Politics 2010: Can Cheeks Kilpatrick pull out a primary win again?

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   Aug. 1, 2010 at 6:30 AM   |   0 comments

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It's the same song, different dance for seven-term Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick defending her seat when Michigan voters go to the polls Tuesday.

When she ran two years ago, Cheeks Kilpatrick narrowly won the party primary a month before her son, Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justices charges, fending off two well-known Democratic opponents.

Now, however, she faces state Sen. Hansen Clarke and four other challengers and recent independent polls indicate Clarke has a single-digit lead, CQ Politics News reported recently.

While declining to release the congresswoman's nightly poling data, a Cheeks Kilpatrick campaign spokesman said she often leads by single digits.

Commenting about why she has such strong opposition, Cheeks Kilpatrick said: "Well, it's America. A lot of people want to run and be accomplished. That's what I'm feeling."

"Every time the Kilpatrick name is raised in a negative fashion, it hurts Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick," said John Broad of Detroit, who is running for her 13th Congressional District seat.

The three best-known candidates -- Broad, Clarke and the Rev. Glenn R. Plummer -- said they're running because they believe Cheeks Kilpatrick, a member of Congress since 1997, lost her effectiveness while acknowledging she's more vulnerable because of her son's indictment last month by a federal grand jury.

"Does that hurt her? It does," Clarke said of the indictment. "But it merely underscores the arrogant political culture in Detroit that I've been fighting against ... ."

Steven Hume and Vincent Brown are also running in the Democratic primary.

In the state's gubernatorial race, Republican businessman Rick Snyder has spent about twice as much as his nearest competitor as he and three other Republicans duke it out.

Democrat Jennifer Granholm is barred from running because of term limits.

From Jan. 1 to July 18, Snyder spent $4.6 million, compared to $2.4 million for state Attorney General Mike Cox and $1 million for Rep. Pete Hoekstra, all running neck-and-neck in the polling while Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, who spent $813,000 during the same time period, doesn't trail too far behind, The Washington Post reported recently.

Bouchard, incidentally, snagged an endorsement from "Joe the Plumber" who gained fame during the 2008 presidential campaign courtesy of the GOP ticket.

Hoekstra, a frequent critic of President Obama and the Democratic policies, is looking to trade 18 years of seniority for a new job at the state Capitol, but first he must convince Republican voters he should be their candidate for governor.

To do that, he's working 100 jobs to show he's in touch, Interlochen Public Radio reported recently.

While working on job No. 53 at a gas station, Hoekstra says the campaign helps him better understand the people in the state.

To those who criticize him for missing votes in Washington, Hoekstra said the missed roll calls were primarily procedural matters -- and that his being in Michigan shows where his values are.

On the Democratic side, state House Speaker Andy Dillon has bested Lansing Mayor Verg Bernero in both fundraising and spending by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, disclosure records indicate.

Michigan's elder statesman Rep. John Dingell, chairman emeritus of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and considered the dean of the house, is seeking re-election to the 15th Congressional District seat he's held since winning a special election in 1955.

Seven Republicans and two Democrats are competing for the chance to replace Hoekstra in the 2nd Congressional District.

In Michigan's 7th Congressional District, Republican Tim Walberg is running against two challengers for the chance to regain the seat he lost to Democratic incumbent Mark Schauer two years ago.

Jennifer Hoff, spokeswoman for the Michigan Republican Party, said whoever wins the primary would mount a strong race against Schauer, who she says consistently votes with President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported recently.

"That does not represent the needs of the people of the 7th Congressional District," Huff said.

Craig Ruff, a senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants Inc. in Lansing, pegs the 7th Congressional District race as one to watch right through to the election.

"Republicans have got to make this, nationally, one of the key seats they go after," he said. "If Republicans can't win the Schauer seat, I see no way they can win control of the House."

All of the better-known gubernatorial candidates also are taking advantage of the Internet social networking site Facebook to contact their supporters, or "fans" in Facebook lexicon.

However, a Capital Confidential of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy pointed out that campaigns have only limited control over who signs up on a fan page. As such, many of the so-called "fans" on each page are not actual supporters, but possibly curious journalists, lobbyists, neutral political professionals, undecided voters -- even opponents who want to keep up with the competition.

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land estimated 1.7 million of the 7.2 million registered voters will turn out at the polls for Tuesday's primary.

"This number was reached using past primary turnouts, absent voter activity and information provided by local officials," Land said in a release. "Hotly contested primary races should draw people to the polls on Election Day, narrowing the field for the November general election."

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