Saturday, April 09, 2016

6th District Shenanigans

The Michigan GOP convention held its district caucuses Friday night. The purpose of the caucus was to elect delegates and three alternates to the national convention in Cleveland. For many years, the 6th district has used an allocation plan that distributes delegates and alternates among the counties by sex. (For example, Allegan County gets a female alternate.) This allocation prevented anyone from one county (St. Joseph) from running for anything, people from two others (Allegan and Van Buren) from running for delegate, and many from running based on their sex.  Restricting delegates based on sex arguably violates state rules, but objections to this policy were not sustained.  Only 34% of state convention delegates were allowed to run for national delegate under this plan.

Unlike previous presidential elections, this time candidates for delegate had to pledge support to a particular candidate prior to the caucus. The sixth district (like all districts) got one delegate/alternate pair for Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. The establishment rules committee proposed rules affirming this allocation. Supporters of Cruz offered an alternative set of rules to split into three subcaucuses, one for each candidate, to elect the delegate and alternate pledged to each candidate. After much discussion, the alternate proposal failed 67-81, and the establishment rules passed by a larger margin.

Four counties had had meetings days before the caucus to pick who they wanted as their delegate or alternate (this should not have been binding on the caucus but was treated as such).  This included delegates pledged to Cruz and Trump, which meant that only the Kasich delegate was left.

Kalamazoo went into a subcaucus.  Several supporters of Cruz (including me) and Trump tried to run for delegate, and were told that this was not allowed.  I pointed out that allocating candidates' delegates by county was not in the rules.  We argued with party officials, then stood around for half an hour or so.  Then we were called back into the room and a motion was made to set up a slate allocating the delegates and alternates by county, sex, and presidential candidate (tacitly admitting that my objection was correct).  The motion passed, and I was prevented from running.  Kalamazoo County went back to sub-caucus and voted on our Kasich delegate and Cruz alternate.  The establishment slate was passed without opposition, as everyone was exhausted after over three hours in caucus.

Delegate - Cass - Male - Cruz - Vic Fitz, 6th District Chairman, county prosecutor
Delegate - Kalamazoo - Male - Kasich - Scott McGraw, county chairman, county commissioner
Delegate - Berrien - Female - Trump - Sharon Tyler, county clerk
Alternate - Allegan - Female - Kasich - Mary Whiteford, state representative
Alternate - Kalamazoo - Male - Cruz - Bonnie Landrum, local activist
Alternate - Van Buren - Male - Trump - Paul DeYoung, Register of Deeds

The slate is all establishment and almost all elected officials.  I don't know if any of them actually support the candidates they are pledged to (none publicly endorsed prior to the primary as far as I can tell).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why not Trump?

Donald Trump is currently leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination. What should conservatives think of this?
THE GOOD Trump has attacked political correctness and skewered some deserving targets, from Jeb Bush to Bill Clinton. He also brought greater prominence to immigration issues and pushed the debate on these issues to the right.
THE ISSUES So where does Trump stand on the issues? With the exceptions of trade and eminent domain, he doesn’t seem to have been consistent on any issue. Most positions have changed over time, and some seem to vary from day to day or even minute to minute.
ABORTION In 1999, Trump said “I’m pro-choice” and refused to support a partial-birth abortion ban, citing his “New York background”. He claims to have become pro-life (with exceptions) a few years ago. He has continued to praise Planned Parenthood for its non-abortion services during the campaign.
GUN RIGHTS Trump once said that “I hate the concept of guns” and supported banning “assault weapons” and waiting periods. During his campaign, he has taken pro-gun positions.
TAXES In 1999, Trump advocated a 6 trillion dollar wealth tax to eliminate the national debt. More recently, he has said the plan was good at the time, but is now impractical. During the campaign, Trump has proposed a tax plan that has mostly been well-received by conservatives.
HEALTH CARE Trump has pledged to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. But replace it with what? Trump has praised socialized medicine in Canada and Scotland in the past. He seems to advocate this for America as well, calling for government to pay for everyone.
RACIAL PREFERENCES One issue where Trump has not taken a politically incorrect position is racial preferences (“affirmative action”). When Antonin Scalia asked a question critical of affirmative action (citing the mismatch theory), Trump criticized Scalia. He went on to declare support for affirmative action.
EMINENT DOMAIN Trump has consistently defended the use of private eminent domain—that is, the government taking someone’s land (with compensation) for a private developer. Trump tried to take the Atlantic City house of elderly widow Vera Coking for a limousine parking lot but lost a court battle. He supports the Kelo Supreme Court case allowing private eminent domain. While this isn’t the most pressing issue (most states have banned private eminent domain) it shows that Trump favors the interests of big business over the rights of average citizens.
IMMIGRATION Trump proposed a great immigration plan, which was apparently written by Senator Jeff Sessions and his staff. However, he has not always advocated for tough immigration policies. In 2012, he opposed Mitt Romney’s support of ‘self-deportation’ (illegals leaving on their own in response to restriction of jobs and benefits), calling it “mean-spirited”, and defended his position in 2015. In 2013, he met with ‘immigrant advocates’ saying that “you’ve convinced me” on the issue. In June 2015, he supported a path to citizenship for illegals. In August 2015, he called for taking in Syrian refugees, before dramatically reversing himself and calling for ending all Muslim immigration.
DONATIONS Trump has donated to a raft of liberal politicians, including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and many more. Trump excuses this as a business necessity, rather than the product of ideological conviction. Of course, Michigan conservatives have not excused donations to democrats by moderate Republicans like Rick Snyder and Bobby Schostak. At a minimum, Trump’s donations show a willingness to go along to get along, rather than fight a corrupt system.
CHARACTER Trump has been married three times, and had several affairs. He can be gracious to win people over, but will viciously attack those who don’t give him what he wants.
ELECTABILITY Trump has trailed Hillary Clinton in most polls, performing worse against her than Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. His unfavorable rating is 58% as of this writing, far higher than any candidate who has ever been nominated for president. Liberals are compiling opposition research files on his business dealings, treatment of employees and acquaintances, and controversial statements in past interviews. Barring some game-changing event (such a Clinton indictment or Bloomberg third-party campaign), Trump is likely to lose the general election.
SUMMARY Donald Trump has very little history in the Republican party, much less the conservative movement. He has very recently taken more conservative positions. The question voters must ask is whether there is any reason to believe him. Did he really have a massive political conversion within the past few years, or is he just cynically saying what voters want to hear?

See also:
Is Donald Trump Conservative? Here's the Rundown
Conservative Review on Trump
Club for Growth on Trump

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ted Cruz for President

Senator Ted Cruz is the best choice for the Republican nomination for President.
EXPERIENCE Cruz has a variety of government experience. He has been a Senator from Texas since 2012. Before that, he was Solicitor General of Texas, working on numerous high-profile legal cases, including winning eight cases before the Supreme Court. Before that, he was a member of the Federal Trade Commission, where he fought to protect free markets, including keeping the internet free from government regulation.
ISSUES Cruz is a solid conservative who is pro-life and pro-marriage. He supports gun rights completely. He is a free market conservative who supports cutting government spending, taxes, regulations, and bureaucracy. He is a patriot who advocates a realist foreign policy with a strong military willing to intervene when it is in American interests, but not to support a Utopian vision of imposing democracy and nation-building. He is an immigration patriot who opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and supports enforcing the law, securing the border with a real fence, and cutting back on legal immigration when it is not in America's interest.
RECORD Lots of candidates talk conservative during the campaign, but don't act that way in office. That's why it is essential to examine their records. Ted Cruz ran for senate promising to be a solid conservative who led the fight on important issues. His voting record backs that up. He has lifetime ratings of 100% from the American Conservative Union, 98% form Heritage Action, 98% from Freedomworks, and 96% from Club for Growth. He was a leader of the successful effort to defeat President Obama's 2013 gun control plan. He led the filibuster of Obamacare funding, and fought against budget-busting spending bills. Cruz was a major part of the successful opposition to the Gang of Eight amnesty bill.
Cruz's conservative record precedes the Senate. As Texas Solicitor General, he successfully defending several conservative laws in the Supreme Court. One case is particularly instructive. When a Mexican citizen committed murder in Texas, he was sentenced to death. Mexico objected, and got the World Court to demand that Texas commute his sentence. The Bush administration, to its discredit, echoed the demand. Cruz fought back, and won the case 6-3 in the Supreme Court, defeating Mexico, the World Court, and a President of his own party. He demonstrated his support for tough sentences for criminals, defense of states powers and American sovereignty, and willingness to stand up to his own party when it was the right thing to do.
KNOWLEDGE AND INTELLIGENCE Cruz is obviously brilliant. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where one of his professors declared him to be one of the smartest students he had ever had. He has taken the time to study issues carefully and learn the details of public policy. He is rarely, if ever, tripped up by a question. Unlike other candidates, he doesn't sound like he just learned about the issues last week, or just repeated something written by an advisor. Cruz has an audiographic memory, and so can remember anything he has heard, which would be a valuable skill for a President.
CHARACTER Cruz is a committed Christian, whose father is a pastor. He is married to his wife Heidi for 15 years. He has two daughters. Cruz has a calm, even temperament, and doesn't crack under pressure or personally insult other candidates. He is highly disciplined and a very hard worker. He is capable of working across party lines (as on the FTC) but will stand up to others in his own party when necessary.
CAMPAIGN Cruz has run a strong campaign so far. He has raised the second most money (behind Jeb Bush) of any Republican, with both a lot of small dollar donations, and some large donations as well. He has put together the best grassroots organization of any campaign. His campaign has developed new technologies for identifying and targeting voters. He has avoided wasting money on overpriced political consultants.
ELECTABILITY It is difficult to predict election results before the campaign, but it is worth noting that many supposedly electable Republican nominees (Romney, McCain, Dole) were not actually very electable in practice. They pursued strategies of pandering to the media (McCain) or avoiding controversy (Romney) which didn't hold up well in a Presidential campaign. They often seemed incapable of making conservative arguments. In contrast, Ted Cruz knows not to expect any sympathy from the media. He can make conservative arguments that can win over undecided voters while uniting and motivating the Republican base. He is a national champion debater who won't put his foot in his mouth or pull his punches against Hillary. He has led Hillary Clinton in many polls, and performs better than Trump, Carson, or Kasich in general election matchups. There are no guarantees, but Cruz stands a reasonable chance of winning the general election.
ENDORSEMENTS Cruz has been endorsed by conservative leaders, including James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Glenn Beck, Thomas Sowell, Gun Owners of America, the National Organization for Marriage, and many solidly conservative members of the House of Representatives. For all these reasons, I endorse him as well.

Private Security in Detroit


This interview with a private security firm in Detroit is fascinating.
Ep. 597 Can the Private Sector Protect Against Crime? This Case Study Will Blow Your Mind

Monday, January 04, 2016

The Acid Test of Climate Change

Leftists are still doing their best to promote hysteria about global warming climate change, despite average citizens not caring at all about the issue.  They claim that we will be doomed to a terrible fate at some point in the not-to-distant future if we don't agree to their demands.

Conservatives have long suspected that this is a cynical attempt to gain control of the world economy.  To test leftists' sincerity, we can consider their support for alternatives to regulation of the global economy.  One big alternative is nuclear energy, which has zero carbon emissions.

Even if this isn't the left's ideal solution, it is one that most on the right would accept.  Are climate change hysterics advocating the expansion of nuclear energy?  If not, why should anyone believe that they are sincere?

2016 Michigan Primary Election Races

This post was last updated June 6, 2016.

Michigan's presidential electors, congressional seats, and the entire state house will be up for election November 8, 2016.  A primary on August 2 will decide most partisan nominees.

List of Michigan Presidential Candidates
List of Michigan candidates

President
On March 8, Michigan Republicans gave Donald Trump 36.5%, Ted Cruz 24.9%, John Kasich 24.3%, and Marco Rubio 9.3%.  Trump will likely face Hillary Clinton in November.

Michigan Supreme Court
Republicans currently hold a 5-2 majority on the court.  There are two seats up for election on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Republican David Viviano is seeking a full term after winning a two year term in 2014. He was appointed to fill a vacancy following the resignation of disgraced democrat Diane Hathaway following her conviction for tax fraud.  Safe Republican
Republican Joan Larsen was appointed following the resignation of Republican Mary Beth Kelly.  No democrats are seeking either seat yet.  Likely Republican

Other Statewide Offices
Two seats on the state Board of Education and boards of trustees of U of M, MSU, and WSU will be up for election. All eight seats up are held by democrats. Democrats have swept these elections in 2006, 2008, and 2012, while Republicans swept in 2010.  Republicans won one seat in 2014.  The candidates are
State Board of Education:
Republicans:
Democrats:
UM Board of Regents:
Republicans: Ron Weiser, Carl Meyers
Democrats:
MSU Board of Trustees:
Republicans: William Deary
Democrats:
WSU Board of Governors:
Republicans:
Democrats:

Ballot Propositions
There may be a marijuana legalization proposal on the ballot.

Michigan Congressional Seats
Republicans hold a 9-5 majority in Michigan's congressional delegation, which is unchanged since 2012. Two districts (1 and 10) are open.  Democrats will target districts 1, 7, and 8, though all favor Republicans.

2016 Michigan Congressional Races

Michigan House
All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives are up for election. Republicans hold a 63-47 majority.  There will be 40 open seats due to term limits and candidates running for Congress.  Democrats are likely to gain some seats.

A future article will examine these races in depth.

60th District (Kalamazoo City) Safe democrat
Democrat Jon Hoadley defeated county commissioner David Buskirk of SE Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township Trustee Pamela Goodacre in the 2014 primary to replace Sean McCann, who lost a bid for state senate.  He faces Republican Kalamazoo College student Alexander Ross.
61st District (Portage, Oshtemo) Safe Republican
Republican Brandt Iden defeated fellow county commissioner Phil Stinchcomb in the 2014 primary to replace Margaret O'Brien, who was elected to the state senate.  Iden defeated democrat Pastor John Fisher 48.4-42.7 in 2014.  Fisher is running again in 2016.
62nd District (Battle Creek, Albion) Tossup
Republican John Bizon defeated democrat Andy Helmboldt 51.2-48.8 in 2014, replacing term-limited democrat Kate Segal.  Democrat Calhoun County Commissioner Jim Haadsma is running this year.
63rd District (E Kalamazoo, S Calhoun) Safe Republican
Moderate Republican Kalamazoo county commissioner David Maturen, defeated Marshall school board president Vic Potter in the 2014 primary to replace Speaker Jase Bolger.  Lynn Shiflea is the democrat candidate.
66th District (Van Buren, Cooper) Lean Republican
Republican state rep. Aric Nesbitt is term-limited.  Republican Van Buren County Commissioner Beth Griffin, Greg Kolich, and Matthew Nilson are running.  Nesbitt defeated democrat Annie Brown 57-43 in 2014.  Brown will run again in 2016.

Kalamazoo Countywide Offices
All six countywide offices are up for election. Republicans hold three of six offices.

Sheriff: Leans democrat
Democrat Richard Fuller defeated Republican Michael Anderson in 2008 and won 55-45 in 2012.  Fuller, who has had problems with fiscal management, faces Thomas Swafford in the democrat primary.  County commissioner (2002-2016) and police officer Jeff Heppler faces Robert Munn in the Republican primary.
Prosecutor: Likely democrat
Democrat former assistant prosecutor Jeffrey Getting defeated Republican assistant prosecutor Scott Pierangeli 51-49 in 2012 to replace Republican Jeff Fink.  He faces Dorphine Payne in the democrat primary and Republican Donald Smith in the general.
Clerk: Tossup
Incumbent moderate Republican Tim Snow will seek reelection after a narrow 51-49 win in 2012. Democrat county commissioner John Taylor (2002-2016) is running.
Treasurer: Leans Republican
Republican Mary Balkema, who was appointed in 2007, will seek reelection. Balkema barely defeated a token challenger in 2008, but defeated Grace Borgfjord 53-47 in 2012.  James Jackson and Sunny Sahu will compete for the democrat nomination.
Drain Commissioner: Safe democrat
Democrat Patricia Crowley won easily in 2008 and 2012 (60-40).  She is unopposed.
Surveyor: Safe Republican
Incumbent Republican Bill Hahn has been unopposed since 2008. The position is unpaid, and its holder must be a licensed surveyor.

Kalamazoo County Commission
All 11 seats on the Kalamazoo County Commission will be up for election. Democrats hold a 6-5 majority. Republicans will target democrats in districts 5 and 10. Democrats may target districts 7 and 11.  Districts 3, 6, and 10 are open.

2016 Kalamazoo County Commission Races

Township Elections
There are plenty of contested township elections. Some are noteworthy.

Alamo Township:  Lou Conti was elected Supervisor in 2012 and recalled in 2014, being replaced by Tony Hyet.  Now Hyet is running for reelection and being challenged by Conti.

Comstock Township: Republican Supervisor Ann Nieuwenhuis, who defeated trustee Randy Thompson 52-40 in 2012, is retiring. Democrat trustee Sandra Bloomfield and nurse Lisa White are running for the Republican nomination.  Thompson and Kristie Cherry are competing for the democrat nomination.  Five Republicans (including incumbent conservative Jerry Amos) and three democrats are running for four trustee seats.

Cooper Township:  Longtime Supervisor Jeffrey Sorenson is being challenged by Richard Rakow.  Trustee DeAnna Janssen is unopposed for Clerk.  Longtime trustees Brenda Buiskool, Robert Schledel, and Fred Vlietstra are running again, and Republicans Rob Bricker, Jim Frederick, and Marc Rowlson are also running.

Kalamazoo Township:  Democrat Supervisor Ron Reid is unopposed.  Trustees Pamela Goodacre and Mark Miller are challenging incumbent clerk Donald Thall in the democrat primary.

Oshtemo Township:  Democrat Supervisor Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell won 57-43 over former democrat John Nieuwenhuis in 2012. He is seeking a rematch this year.  Democrat trustee Dusty Farmer is unopposed for the seat of (former) Republican Clerk Deb Everett.  Democrat trustee Grant Taylor, who was elected in a 2014 special election, is running against Republican Treasurer Nancy Culp for the democrat nomination.  Democrat candidates for trustee are former Republican trustee Dave Bushouse, Republican Clerk Deb Everett, incumbent Zak Ford, and Ken Hudok.  Themi Corakis is the only Republican candidate.

Texas Township:  Jeff VanderRoest defeated Dave Healy in the Republican primary in 2012.  He is being challenged by John Hinkle this year.  Clerk Linda Kerr is unopposed.  Treasurer Paul Cutting is being challenged by trustee Trish Roberts, who was part of the anti-Healy faction.  The trustee candidates are incumbent conservative Wendy Mazer, former trustee Don Boven, Tim Brown, Catherine DiBiaggio, Nikolas Loeks, and Habib Mandwee.

Judges
There are no contested races.

2016 Kalamazoo County Commission Races

This post was last updated May 12, 2016.

Democrats won a 6-5 majority on the Kalamazoo County Commission in 2014, otherwise a mostly Republican year.  They picked up one seat, while six new commissioners were elected due to retirements.  There are three retirements in 2016 and several seats are likely to be hotly contested.

The following post has detailed descriptions of the districts and their political leanings. The numbers given are the percentage the Republican county commission candidate got in 2012 and 2014, Mitt Romney's 2-party percentage in 2012, and Ruth Johnson's percentage in 2010.  Incumbents are marked below with asterisks.

Kalamazoo County Commission Districts.


List of Kalamazoo County Candidates

District 1 [N Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R12: 13.9 R14: 0 Romney: 13.5 Johnson: 20.3
Democrat: Stephanie Moore*
Republican: Jessica Salvano
Stephanie Moore replaced Carolyn Alford, who retired, having held office since 2006.  She won the 2014 primary in this majority minority district with 55%.  Moore was a Kalamazoo city commissioner and has been convicted of several crimes over the years.

District 2 [SE Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R12: 0 R14: 29.5 Romney: 28.1 Johnson: 33.4
Democrat: Kevin Wordelman*
Republican: T Casey Fawley
Incumbent David Buskirk (1992-2014) retired to run for the democrat nomination in the 60th state house district, which he lost. Wordelman, a union organizer at WMU, defeated Jeremy Orr 68-32 in the 2014 primary.

District 3 [SW Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R12: 31.1 R14: 32.3 Romney: 30.1 Johnson: 37.2
Democrat: Tracy Hall
Republican: Charley Coss
John Taylor, who was first elected in 2002 is running for county clerk.  Hall was a candidate for Kalamazoo city commission in 2013.

District 4 [Kalamazoo Twp, Parchment] Safe Democrat
R12: 32.2 R14: 0 Romney: 31.7 Johnson: 41.8
Democrat: Michael Seals*, Franklin Thompson
Republican: none
Seals defeated fellow democrat commissioner (2002-2010) Franklin Thompson in 2010.

District 5 [Alamo, N Oshtemo, NW Kalamazoo Twp] Likely Democrat
R12: 44.3 R14: 44.7 Romney: 47.2 Johnson: 56.9
Democrat: Julie Rogers*
Republican: Chad Dillon
Rogers won this swingy seat in 2012.  Dillon is a staffer for Congressman Fred Upton.

District 6 [Cooper, Richland, Ross] Safe Republican
R12: 54 R14: 100 Romney: 54.7 Johnson: 62.9
Democrat: none
Republican: Frank Brooks, Vince Carahaly, Ron Kendall
Jeff Heppler, who has been on the board since 2002, is running for Sheriff. Brooks is a passionate Trump supporter, and Carahaly is moderate businessman.

District 7 [Comstock, Galesburg, Charleston, Climax, Wakeshma] Lean Republican
R12: 50.9 R14: 54.9 Romney: 50.6 Johnson: 59.3
Democrat: Pat Clark
Republican: Roger Tuinier*
Tuinier, who is a greenhouse owner, barely defeated Leroy Crabtree in 2012.  He beat David Burgess, a Comstock Township Trustee, in 2014.  Clark is a Climax Village Trustee.

District 8 [Pavillion, Brady, Schoolcraft, Prairie Ronde] Safe Republican
R12: 100 R14: 61 Romney: 55.1 Johnson: 63.5
Democrat: none
Republican: John Gisler*
Moderate Republican board chairman David Maturen (2002-2014) won the 63rd district state house seat in 2014.  Commissioner John Gisler, who was elected in 2010 but deferred to Maturen in the 2012 Republican primary due to redistricting, won in 2014.

District 9 [Texas, SE Oshtemo] Safe Republican
R12: 53.9 R14: 61.3 Romney: 51.7 Johnson: 62.5
Democrat: Emily Adams
Republican: Dale Shugars*, Brian Kovacik
Shugars, a conservative former state senator (1994-2002) and state rep (1990-1994), won 72% to moderate Brian Kovacik's 28% in the 2014 primary, succeeding Brandt Iden.

District 10 [W Portage] Tossup
R12: 52.8 R14: 49.6 Romney: 49.4 Johnson: 58.8
Democrat: Michael Quinn
Republican: Jerry Whitaker
Conservative Republican Phil Stinchcomb defeated democrat commissioner (2008-2010) Michael Quinn 56.4-43.6 in 2010.   Provancher was a democrat county commissioner representing central Portage 1995-2002.  He is retiring, and Quinn is running again. Whitaker was a Portage School Board member 1999-2004.

District 11 [E Portage] Likely Republican
R12: 52.5 R14: 54.2 Romney: 47.5 Johnson: 56.5
Democrat: Jason Foster
Republican: Scott McGraw*
McGraw succeed John Zull (2000-2014).  McGraw formerly worked for the Kalamazoo Homebuilders Association and is now Chairman of the Kalamazoo GOP.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Best of The Western Right 2015

The Western Right had a slow year in 2015, with 25 posts, but still had a few good ones.

Conservative of the Year: Matt Bevin
Vote NO on the Homeless Tax
Second Hoax at Kalamazoo College
2016 Michigan Congressional Races
2014 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings
Is Fred Upton More Conservative?
Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College
Where Did Lorence Wenke’s Votes Come From?
Pay for Your Own Buses!

Conservative of the Year: Matt Bevin

2015 was another year of stalemate in Washington, with Republicans largely conceding to the President on spending issues.

The Presidential primary campaigns are well underway.  Establishment favorites Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie quickly tanked.  The race appears to be down to three candidates.  Donald Trump is conservative on immigration but moderate on most other issues.  He has a unique style that cuts through the media filter but also misses key facts and unnecessarily offends many.  Ted Cruz is a solid anti-establishment conservative who has run a shrewd campaign and has good shot at the nomination.  Marco Rubio is trying to bridge the gap between conservatives and the establishment, but will be hampered by his work on the Gang of Eight amnesty bill.

Meanwhile, there was one significant conservative victory at the state level.  In Kentucky, Matt Bevin was elected Governor.  Bevin is a businessman who in 2014 challenged Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 primary.  He lost, but put up a strong showing that gained him a following around the state.  In 2015, he ran for governor, and barely won a three-way primary against two less conservative candidates.  He was considered the underdog against democrat Attorney General Jack Conway, a position supported by polls that showed him trailing.  But on election day, Bevin won by a nine-point margin.

Bevin campaigned on eliminating Kentucky's Obamacare exchange and Medicaid expansion, ending Common Core, passing Right to Work, and other conservative priorities.  He will have the opportunity to implement many conservative reforms in a state that has mostly been run by democrats for generations.  He is already working to flip the democrat-controlled state house in 2016.

Matt Bevin showed that conservatives can win without compromising their principles if they run good candidates with good campaigns.  He is 2015's conservative of the year.

Previous winners (including retroactive):
2014: Dave Brat
2013: Jeff Sessions
2012: Ted Cruz
2011: Scott Walker
2010: Jim DeMint
2009: Glenn Beck
2008: Sarah Palin
2007: Ron Paul
2006: Jerome Corsi
2005: Tom Tancredo
2004: John O'Neill
2003: Roy Moore
2002: John Ashcroft
2001: George W. Bush
2000: William Rehnquist

Repeal Straight-Ticket Voting

The state legislature recently passed Senate Bill 13 to eliminate straight-ticket voting in Michigan. The Governor should sign this bill.

Democracy works best when voters are informed.  At a bare minimum, voters should have to actually read the name of the office and names of the candidates that they will decide between.  It is an insult to the candidates and informed voters that some choose to vote in elections without even looking at the names on the ballot.

One common objection to eliminating straight-ticket voting is that it would lead to long lines at the polls.  This objection is without merit.  This might be true if Michigan used direct recording or puchcard machines, but we use optical scan machines that count votes but do not record them directly.  The only potential lines at the polls are the line to receive a ballot and the line to submit it, neither of which are affected by the amount of time it takes to fill out the ballot.

Only ten states have straight ticket voting, and the other forty seem to manage fine without it.  Michigan should join them.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

2015 Election Results

Nationally, the election results were pretty good for conservatives, headlined by Matt Bevin's election as governor of Kentucky.  Michigan results were less good.

State house:
District 80: Mary Whiteford 52%, Jim Storey 24%, Cindy Gamrat 9%, Bill Sage 8%
District 82: Gary Howell 26%, Jan Peabody 21%, Chris Tuski 21%, Ian Kempf 18%, Sharna Smith 5%, Todd Courser 4%
Gamrat and Courser were unsurprisingly crushed in their comeback attempt after being kicked out of the legislature.  They put themselves above the cause and damaged the conservative movement across the state.  They will be replaced by two establishment-friendly candidates.  Notably, the state legislature finally passed a gas tax hike the night of the election.

Kalamazoo Homeless Tax: Passed 56-44
This passed thanks substantially to being placed on the ballot when Kalamazoo and Portage had other elections and most townships did not.  The democrats who control the county commission will probably put more millages up in the future.

Kalamazoo Mayor: Hopewell 88%, Mbah 12%
Kalamazoo City Commission:
Elected: Cooney 62%, Anderson 61%, Sykes 51%, Knott 47%, Urban 39%, Milcarek 38.3%
Not elected: Cunningham 37.5%, Carter 27%, Dekker 14%, Hulbert 14%, Fletcher 14%, VanSweden 14%, Youngs 12%, Staten 9%, Milan 7%
Don Cooney finally made it to vice-mayor, bumping down David Anderson.  The commission will lurch even further to the left, as relatively moderate Barb Miller and Bob Cinabro will be replaced by Shannon Sykes, social justice consultant, and Erin Knott, Obamacare enrollment organizer.  Jack Urban was reelected, and Matt Milcarek bumped appointed commissioner Eric Cunningham out of office.  With this group running the show, Kalamazoo will probably have an emergency manager in a few years.  Mitt Romney got 7280 votes in Kalamazoo, but Republicans Hulbert and Youngs didn't find a way to turn them out to vote.  VanSweden got 1073 votes despite dropping out.

Portage City Council:
Elected: Randall 59%, Pearson 52%, Ford 48%
Not elected: Bright 32%, Earl 25%
The status quo won in Portage, as the Randall faction reelected all three incumbents up this time.  Turnout was very high (31%) due to the school millages. Those millages passed with 64% and 56%, so Portage taxpayers will be supporting new schools and football stadiums for years to come.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Vote NO on the Homeless Tax

The following opinion piece appears on the Kalamazoo GOP website.

-------------------------------

On November 3, voters will be asked to support yet another tax increase, this time claiming to address the issue of homelessness.  The Kalamazoo GOP urges votes to oppose this measure.

Voters in Kalamazoo County are being subjected to more and more taxes.  Just in the last year, tax increases for buses and KRESA passed in most of Kalamazoo County.  In addition, the legislature passed the “Amazon tax”, and following the defeat of Proposal 1, it is considering a substantial gas tax increase.  A city income tax is being discussed in Kalamazoo.  We have been taxed enough.

The homeless tax was passed by a 6-5 party-line vote by the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.  It would increase taxes by .1 mills, generating $800,000 per year.  Doubtless most of those supporting the millage have good intentions and sincerely want to address the issue of homelessness in Kalamazoo County.  But good intentions are not enough to ensure good policy outcomes.  Many policy disasters have been caused by people with the best of intentions.

Thus we should ask what the actual effects of this tax increase would be.  Recall the basic economic principle of incentives:  If you punish something, you will get less of it, and if you reward something, you will get more of it.  Thus if people are given money on the condition that they are homeless, you will end up with more homelessness.  This may seem counterintuitive to some, but decades of trying to fight poverty with handouts has only served to lock people into poverty.

In addition, increasing property taxes, and hence apartment rents, will make life worse for people who are not homeless.  Some people on the margin who are just getting by may actually be pushed into homelessness thanks to this tax.

We should not forget that there is already an institution in this county fighting homelessness—the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.  It recognizes that to end homelessness requires not just a handout, but a “hand up”, addressing the behaviors and conditions that lead to homelessness.  Creating a new government bureaucracy to compete with the Gospel Mission could undermine its effectiveness.  Government is usually more wasteful and less effective than the private sector.

This tax proposal was timed to coincide with city elections in Kalamazoo and Portage, when townships don’t have anything else on the ballot.  Please remember to vote on November 3.  We urge you to oppose this tax increase.

Kalamazoo GOP Executive Committee

The Welfare State Explained



This profound little speech occurs in the middle of the action movie Fast Five.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Ted Cruz in Kalamazoo

Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz visited Kalamazoo on Monday morning.  He spoke at a rally to an audience of about 600.  He gave a stump speech, covering Obamacare, Iran, immigration, Planned Parenthood, his plans for his first day as president, and his family's biography.

Cruz' wife Heidi Cruz, campaign volunteer Wendy Day, and state rep Ray Franz spoke prior to Cruz.

Media coverage focused on Cruz' response to a question about Syrian refugees.  Cruz said that it would be crazy for America to accept Muslim refugees, who should instead be settled in Muslim countries.

Ted Cruz in Michigan: 'Nothing short of crazy' to take in Syrian Muslim refugees

The Mlive article also gives lavish attention to Lorence Wenke, one of two (!) protesters, who was there promoting his usual hobby horse.

Cruz is a true conservative hero and conservative voters should strongly consider giving him support.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Second Hoax at Kalamazoo College

Back in March, this blog covered a race hoax at Kalamazoo College.
Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College

There were actually two related hoaxes.  The first was a false accusation by a student government leader of racist threats by an advocate for open carry.  This was quickly debunked when the actual recording of the meeting showed nothing of the sort.

The second hoax was a threat anonymously posted to a student commission Google doc on March 4.
K-College officials learned early Wednesday that a "highly inflammatory entry" had been posted in the Student Commission Google Doc, an online collaboration tool that allows for group sharing and anonymous editing, according to an email to the campus community.

"The entry is racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic" and included a direct threat to K-College faculty, the email stated. 
 The post, which included "vitriol aimed at a wide range of campus members," included the following line, according to another email, this one from the president's staff to K-College faculty and staff: "At 900AM 3/5/15 I am going to start systematically executing faculty at Kalamazoo U, that will teach them the value of campus carry." Neither email repeated the entire posting.
Mlive reported this without any skepticism.  But there were several reasons to believe this was a hoax.  As this blog wrote in March:
At this point, we should note that virtually every racial 'hate crime' on a college campus has been proven to be a hoax.  As noted by National ReviewThe College FixMichelle Malkin and Ann Coulter
Instead, all the hair-on-fire college rape stories have been scams: the Duke lacrosse team’s gang-rape of a stripper; Lena Dunham’s rape by Oberlin College’s “resident Republican,” Barry; and Rolling Stone‘s fraternity gang-rape at UVA. Two of the three were foisted on the publicand disproved in publiconly in the last few weeks.
The only epidemic sweeping the nation seems to be Munchausen rape syndrome. What’s next, college noose hoaxes?
 
The portions of the message quoted in the Gazette article sound like they were written to implicate gun rights supporters.  Who would be most likely to know about the student commission Google doc?  Also, who benefits from the attention and sympathy the threat provokes?
The police launched an investigation.
That email said the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and K-College are taking the threat seriously, but KDPS officers believe it likely came from someone not connected to campus and that it is unlikely the person will follow through with the threat.
It turns out KDPS went one-for-two on the predictions.
Police and prosecutors declined to say who charges are being sought against in the case. However, police reports and search warrants obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act show that two K-College students quickly became the focus of the KDPS investigation of the online threat. 
The students, a woman who has since graduated and another woman who was a first-year student, came to the attention of detectives in the hours after the incident. 
The threat was part of a series of anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist and sexist posts that were entered on the Google Doc between 10:37 p.m. and 11:51 p.m. on March 3. The threat said, "AT 900 AM 3/5/15 I AM GOING TO START SYSTEMATICALLY EXECUTING FACULTY AT KALAMAZOO U, THAT WILL TEACH THEM THE VALUE OF CAMPUS CARRY."
So it now seems all but certain that the threat was a hoax by a K College student to revive the controversy that had been dying down.  The goal of all this controversy was the creation of an "Intercultural Center", whatever that is.  It worked.  In June, K College announced that it would create an Intercultural Center.

The student(s) behind this hoax should be fully prosecuted, and K College should cancel the Intercultural Center as the fruit of a poisoned tree.

UPDATE: Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting has refused to file charges in the case.  He claims that the identity of the perpetrator cannot be conclusively identified.  The police apparently thought otherwise, since they sought charges.  Is liberal democrat prosecutor Getting covering for a politically inconvenient perpetrator?

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bus Tax Passes

The Kalamazoo Bus Tax passed 63%-37% on Tuesday.  While it passed in most precincts, it is worth examining where it failed.

The proposal lost in every Comstock precinct except precinct 6 (Gull Road).  It lost narrowly in 3 (River St.) and 8 (North Central) and lost handily everywhere else.  In Kalamazoo Township, it lost in precinct 2 (Northwood) and won everywhere else.  The proposal passed in all precincts in Kalamazoo, Oshtemo, and Parchment.  In Portage, the proposal failed in precincts 4/6 and 17 and narrowly passed in 5/10/12 and 7 in south Portage.

Thus areas with little or no bus service were the most likely to oppose the plan.  While the special district certainly makes most sense than taxing the entire county for buses, it still is unfair to people who are miles away from the nearest bus stop.  A better plan would be to allow major institutions like Meijer, WalMart, KVCC, and large apartment complexes to pay for their own bus service--and see how much is really necessary.

Previous:
Pay for Your Own Buses!
Bus Tax Plan
Bus Tax Never Dies
Bus Tax Zone
More Bus Taxes
Taxes on the Ballot
Tax Hike Plans
Future Tax Hikes?
They Won't Take NO for an Answer
Tax Eaters Are Never Full
The bus routes have been saved
Ax the bus tax
Tax increase for busing?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

2016 Michigan Congressional Races

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and Red Racing Horses. This post was last updated on June 6, 2016.

Michigan will see several interesting congressional races in 2016, with two open seats and possible competitive primary challenges.  Michigan now has 14 congressional seats.



There are several articles that analyze the general political leanings of the districts.
Michigan Redistricting: Congressional Map Passed
Republican Michigander Congressional District Profiles (Sidebar at right)

District 1 (Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula) Lean Republican.
CD 2012: 48.1-47.6 CD 2014: 52-45 Romney: 53.5 McCain: 48.5
In 2010, Dr. Dan Benishek won an open seat vacated by democrat Rep. Bart Stupak against democrat state Rep. Gary McDowell 52-41 and won the rematch 48.1-47.6 in 2012.  He beat former general Jerry Cannon in 2014.  Benishek pledged to serve only three terms, but announced that he would run again before changing his mind and retiring.  Candidates include moderate state senator Tom Casperson, former senator Jason Allen, and retired general Jack Bergman.  Democrats are touting former Michigan democrat chairman Lon Johnson, a liberal who bought a small house in Kalkaska County.  Cannon will also run again.

District 2 (Ottowa, Muskegon) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 61-34 CD 2014: 64-33 Romney: 56 McCain: 50.4
Republican former state rep. Bill Huizinga won a close primary in 2010 to replace Pete Hoekstra, and was easily reelected in 2012 and 2014. Since then he has generally voted a fairly conservative line. This remains the most Republican district in Michigan.  The democrat candidate is Dennis Murphy.

District 3 (Kent, Calhoun) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 52.6-44.1 CD 2014: 58-39 Romney: 53.1 McCain: 48.6
Republican state rep. Justin Amash won the primary to replace moderate Republican Vern Ehlers, in 2010. Amash is a libertarian in the mold of Rep. Ron Paul. He has made some enemies in Washington, and ticked off Right to Life and the NRA.  He defeated moderate businessman Brian Ellis, who had significant self-funding, 57-43 in the 2014 primary.  The democrat candidate is Douglas Smith.

District 4 (central Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 63-34 CD 2014: 56-39 Romney: 53.4 McCain: 48.6
Republican state senator John Moolenaar of Midland defeated self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell and Tea Partyer Peter Konetchy 52-36-11 in the 2014 primary to replace retiring congressman Dave Camp.  He is unopposed this year.

District 5 (Genesee, Saginaw, Bay) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 31-65 CD 2014: 31-67 Romney: 38.4 McCain: 35.4
Former Genesee Treasurer Dan Kildee succeeded his uncle Dale Kildee in 2012.  The Republican candidate is Al Hardwick.

District 6 (SW Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 55-43 CD 2014: 56-40 Romney: 50 McCain: 45
Moderate Republican Fred Upton has won by wide margins since defeating conservative Mark Siljander in 1986. Upton became Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010.  Upton defeated democrat Mike O'Brien 2010, and Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements in 2014.  These races were closer than Upton's previous 20-40 point margins.  Clements is running again in 2016.

District 7 (south-central Michigan) Lean Republican.
CD 2012: 53-43 CD 2014: 53-41 Romney: 50.9 McCain: 47.4
Republican Tim Walberg defeated liberal democrat Mark Schauer in a hard-fought race in 2010. This followed Schauer's defeat of Walberg in 2008, Walberg's defeat of RINO Joe Schwarz in 2006, and Schwarz's winning a divided Republican primary to replace Nick Smith in 2004. Walberg defeated democrat attorney Kurt Haskell in 2012 and former state rep. Pam Byrnes of Washtenaw County in 2014. He is being challenged by Doug North in the primary and democrat state rep (2012-present) Gretchen Driskell, who won 53% and 56% in her Washtenaw district, in the general.

District 8 (Ingham, Livingston, N Oakland) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 59-37 CD 2014: 55-42 Romney: 51.1 McCain: 46.4
Former state senator Mike Bishop of NE Oakland beat state rep. Tom McMillin 60-40 in the 2014 Republican primary to replace retiring congressman Mike Rogers.  Bishop defeated Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing in the general.  Actress Melissa Gilbert, who recently moved to the district, dropped out of the race claiming health issues after her campaign flopped. Since Linda Keefe was disqualified due to lacking signatures, the democrats may choose a new nominee via convention.

District 9 (S Macomb, Royal Oak, Bloomfield) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 34-62 CD 2014: 36-60 Romney: 41.8 McCain: 40.4
Democrat Sander Levin has represented this district since 1982.  Levin is more liberal than the district, but he is popular enough to win here as long as he wants. He may be succeeded by a less liberal Macomb county democrat.  Christopher Morse is the Republican candidate.

District 10 (N Macomb, the Thumb) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 69-30 CD 2014: 69-29 Romney: 55.2 McCain: 50
Republican Candice Miller is retiring.  Republicans running to replace her include conservative state senator (2010-present) Phil Pavlov, who has represented most of the Thumb portion of the district, conservative former senator (2002-2010) Alan Sanborn of northern Macomb County, state rep. Anthony Forlini, and David VanAssche.  Also running is rich self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell, who lost the Republican primary in district 4 in 2014 and led the fight to defeat proposal 1, a large tax increase.  Former state rep Frank Accavitti (2002-2008) from outside the district is running.

District 11 (NW Wayne, SW Oakland, Troy) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 50.8-44.4 CD 2014: 56-41 Romney: 52.2 McCain: 48.4
Establishment Republican David Trott defeated Tea Party Republican Kerry Bentivolio 66-34 in the 2014 Republican primary.  Bentivolio became an "accidental congressman" in 2012 after incumbent Thad McCotter was disqualified in a petition fraud scandal.  Trott defeated former diplomat Bobby McKenzie in the general.  Anil Kumar is the democrat candidate.

District 12 (Downriver, Ann Arbor) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 29-68 CD 2014: 31-65 Romney: 32.7 McCain: 31.2
In 2014, democrat Debbie Dingell easily replaced her husband John Dingell in Congress after his 58 years (!) in office.  Jeff Jones is the Republican candidate.

District 13 (W Detroit, Westland) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 14-82 CD 2014: 16-80 Romney: 14 McCain: 14
This district has been represented by democrat John Conyers since 1964. Conyers' image has been tarnished since his wife Monica, formerly Detroit city council president, pled guilty to bribery and served time in federal prison. He won only 55% in the 2012 primary.  In 2014, Conyers was nearly disqualified due to having signature gatherers who were not registered to vote, but a judge ordered him back on the ballot.  He defeated pastor Horace Sheffield 74-26 in the democrat primary.  Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is challenging Conyers in the primary.  Jeff Gorman is the Republican candidate.

District 14 (E Detroit, Southfield, Farmington, Pontiac) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 16-82 CD 2014: 20-78 Romney: 18 McCain: 18
In 2014, Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence defeated state rep. Rudy Hobbs, and former Congressman Hansen Clarke 36-32-31 in the democrat primary for the seat held by Gary Peters, who was elected to the US Senate.  This district has had four different representatives (Lawrence, Peters, Clarke, and Carolyn Kilpatrick) in the last four cycles.  Lawrence is being challenged by Terrance Morrison and Vanessa Moss in the primary.  Howard Klausner is the Republican candidate.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2014 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

The American Conservative Union has long been the premier organization rating members of Congress on how conservative their voting records are.  Recently, ACU began rating state legislators on their voting records, and it just released its third ratings of the Michigan state legislature.  I will summarize the relevant information here.

ACU State Ratings 2014--MI

ACU rated 12 house votes and 13 senate votes from 2013 and 2014.  Ten of the bills are the same for both halves of the legislature. The most common topics for the state house votes were taxes (3 votes), spending (3), and regulation (3).  The most common topic for the state senate votes were taxes (4 votes) and spending (4).

ACU Michigan state senate ratings 2013/2014:

100%: Pavlov, Emmons, Moolenaar
92%: Colbeck, Brandenberg, Rocca, Robertson, Proos, Jones, Schuitmaker, Green, Booher
85%: Marleau, Hune, Jansen, Hildenbrand, Meekhof
77%: Pappageorge, Kowall, Caswell, Richardville, Nofs, Kahn, Hansen, Walker, Casperson
62%: Hunter
31-33%: Hopgood, Andersen, Ananich
23%: Bieda
15-17%: Young, Johnson, Gregory, Warren, Whitmer
8-9%: Hood, Smith

The average for the Republicans was 86%, up from 78%.  The average for the democrats was 23%, up from 9%.  The overall average was 66%, up from 59%.

The biggest changes from 2012/13 were Hunter (+49), Hopgood (+25), and Casperson (+21).

The improvement probably has more to do with more generous vote selection by ACU than any substantial swing to the right in the Michigan legislature.  Tupak Hunter does seem to have genuinely swung to the right.

The previous years' scores are available at the links at the bottom.

ACU Michigan state house ratings 2013/2014 (rounded to nearest 8%):

100%: Lund, Nesbitt
92%: Howrylak, Zorn, O'Brien, MacGregor, Hooker, Pscholka, Genetski, Kelly, Johnson, Franz, Rendon, Foster
83%: Forlini, Farrington, Lafontaine, Goike, Kesto, McCready, Kurtz, Shirkey, Outman, Yonker, Pagel, Lauwers, Daley, Callton, Victory, Leonard, Bumstead, MacMaster, McBroom
75%: Walsh, Heise, Somerville, Crawford, Rogers, Haines, Kowall, McMillin, Jacobsen, Denby, Graves, Jenkins, Lori, Bolger, Poleski, Verhuelen, Brown, Glardon, Lyons, Price, Haveman, Stamas, Cotter, Potvin, Schmidt, Dianda
67%: Clemente, Haugh, Muxlow, Lamonte, Brunner, Pettalia, Kivela
58%: Kosowski, Lavoy, Greimel, Smiley, Driskell, Cochran, Oakes
50%: Nathan, Darany, Slavens, Phelps, McCann, Abed, Brinks
42%: Knezek, Kandrevas, Lane, Rutledge, Segal, Dillon
33%: Olumba, Cavanaugh, Yanez, Stanley,
25%: Robinson, Durhal, Stallworth, Geiss, Townsend, Lipton, Irwin, Zemke, Schor
17%: Tlaib, Santana, Hobbs, Barnett, Faris, Singh, Hovey-Wright
8%: Roberts, Switalski
0%: Banks, Talabi

The house average was 62%, up from 53%.  The average for (current) house Republicans was 82%, up from 75%. The average for current house democrats was 39%, up from 29%.  Both caucuses were closer to the center that their senate counterparts, particularly the democrats.

The members who scored 100% are (term-limited) Pete Lund and Aric Nesbitt.  The lowest-scoring Republicans were Paul Muxlow and Peter Pettalia at 67%.  The top-scoring democrats were Terry Brown (term-limited, lost a state senate race) and Scott Dianda at 75%.

The largest positive changes were Clemente (+47), Haugh (+46), Brown (+45), Darany (+40), Kosowski (+33), McCready (+33), Zorn (+32), Lori (+30), Kivela (+29), Kandrevas (+27), Howrylak (+27), Rutledge (+27), Foster (+27), Slavens (+25), Nesbitt (+25), Forlini (+23), McBroom (+23), O'Brien (+22), Pscholka (+22), Brunner (+22), Johnson (+22).  Several of them faced competitive primary or general elections.

The largest negative change was Faris (-21).

As with the senate scores, the improvement probably has more to do with more generous vote selection by ACU than any substantial swing to the right in the Michigan legislature.

Of course, the usual caveats apply to any legislative ratings system. Legislators' scores will vary from year to year, so it will be interesting to compare these scores to future years' scores. Also, ratings only cover issues that were actually voted upon, so controversial issues that never made it to a vote can't be scored.

Nonetheless, ratings such as this are a valuable tool for voters in future elections.

Previous:
2012-2013 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings
2012 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 Kalamazoo Election Preview

This article was last updated August 20, 2015.

Michigan will see several elections in 2015. This is a preview of elections in Kalamazoo County.   The November election will have Kalamazoo and Portage city elections.

February 24: Kalamazoo Township passed a road millage.

May 5: Proposal 1 would have raised Michigan taxes by 2 billion per year to pay for road improvements and many other things.  It was defeated 20%-80%.  There was a KRESA millage that narrowly passed.

August 4: There will be a bus tax millage on the ballot in much of Kalamazoo County.
Pay for Your Own Buses!

November 3: This is the day for local city elections.

Kalamazoo City Commission

All seven seats on the Kalamazoo City Commission are up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor Bobby Hopewell (on since 2003), Don Cooney (1997), David Anderson (2005), Barb Miller (2005), Robert Cinabro (2010), Jack Urban (2013), and Eric Cunningham (2015). Cunningham was appointed to replace Stephanie Moore, who was elected to the Kalamazoo County Commission.

In 2014, Kalamazoo voters passed a charter amendment changing the charter by electing the mayor separately and implementing staggered four-year terms for the other seats (similar to the system Portage uses).  This year, all six commissioners will be elected together, with the top three winning four-year terms, and the next three winning two-year terms.

Hopewell, who has been mayor since 2007, is running again.  He is being challenged by Kris Mbah.  Both are black liberal democrats.

Cooney, Anderson, Urban, and Cunningham are seeking reelection as commissioners, while Miller and Cinabro are not.  Eleven other candidates are running:

Leona Carter: travel trainer/outreach specialist for Disability Network of Southwest Michigan
Cody Dekker: community organizer
Grant Fletcher: director food and nutrition and retail services for Bronson Methodist Hospital
Sonjalita Hulbert: supervisor with Coventry Cares health services, mainstream Republican
Erin Knott: Obamacare enrollment organizer
Jason Milan: small business owner
Matthew Milcarek: construction manager and frequent Mlive commenter
Kevin Staten: politics unknown
Shannon Sykes: social justice consultant
Daniel VanSweden: Withdrew from the race
Reid Youngs: politics unknown

16 candidates file Kalamazoo City Commission, 2 for mayor

Portage City Council

The mayor of Portage, Peter Strazdas (mayor since 2005), is running unopposed for reelection. Three of the six seats on the commission were also up for election. Those seats are held by Patricia Randall (2009), Jim Pearson (2011), and Richard Ford (2013), who are all running for reelection.  Ford was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Elizabeth Campbell.

In recent years, a divide has developed on the council between two factions.  One faction consists of Strazdas and councilmembers Claudette Reid and Terry Urban.  The other consists of councilmembers Randall, Pearson, Ford, and Nasim Ansari. Strazdas is a moderate Republican, while the others do not strongly identify with a party.

There are two other candidates for council:
Jeff Bright: financial advisor
Tim Earl: fire safety consultant

Five file for three four-year terms on Portage City Council; Strazdas unopposed for mayor

There will be a proposal on the ballot to decriminalize marijuana in Portage.

Marijuana decriminalization will be on November ballot in Portage

Homeless Tax

There will be a tax increase on the ballot countywide to support homeless families.

Tax to assist homeless Kalamazoo County families headed to Nov. 3 ballot

Upton 56% Conservative in 2014

Congressman Fred Upton scored a 56% rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) in 2014.  These are the votes rated by ACU where he voted the wrong way.

--------------------------------------

1. HR 3547 (Roll Call 21) Omnibus Appropriations. This $1.1 trillion spending bill for Fiscal Year 2014 increased spending by $45 billion over the Budget Control Act of 2011 with a massive increase of 25-29% for Obama Administration programs in the Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education and State Department sections. It also included bills that have nothing to do with appropriations, such as an extension of flood insurance subsidies. ACU opposes these bills that are written in secret and passed with no amendments allowed. The House passed the bill on January 15, 2014 by a vote of 359-67.

3. HR 2642 (Roll Call 31) Farm Bill. This bill is the final version of the farm bill that replaces direct payments to farmers with a more expensive increase in crop insurance subsidies with no caps on subsidies for wealthy farm corporations. ACU has long opposed these Depressionera programs and opposed this bill. The House passed the bill on January 29, 2014 by a vote of 251-166.

6. H Con Res 96 (Roll Call 175) Conservative Budget. The Woodall amendment to the budget bill presented a conservative alternative that would have balanced the budget in four years by freezing domestic spending at $60 billion below current levels, reformed entitlement programs, and eliminated wasteful programs that ACU has long opposed. ACU supported this alternative as a reasonable attempt to stop increases in our national debt which reached $18 trillion in 2014.The House defeated the amendment on April 10, 2014 by a vote of 133-291.

11. HR 4660 (Roll Call 243) Wasteful Spending. The Pompeo amendment to the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill would have eliminated the Economic Development Administration and used the funds to reduce the deficit. ACU has long opposed this agency that uses taxpayer money for pork barrel projects that serve as monuments to politicians, such as the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park in Las Vegas, and so supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on May 29, 2014 by a vote of 129-280.

13. HR 4660 (Roll Call 253) Legal Services Corporation. The Austin Scott amendment to the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill would have eliminated funding for the Legal Services Corporation. ACU has long opposed funding for this agency that has not been authorized by Congress for the last 34 years and is filled with waste and fraud and so supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on May 29, 2014 by a vote of 116-290.

15. HR 4745 (Roll Call 274) Government Housing Programs. The Chabot amendment to the Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill would have reduced the Section 8 housing voucher program by 10 percent and apply the funds to deficit reduction. ACU opposes welfare programs that have no time limits or work requirements and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on June 9, 2014 by a vote of 127-279.

20. HR 4870 Roll Call 334) Biofuel Mandates. The Gosar amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill would prohibit the Defense Department from using biofuels instead of far less expensive petroleum based fuels. ACU opposes diverting funds that should go for national security purposes to politically-motivated global warming programs and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on June 20, 2014 by a vote of 205-208.

21. HR 4923 (Roll Call 377) Energy Subsidies. The McClintock amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill eliminates $3 billion in energy subsidies. ACU opposes these programs that pick winners and losers in the marketplace and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on July 9, 2014 by a vote of 97-321.

22. HR 4923 (Roll Call 388) Labor Law. The Steve King amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill would have barred the use of funds to enforce the DavisBacon Act. ACU has long opposed this act’s requirement to pay “prevailing wages” on federal projects, thus driving up their cost, and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on July 10, 2014 by a vote of 181-239.

24. HR 5272 (Roll Call 479) Immigration. This bill reverses President Obama’s Executive order deferring action on some illegal immigrants but not others. ACU opposes this type of executive action that allows the president to change existing law without legislation and supported this bill. The House passed the bill on August 1, 2014 by a vote of 216-192.

25. HR 83 (Roll Call 563) Omnibus Appropriations. This 1,600 page bill uses $19 billion in budget gimmicks to comply with spending caps, increases funding for pork barrel programs such as Community Development Block Grants and includes hundreds of pages of bills that have nothing to do with appropriations and that have not been voted on by either the House or Senate. ACU opposes these bills that are written in secret with no amendments allowed and opposed this bill. The House passed the bill on December 11, 2014 by a vote of 219-206.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Schuitmaker Repeats 'One in Five' Myth

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is co-hosting "Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder's inaugural sexual assault prevention summit".
Schuitmaker said one in five women is sexually assaulted on campus, and out of those women, only 12 percent actually report a sexual assault. She said the culture has to improve so that victims feel they are taken seriously and feel comfortable reporting sexual assaults, in order to improve the accuracy of reporting statistics.
One way to improve the accuracy of statistics is to stop repeating debunked ones.  The claim that "one in five women is sexually assaulted on campus" is false. The actual number is 6.1 per 1000, or about 1 in 164, according to a Justice Department study.
The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).
This myth originated with a fake feminist 'study' that intentionally misclassified non-rape as rape. This myth has been used to create hysteria on campuses and support false rape accusations, such as at University of Virginia. Hopefully, Senator Schuitmaker will avoid repeating this false statistic in the future.