Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has endorsed four candidates
for Lansing City Council, his executive assistant Randy Hannan confirmed

“We believe it’s important for voters to have choices,”
Hannan said, “and it’s important for us to weigh in. But ultimately,
it’s up to voters.”

In the First Ward, Bernero elected to endorse former State
Rep. Lynne Martinez over Jody Washington, a self-described neighborhood

Reached for comment on the snub, Washington said, “I guess clearly this is the case of one career politician helping another.”

Washington has billed herself as the independent candidate
who is neither an insider nor a politician. But she has been involved
in politics, including two stints as a campaign volunteer for Mayor
Bernero: first on his 2009 landslide re-election and then on his almost
immediate attempt to be Michigan’s governor. Bernero lost that bid

Though she worked diligently on Bernero’s campaigns, Washington said she didn’t agree with him on everything.

In her estimation, her refusal to run in lock-step with
the Bernero administration was most likely the reason she was passed
over for the endorsement.

“Because I won’t be a rubber stamp for him or anyone else,
I won’t get his endorsement,” Washington said. “The rubber stamp will
be Lynne.”

Washington maintained that doesn’t put her in the corner
of Council well-known for opposing the Bernero administration, adding,
“I want to have an independent voice for the constituents of the First

She also said the mayor has “a history of wanting people who will rubber stamp (his proposals) for him.’

In the Third Ward, Bernero has endorsed incumbent — and
current Council President — A’Lynne Robinson over challenger Jason
Wilkes. Robinson has, at times, been a part of the faction of opposition
to the Bernero administration, but is nowhere near as steadfast in that
opposition as, say, outgoing First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt.

For the two available At-Large seats, Bernero endorsed
candidate Rory Neuner and incumbent Derrick Quinney. Incumbent Carol
Wood, a long-time antagonist of the mayor who failed in her bid to
replace him in 2009, looked untouchable in her primary win in August,
nabbing 31 percent of the vote. Quinney followed with almost 25 percent.
Challengers Neuner and Tom Stewart won 19.5 percent and 14.9 percent,

Some pundits worry that with Wood seemingly untouchable,
the real race for the second available seat is between Neuner and
Quinney, both of whom are backed by varying factions of Lansing’s
progressive community. While Quinney enjoys strong labor support, Neuner
recently announced the endorsement of two key LGBT advocacy

Hannan said that’s not a concern for the mayor because Bernero endorsed both progressives.

“Folks get to vote for two people, and we’re recommending
they vote for Rory and Derrick,” he said. Splitting the progressive vote
would be impossible in Hannan’s mind. “I can’t imagine any true
progressives voting for Carol Wood.”

But for political consultant Joe DiSano, who supports
Derrick Quinney and has worked on his re-election bid, the real race is
between his client and Neuner — and, he said, it’s exposing Neuner for
what she is.

“Quinney is the only progressive in the
race,” DiSano, who is also a partner in Mainstreet Strategies, said.
“Neuner’s campaign is bankrolled by the Chamber of Commerce and scab
developers,” he added, alluding to Neuner’s endorsement by the  Chamber
of Commerce and her support for developer Pat Gillespie’s projects,
which caused her to run afoul of labor groups who wanted a project-labor
agreement on the Marketplace Development.

For Neuner to win, DiSano says she’ll have to “hack away”
at Quinney — meaning she’ll need to go negative and start the
mudslinging. DiSano doesn’t see that happening unless Neuner abandons
one of her core messages: that there needs to be more civility between
Council members.