For Bernero, fat lady is tuning up
|By Kyle Melinn|
This shouldn’t be a big shock to anybody, but I’m just going to say it anyway. Virg Bernero isn’t going to be Michigan’s next governor.
You can be happy about it or you can be sad about it, but you can’t deny the inevitable.
Lansing’s Democratic mayor had two months between the August primary and now to narrow Republican Rick Snyder’s double-digit lead. Based on every public poll released to date, he wasn’t able to do it in any significant way.
The latest EPIC/MRA poll still showed Bernero only had 66 percent of the Democratic base in his corner. He has a high unfavorable rating, and Snyder’s numbers continue to be above the magic 50 percent mark.
Even his own internal polling, which ended last week, showed him down 12 percentage points, and that’s after the Bernero, Michigan Democratic Party and its union allies dumped millions of dollars into television ads. The critical mass of voters isn’t being swayed.
"If he hasn’t moved the needle and made things closer, Democrats would be well advised to do some major triage and decide where their money is best spent," EPIC/ MRA President Bernie Porn told the capital news service MIRS on Monday.
And that’s what key Democrats are looking at doing — trying to stop a landslide Republican year by focusing on the middle of the ticket. Attorney General nominee David Leyton and Secretary of State nominee Jocelyn Benson have polling showing them in a dead heat with their Republican opponents.
This will leave Bernero’s campaign like an astronaut cut off from the mother ship, floating aimlessly in space, watching and waiting for the inevitable.
In fact, some of the state’s top Democrats — Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Attorney General Frank Kelley and state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer — are hosting a local fund-raiser today. They’re raising money, not for Bernero, but for Benson.
If Democrats focus their resources on electing Leyton, the Genesee County prosecutor, and Benson, a Wayne State University elections professor, maybe they can stop Republicans from taking the dozen or so state House seats they need to take control of the lower chamber. Maybe they can prevent a complete sweep in the education posts or, more important, the state Supreme Court.
Both Benson and Leyton candidacies fit the profile of what voters seem to want this year — a Lansing outsider with as little experience in state government as humanly possible. They want someone who succeeded in something other than politics. Someone like Snyder, for example.
This year, the non-politician image is golden. Just ask Bernero. He’s tried everything to tarnish it.
Bernero claims Snyder is a Wall Street big wig who made his bucks on the backs of Main Street. It might have worked in early 2009. By mid-2010, the Citibank bailout is either ancient history for voters or they don’t see a connection between it and Snyder.
Democrats hauled out the ’06 Dick DeVosesque "outsourcing" argument — that at Gateway, Snyder watched American jobs go overseas. Voters believed a smug-looking DeVos who made millions for Amway would do it. Voters can’t believe the loveable "Nerd" would do such a thing.
Bernero had the media’s attention for a couple of weeks when Snyder shut down talk of debating Bernero on statewide television. The public seemingly made excuses for Snyder ("Why would he want to debate Bernero? Why should he? Why do we need debates in the first place?")
People like Snyder, and they have for a while. As far back as Sept. 9, pollster Richard Czuba of the Glengariff Group told The Detroit News after his poll showed Snyder up 56.2 percent to 35.9 percent, "I think (Bernero) is in increasingly bad shape — I was shocked to find only 7.5 percent undecided … . People are making up their minds already."
This isn’t July, when House Speaker Andy Dillon was nursing a doubledigit lead going into the August primary. At that time, nearly 50 percent of Democratic primary voters were undecided. Once organized labor dumped $2 million into television ads to remind Dems that Dillon was pro-life and Bernero was pro-choice, Dillon was toast.
That’s not going work this time. It already hasn’t. Bernero had his pro-woman, pro-choice press conference at the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. The Democrats have claimed Snyder’s position on abortion is "extreme," which is like saying white bread is an "extreme" taste.
The guy is pro-life with the exception of rape and incest and, more vaguely, endangering the life of the mother. He’s also pro-stem cell research, which is refreshingly progressive for a Republican.
Bernero may try one more Hail Mary pass Sunday when the two appear side-by-side for their one-and-only televised debate, but unless Virg has some incriminating pictures with Snyder and a goat or Snyder begins acting like he’s already won (voters don’t like that), the Snyder ship has sailed.
Bernero’s has taken on water.
Whitmer invited to Snyder fundraiser
Somehow, Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, the favorite to lead the Senate Democratic caucus after the coming elections, got herself on a Republican mailing list.
Earlier this year, she was invited to give money to Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop when he was running for attorney general. Now, she told MIRS, Rick Snyder sent her an invitation to a Birmingham fund-raiser, where a "host" can contribute $3,4000 and a "VIP" can give $1,000.
It can be safely assumed that Whitmer won’t be going, but how did the senator get on this mailing list? A look at her state political donations shows only one donation to a Republican in 12 years — $100 to Republican-nominated justice Cliff Taylor in 1998.
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(Kyle Melinn is news editor of the Capitol news service MIRS, mirsnews.com. E-mail him at melinn@lansingcitypulse. com.)