Friday, August 18, 2017

Kid Rock for Senate?

Kevin Robbins of Hometown U.S.A. and I had this enchange in the comments to Entertainers and sports organizations condemn Charlottesville violence and trademark infringement.
[Kevin:] I trust Senator Stabenow will chew up and spit out little bits of Kid Rock next year. The Republican primary, presuming there is one, should be a show for the ages.

[Me:] Me, too. Thanks for mentioning that. I really have been neglecting a big story in my own backyard. I'll have to remedy that in the near future.
It turns out I have been ignoring this story for longer than I thought.  Nearly six months ago, Stephen Colbert observed If 'President Trump' Is Hard To Say, Try 'Senator Kid Rock'.

Kid Rock is running for Senate in Michigan, and there's only one man standing in his way.
LOL!  Unfortunately for Kid Rock, his primary opponent won't be the fictional Shrieking Joe.  They're the very real Bloomfield Hills businesswoman Lena Epstein, who was Michigan co-chair for Trump, and retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young.  In addition, businessman and Iraq War veteran John James of Farmington Hills has formed an exploratory committee, as The Detroit News reported.  Follow over the jump for my analysis of that field.

I consider Young, who is African-American and a political veteran, having served on the Michigan Supreme Court for 18 years, to be the establishment choice.  He has a long record of public service, having been a judge since 1995, and a strong conservative track record as a jurist.  He can also peel off at least a few African-American votes from Stabenow.  In a close contest, that might make a difference.  He also might drive a few rural voters into the arms of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, which will run a candidate for U.S. Senate.  I don't think that will make as much of a difference unless the margin is paper-thin.

Epstein, who lives only two towns over from me, nominally represents the insurgent wing of the party, having been Trump's state co-chair.  In a primary between her and Young, I expect her to get crushed, as I don't know if she can even get all the Tea Partiers on board.  Kid Rock, legally known as Robert Ritchie, would be her main competitor for that constituency, and he'd likely get all of it.  I wouldn't be surprised if she withdraws well before next year's August primary if Kid Rock gets serious.

As for John James, who lives in the town literally across the street from me, he has an interesting biography, but he would have most of the disadvantages of Young with few of the advantages because he's also African-American but has no record of elective office.  However, unlike the retired Supreme Court Justice, he's actually young at 36, which means he's better looking.  I think he has a future in politics, but should run for a lower office first.  The state senate district in which he lives will be open in next year's election because Vincent Gregory will be retiring because of term limits.  I think he should run for that office, where he would have a better chance of actually being nominated.

All that written, Roll Call reports he might still have an advantage.
Ritchie also led the hypothetical GOP primary with 50 percent against former Trump campaign state co-chairwoman Lena Epstein (9 percent), former Army Ranger/businessman John James (7 percent), and retired state Supreme Court Justice Bob Young Jr. (6 percent). Kid Rock’s name ID advantage certainly factored into his early advantage.
Roll Call reported on another poll showing him with a smaller lead.
Ritchie took 33 percent in the Target-Insyght poll, compared to his closest rival, businessman and veteran John James, who had 16 percent.
On second thought, I take back what I wrote about James not being as good a candidate as Young.  While Young looks better on paper, James looks better in person.

In addition to the actual people he would have to beat to become the Republican nominee.  He'll also have to overcome his own stage name.  On the one hand, Kid Rock has more name recognition than Robert Ritchie.  On the other, ‘Kid Rock’ May Be Ineligible for Michigan Ballot, as Roll Call reports.
Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot.

Kid Rock is a household name to Americans under the age of 50, and voters might be attracted to vote for him, as a middle finger to the political establishment. But it’s not immediately clear whether his famous stage name would appear on the ballot or if he’d be required to run under his less-known given name.

If Ritchie were to submit enough valid signatures to make the ballot and indicate that he wanted to be listed as “Kid Rock,” the Michigan Bureau of Elections staff would have to research the question of whether that name would be allowed. At an initial glance, Ritchie’s stage name isn’t an obviously acceptable one under the state’s criteria.

According to Michigan law via the “Affidavit of Identity and Receipt of Filing,” there are five stipulations regarding the manner in which a candidate can have his or her name printed on the ballot.

For example, a candidate “may specify that both his or her given name and middle name, or only a middle name, shall appear on the ballot,” or “may specify a name that constitutes a common law name in accordance with the Michigan Department of State Guidelines.” But according to the rules, candidates may not use a “nickname that is not a recognized diminutive of the candidate’s given name.”
Ha, ha.  Let's see if he even runs if he can't use his stage name.  If he does and wins the primary, the general election polling is ambiguous.  The two Roll Call articles I've linked to cite different polls.  In the Target-Insyght poll that had him leading James 33% to 16%, he trails Stabenow by 8 points.  In the Trafalgar Group poll that had him with 50 percent of the Republican primary vote, he leads Stabenow by two points, 49% to 46%.  That's enough to make people take his candidacy seriously, as CNN notes in State of the Cartoonion: Kid Rock for Senate?

With a former reality star in the White House, why not have a rock star in the Senate? Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan may be facing some interesting competition in her re-election race.
Kid Rock running for U.S. Senate isn't as dumb an idea as it first seemed, even if it is just a publicity stunt.  Now that my readers have mentioned it, I'll keep an eye on it an report updates as events unfold.  Stay tuned.

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