Chalk it up to a case of an “eager beaver” being a little too eager.
A campaign volunteer for state Rep. Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, who happens to believe Byrum would make a great a state senator, registered the Web site www.byrumforsenate.com earlier this year, even though Byrum — as of now — isn’t running for the post.
And in the process, this volunteer also locked up the Web sites of a couple of Byrum’s potential adversaries in a ’10 Senate contest . . . www.meadowsforsenate.com (for Rep. Mark Meadows of East Lansing) and www.deweeseforsenate.com (for Paul DeWeese the Republican-turned-Democrat who made a good run for the Senate in ’02 before losing to Virg Bernero).
Byrum said she found out about all of this a few weeks ago and she wasn’t very happy about it. She asked the volunteer in question to release the Web addresses to DeWeese and Meadows. She told me she doesn’t want anything to do with either Web site.
Did she punish the volunteer?
“It’s been taken care of,” she assured me.
What about byrumforsenate.com?
She’s keeping it. Even though, again, she isn’t running for Senate. For now, anyway.
Why all the intrigue? Here’s the story.
Ingham County’s state senator, Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, isn’t term-limited. She could again run in 2010 if she wants. And if she did, she’d pound anybody who tried to run against her, primary or general election. She’s the Senate’s most aggressive Democrat and she darn good at what she does.
But Whitmer’s name is being more than floated as a Democratic attorney general nominee in 2010. For folks around Lansing, Whitmer for attorney-general is an inevitability.
No other Democrat in the Legislature is even dreaming of taking her on. Attorney Richard Bernstein (yes, from the Bernstein law firm that runs TV commercials) said he’s interested in the post. As far as other Democrats actively testing the waters, that’s it.
Whitmer hasn’t officially announced that she’s running for the post. She may not even bother until late next year. There’s always the off chance that the big shots within organized labor and the party’s gubernatorial nominee will pick a statewide Democratic Party slate that doesn’t include Whitmer. Typically, those decisions aren’t made until late August or early September.
It’s happened before. Scott Bowen in 2006. Deborah Thomas in 2008. John Austin in 2002. The list of Democratic candidates who campaigned like hell for a solid year only to get cut off at the knees by organized labor and a gubernatorial nominee is notable.
So just in case, Whitmer may file to run for her state Senate seat again in 2010. She would probably win the August primary. And, if later that month, the Democrats nominate her for attorney general, Whitmer could accept. She’d have to ask the county clerk to remove her name from the ballot for state senator.
According to Ingham Clerk Mike Bryanton, the Ingham County Democratic Party would then nominate someone to fill Whitmer’s spot on the ballot.
At that point, byrumforsenate.com, meadowsforsenate.com and deweeseforsenate.com become very important. If Byrum, Meadows, DeWeese or whoever anyone else wants to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for state Senate in 2010, they would need to make their case to the county party membership.A Web site would give the party’s faithful an easy way to scan the candidates’ bio information, campaign priorities, etc.
That’s a lot of “ifs” and it’s still a long way off. Still, the antics of Eager Beaver prove that just because nobody is making official announcements doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about future possibilities.
Jones clearing field for Senate run
Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, the Legislature’s master of earned media, is silently clearing the field for his own run for the state Senate in 2010. Jones is looking at the 24th Senate District, made up of Eaton, Barry and Allegan counties, which is represented by term-limited Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck.
Over the last few months, Jones has earned the blessing of Birkholz, Rep. Brian Calley R-Portland, former Rep. Fulton Sheen, R-Plainwell, and several other big players in the three-county area. The district has a 56.3 percent Republican base — a near impossibility for a Democrat, especially against someone as popular as Jones.
If successful in securing the Republican nomination next year, mid-Michigan would benefit by having another native son representing this area in the Capitol.
(Kyle Melinn is the editor at the MIRS newsletter. His column runs weekly. Write firstname.lastname@example.org.)