March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Progressives, civil rights organizations endorse Rory Neuner’s City Council campaign

Friday, Aug. 12 — At-Large Lansing City Council candidate Rory Neuner is appealing to local, statewide and national progressive groups. The 4th Ward Progressives, Equality Michigan Pride PAC and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund all announced endorsements for Neuner’s campaign this week.

“I’m excited about all three,” Neuner said. “When you look at the list of the endorsements I’ve seen, there’s some real diversity.”

Neuner, 31, is project coordinator for the Transportation for Michigan Coalition. She graduated from Haslett High School in 1998 and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

The 4th Ward Progressives is a group of mostly 4th Ward residents that formed in 2004 out of “frustration” over former Councilwoman Geneva Smith’s performance, the group’s facilitator said.

Stephen Manchester, the facilitator, said the progressives also endorsed incumbent Derrick Quinney after interviews with all four At-Large candidates, which also include Tom Stewart and Carol Wood.

The 4th Ward Progressives, which has about 20 members, are not endorsing candidates in the 1st Ward and 3rd Ward races. Manchester said group members commit to donating to the campaigns they endorse.

“It’s not a lot, but you’d be surprised what a couple hundred extra dollars will do,” he said.

Equality Michigan is a statewide LGBT-rights organization that formed after the merger of Michigan Equality and the Triangle Foundation. Its Pride Political Action Committee announced endorsements for Neuner and Lynne Martinez in the 1st Ward on Aug. 1.

“Rory Neuner and Lynne Martinez are working hard to ensure that every citizen has equal access to local resources and opportunity. ...  Lansing is key to our state's well-being and these candidates know it. We applaud the tireless efforts and inspired vision that these candidates offer their friends, neighbors, and the entire state,” said Emily Dievendorf, Pride PAC’s political director, in a statement.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a nationwide organization formed in 1991 that works to elect LGBT candidates for public office, says on its website, “Earning Victory’s endorsement means a candidate has passed a rigorous vetting process, that they’re planning a serious campaign and that they’ve demonstrated a real path to electoral success.” Being an LGBT candidate is not an automatic endorsement by the group, its website says.

Neuner, Wood and Quinney each received “very positive” ratings from the Lansing Association for Human Rights on gay rights issues. Stewart received a “positive” rating.

Neuner and Stewart have some ground to make up before the Nov. 8 General Election over Wood and Quinney, who earned 1,598 and 729 more votes, respectively, than Neuner. Stewart came in fourth, 402 votes behind Neuner. A fifth candidate, John Krohn, failed to make it past the primary.

Wood has picked up an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police. She and Quinney were both endorsed by the Capital Area UAW CAP Council, while the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed Neuner and Stewart.

Neuner said she met with her campaign “team” shortly after the Aug. 2 primary election and “really dug into the numbers. We’re continuing the same campaign we were running before with a lot of door-to-door contact with voters.”

Particularly, she’ll have to dig in with absentee voters: Neuner came in fourth with absentee votes in the primary, trailing Stewart by 95 votes.

“Hopefully, people have gotten to know me a little better,” she said.