Count on 'Bernero '13,' not 'Bernero '14'
|By Kyle Melinn|
We’ve heard this before, haven’t we?
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero saying he will run for re-election and isn’t interested in running for a higher office next year?
Those remembering Bernero’s sudden flip-flop from successful mayoral incumbent to Democratic gubernatorial candidate in January 2010 may be a little skeptical when Bernero now says he isn’t interested in governor, U.S. Senate or Congress in 2014.
But a quick survey of the political landscape would seem to back up his declared non-interest.
“What are the chances you run for the U.S. Senate on a scale of 1-10?” Bernero was asked Monday.
“One or a two,” he said. “It’s hard to put a number on it because right now my focus is on re-election.”
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin is not seeking re-election in 2014, which one might think would ignite a stampede of likely Democratic politicians seeking to replace him.
However, behind-the-scenes, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Twp., has been preparing for just this possibility.
He played a central part in the recent Michigan Democratic Party convention and has positioned himself in such a way that his nomination is almost a foregone conclusion unless MDP National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell is able to put something together.
So how about governor? Outside of former U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, state Rep. Vickie Barnett, D-Farmington Hills, and Board of Education President John Austin looking at a run, the field is wide open for a top-tier candidate.
Again, Bernero’s chances here are slim. The Lansing mayor learned from 2010 that a top-flight gubernatorial campaign in the 21st century mandates an early start. Grassroots organization, fundraising, platform creation. You can’t build the rocket during takeoff.
The 11 months between January 2014 and November 2014 simply isn’t enough, especially when the opponent is incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder, whose ability to raise money (and dig into his own pocket if need be) is well established.
If Bernero was running for governor, he’d need to start now, and he’s not — and can’t if he’s serious about running again for mayor. Shoot, he hasn’t even officially announced his re-election for Lansing mayor yet.
So how about Congress? U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, is tossing around the idea of running for Levin’s seat. If he does, it would open up Lansing’s 8th Congressional District for the first time since 2000, when Rogers eked out that victory over Dianne Byrum.
Again, the odds are against it. Redistricting has made the 8th slightly more Republican than it was last go-around. It’s now around 46 percent, according to Target Insyght.
The Democrat in this race would be starting this 5k run a quarter of a mile behind the Republican.
Not only that, Ingham is no longer the district’s predominant county. More voters from Oakland County participated in Rogers’ 2012 re-election than those from Ingham, meaning a Lansing-based candidate no longer starts with a home-field advantage.
Granted, with Virg Bernero anything is possible. But don’t expect the 2010 nominee to jump into another race any time soon with these types of political headwind.
Bauer opts out of 2014 Senate race
Former Rep. Joan Bauer will not run for the state Senate in 2014, saying in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon that she wants to “explore other options and also want to spend quality time with my husband, Doug Langham.”
Bauer was termed out of the state House in the Lansing-based 68th House District on Dec. 31 and was seen as the front-runner to succeeding Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, in the Ingham County-based 23rd District. Whitmer will be broomed due to term limits in 2014.
While only lightly referring to this in her Facebook post, Langham has suffered some health issues in recent years. The amount of time and energy involved in a competitive Senate campaign would inevitably take Bauer away from him, sources tell MIRS. That was not something she was willing to do.
“(He) has been steadfastly there for me during my seventeen years in public service,” Bauer wrote in her post.
The timing of the announcement comes as Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. has made it known he is exploring a run for the 23rd Senate District. Behind the scenes, Hertel has been aggressive, wrapping up significant support in recent months and forcing the race to begin much sooner than Bauer may have expected.
In her announcement, Bauer thanked the people of Lansing and the 68th House District for the “honor and privilege” of representing them in the state House and the Lansing City Council prior to that.
“It was an incredible experience, which I will treasure forever,” she wrote. “I will continue to be active in our community and work on the issues that are so very important to me.”
(Kyle Melinn is the editor of MIRS. He´s at email@example.com.)