lansing City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, a three-term incumbent, could be in serious trouble.
Schor, a four-term state representative, leads Judi Brown Clarke, a first-term Lansing City Councilwoman, 47 percent to 20 percent, with 33 percent undecided.
The same poll also found that Dunbar, an at-large Councilwoman, received only 13 percent support, while 28 percent said they would not vote for her, leaving 59 percent up in the air.
Morgan Communications, a local consulting firm, commissioned the poll. Practical Political Consulting, a Lansing company, conducted it.
The poll was automated, which is generally considered less accurate than live interviews. The poll has an accuracy rate of plus or minus 6 percent. It was conducted March 28 to 30. It sampled 243 likely voters in the mayor’s race and 258 on Dunbar.
“Always better to be ahead than behind,” said Schor. “It kind of confirms a lot of support I am hearing.”
Brown Clarke said in a written statement: “There have been several polls to date, each with varying results. And, we are still a couple of weeks away from the filing deadline and a final slate of candidates. My focus remains on the most important and accurate poll, which will be from the voters on Election Day.”
She and Schor are the only announced candidates. City Clerk Chris Swope considered running but decided against it because of the strong support he found for Schor. The unwillingness of the three-time clerk, who ran unopposed the last two times, suggested that Brown Clarke, who has only run for office once, has a significant challenge ahead of her. She has also lost much of the endorsement competition, with scores of elected officials, neighborhood leaders and unions already lined up behind Schor.
But two big endorsements remain: the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the UAW. The chamber has conducted a political poll but has declined to release the results.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero announced in late February that he would not seek a fourth term, citing personal reasons. Insiders close to the mayor said he did not want to put his family through what was shaping up as a tough race against Schor.
With the April 25 filing deadline approaching, it is looking like just a two-person race. If that remains the case, Schor and Brown Clarke will be able to skip the nonpartisan Aug. 8 primary election face each in the November general election.
“It’s clear that the Lansing mayor’s race is Andy Schor’s to lose,” said Thomas Morgan, president of Morgan Communications. “The campaign has barely started and he’s already near the magic 50-percent level. There’s a long way to go, and Judi Brown Clarke could still turn it around, but at this stage Schor is in excellent shape.”
As for poll results on Dunbar, Morgan said it shows she is “in a very weak position for a 12-year incumbent.” But he added, “She has plenty of time to recover.”
Said Dunbar in a text message, “I don’t run with my finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. I do what I think is right, and I stand on my record. I trust voters will appreciate that.”
Dunbar has drawn competition from two candidates with elective track records of their own: Peter Spadafore and Guillermo Z. Lopez, who both serve on the Lansing School Board. Also running are three lesser known candidates, Christopher Jackson, Justin DeBoer and Michael Ruddock.
The poll did not pit Dunbar against anyone or ask questions about other candidates.
The August primary will winnow the list of at-large candidates down to four, who will compete in November for two at-large seats. Brown Clarke fills the other seat, but she cannot seek reelection because she is running for mayor.