Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lon Johnson elected new MDP chair after a tense and spirited convention

I spent yesterday at the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Convention, which is why I posted nothing after midnight.  I have my own observations, but I'll let the media have their say first, beginning with this video report from WOOD-TV.

Mark Brewer on Saturday withdrew from the race for party chairman at the state Democratic Party convention in Detroit. He said he wishes challenger Lon Johnson all the best.

Brewer announced his decision to thousands of delegates rather than continue an uphill climb to retain his seat after unions and Michigan's Democratic congressional delegation got behind Johnson. Brewer said he wishes Johnson all the best.
I was sitting in the front rows when this happened.  I was both surprised and relieved, surprised because Brewer had given all the signs of fighting up to the bitter end, relieved because it got me the result I wanted deep down without leading to conflict and inflaming old wounds.  Instead, the MDP could say nice things about both Brewer and Johnson while looking forward to a better era, at least for now.

Speaking of old wounds, the Detroit Free Press included the airing of old grievances at caucus meeting I attended, one that began the night before.
A nasty credentials fight Friday night went Johnson’s way, but it burst into a heated exchange Saturday between U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak and a Johnson supporter, and Ed Bruley, Macomb County Democratic Party chairman and a Brewer supporter.

Levin accused the Brewer camp of lying and Bruley said the UAW was muscling its way into sustained power by rigging the rules.

“It’s not fair when a major organization wants to dominate so heavily that they change the rules because they have the votes at a particular meeting,” Bruley said.

With Brewer’s entourage playing bagpipes outside the 9th congressional caucus meeting, Levin delivered a blistering rebuke.

“Don’t give me this damned stuff about changing the rules,” Levin said. “The rules says you don’t have to pay in order to be a member of this party. We don’t have a poll tax in this party.”

After the shouting died down, Levin called for unity in the party, but one of Brewer’s supporters shouted, “It’s too late.”
I had no idea about the fight between Bruley and Levin the night before, but it explains what I witnessed, which went beyond an argument between Bruley and Levin to one between Bruley and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.  Hackel recounted how Brewer did not support him for Sheriff or County Executive the first times he ran for both offices, which led to an angry rebuttal from Bruley.

This altercation explains why I was relieved that Brewer withdrew, as all these grudges against Brewer that have accumulated over the past 18 years would have erupted on the floor.  It's bad enough hearing the that leader of Macomb County's Democratic Party had issues with the County Executive and the Democratic U.S. Representative for his county; I didn't need to hear more.  I learned enough to conclude that not only is all politics local, it's personal, too.

At least the MDP avoided a floor fight and adjourned early.  The Republicans had a very closely contested election for their state party chair between Bobby Schostak and former State Board of Education candidate Todd Courser.  Schostak held on to his chairmanship by only 52% to Tea Party favorite Courser's 48%.  That was the good news, as much as someone relatively sane won.*  The bad news is that the convention supported Right to Work and changing the allocation of the state's electoral college votes.  However, neither of those is really a surprise.

*I concluded article on educational boards with a recommendation.
I recommend reading the City Pulse's endorsement editorial. It lists their favorite candidates from the top of the ticket to the bottom. The editorial writer is both mean and funny. I quoted some of the best lines both here and in Proposal endorsements of alternative weeklies favor change over status quo. They're both scathing and hilarious.
Here is what City Pulse had to say about Courser and his fellow Tea Party candidates.
But the nominations of fruit loop Jeff Sawka and what-can-I-run-for-today Rob Steele along with X-Files cast members Jeff Courser (Mulder) and Melanie Kurdys (Scully) is so frightening, we can understand why a voter would give up bothering to pick through this sad lot and go straight Democratic.
As I wrote, Schostak looks sane compared to his competition, who nearly won.

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