Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Barracuda

UPDATE: More information below.

John McCain has picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his choice for Vice-President.
Unlike McCain, Palin is a real conservative. She fought the corrupt Alaska establishment and won. She canceled the infamous bridge to nowhere. She supported Pat Buchanan in (correction: 1996) and has had kind words for Ron Paul.

UPDATE: Liberals are really flipping out over Palin's selection. David Pawlowski, the "Chair" of the Kalamazoo Democratic Party was quoted on WKZO saying that Palin guarantees that Obama will win the election since Palin is a "former small-town mayor" and "governor of the smallest state in the union". Alaska is NOT the smallest state in the union. What a fool.

Some interesting articles:
Palin v. Obama:
Club for Growth: Palin Links
Ed Morrissey: Desperation from Democrats
Stephan Kinsella: Palin "Reeks of Local" -- The Dumb, Dumb Demonrats

Books in Brief

An Inconvenient Book
by Glenn Beck

This book by the sardonic talk radio host is a humorous introduction to politics. It covers around twenty different political and cultural issues relevant to our times. It mixes facts and reason with counterfactual jokes and humorous asides. It contains plenty of sidebars and pull-quotes, resembling the style of a modern textbook, except interesting. Except for the chapter on "peak oil", it is solidly conservative. Anyone looking for humor and an introduction to politics will find this book enjoyable, but those searching for in-depth policy analysis will have to go elsewhere.

The Revolution, a Manifesto
by Congressman Ron Paul

This book is a short introduction to Paul's constitutionalist libertarian political philosophy. The chapters on economic freedom and the Constitution should please most conservatives. The chapter on money and the Federal Reserve, while not an issue that conservatives have usually focused on, is quite compelling. It is short, non-comprehensive introduction to Austrian economic theory and the theory of how monetary inflation causes the business cycle. The chapter on civil liberties will likely inspire both agreement and disagreement, as Paul takes issue with the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and other recent presidential policies. The chapter that will find the least agreement is the one on foreign policy.

Paul explains his non-interventionist philosophy, and exposes some of the flaws of imposing democracy and nation-building. Paul's contention that the main cause of terrorism and enemy attacks does not hold up, however. So-called blowback certainly does exist, but that does not mean that it is the main cause of such problems. Regardless of where the reader comes down on this issue, Paul's view is a serious one that deserves serious consideration. Readers who want to know what Ron Paul is all about should read this book to find out.

Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When Government Breaks Its Own Laws
by Andrew Napolitano

Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge and Fox News commentator, has written a defense of civil liberties against both local and federal encroachments. For those whose conception of civil liberties is whatever the ACLU advocates, Napolitano's constitutionalist libertarian perspective deserves consideration.

Napolitano criticizes such practices as entrapment, plea bargains in exchange for testimony, unwarranted traffic stops, and more. His defence of natural law against legal positivism, defence of gun rights and the Second Amendment, and criticism of Janet Reno's Waco massacre, Ruby Ridge manslaughter, and child abuse witch hunts will please conservatives. Some of his other contentions will inspire more debate. Entrapment is certainly unjustified when the government dreams up the entire crime and talks someone into doing it, but Napolitano criticizes even entrapment of sexual predators who seeks meetings with children on the internet and actually show up for the meetings. It is hard to argue against his assertion that offering reduced sentences in exchange for testimony can lead to perjury. But the unanswered question in this case and others is what would happen to crime rates if we did things Napolitano's way?

There are a few other issues with Napolitano's philosophy. He acknowledges that judicial review was once uncommon, but defends it as part of natural law. He also views procedural rights as in the third through eighth amendments as equivalent to natural rights, as in the first and second amendments. Nonetheless, the book is thought-provoking and worthy of consideration.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


This update focuses on money. IndyMac Bank and several smaller banks have experienced bank runs. The housing market is down following the collapse of the housing bubble. The Federal Reserve continues to inflate the dollar, which is the cause of these problems.

Jeff Tucker: Why Taxes Don't Matter Much Anymore
Gary North: You, Me, and the FDIC
Gary Wolfram: Econ 101: Is the Fed a Source of Our Economic Problems?
Ron Paul: Faith-Based Currency
Will Grigg: The Economic Show Trials Begin
Will Grigg: Women And Children Last
Ron Paul: Economic Bubbles
Ron Paul: Rising Energy Prices and the Falling Dollar

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tax Eaters Are Never Full

The litany of tax increases in Kalamazoo County in the past few years is getting too long to list. Most were passed, while a couple were shot down by voters. The Gazette always supports the proposals, with lots of flowery articles about how much we need more money for [better schools/teacher pay/public transportation/new jail].

The latest one is a proposal that will be on the ballot in November. Something called the "Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority" has put a tax increase on the ballot to take more of taxpayers' money and give it to government "transit services".

Kalamazoo County authority to seek four-year transit tax in November

The KCTA, which dishonors the acronym of the now-disbanded Kalamazoo County Taxpayers Association, is not an elected body. It was created by the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners, along with the city of Kalamazoo and the state of Michigan, and it serves to conveniently avoid making any elected officials accountable for voting for a tax increase. Its chairwoman, Linda Teeter, is a former far-left Kalamazoo City Commissioner and staffer for liberal democrat former State Rep. Mary Brown.

The KCTA's big plan is to saddle the entire county with the costs of government transit services. Previously, Metro Transit had been run by the city of Kalamazoo. But Kalamazoo has been losing population for several decades, old businesses have been moving out of the city, and new businesses have been locating outside city limits. Several of the largest employers in the city are government entities, including WMU. The cause and consequence of all this is that the city of Kalamazoo has much higher taxes than the surrounding political jurisdictions.

That's not fair, of course, so the county bureaucrats, always looking to help, want to distribute the tax burden to the rest of the county.

If voters approve the tax, the authority will levy 0.63 mills in 2008, gradually increasing the tax rate each year up to 0.86 mills by 2011. The first year should generate about $5 million, officials said Monday night.

The transportation millage would replace two expiring taxes: 1.38 mill for Kalamazoo city taxpayers and 0.38 mill for the rest of Kalamazoo County.
But why should voters in Vicksburg or Richland have to pay for bus service when buses don't go there? More fundamentally, why should anyone have to pay for transportation systems they don't use?

Others, such as Texas Township Supervisor Ron Commissaris and authority Chairwoman Linda Teeter, say there is definite need for public transportation, and the entire county should be responsible for paying for it.

"It needs to be subsidized,'' Commissaris said. "Texas Township has always supported countywide millages that's come in the past.''

Both low-income workers and professionals struggle with high gas prices, and many choose the bus instead of driving to work, Teeter said. Increased ridership is evidence of that, she noted.

"Public transportation is vital for this economic development Kalamazoo County has taken on,'' she said, adding the authority will re-examine its current routes and look how to expand further into the county next year.
Texas Township voters booted Commissaris out of office earlier this month. The usual government flunkies follow the typical script of saying "x is important (for the economy!), therefore government should spend money on x". But why can't the people who use these services pay for them? If there's so much demand, why is there a need for subsides?

In reality, the government buses provide poor service at high prices. As previously stated on this blog:

My own experience with the bus system has reinforced my beliefs. Like most Americans, I avoid buses when at all possible. However, I have used the bus system a few times on Western's campus.

To start with, I should point out campus is practically the ideal scenario for making buses practical. The population density is high. The entry and exit points (e. g. dorms and classrooms) are concentrated. People have to move frequently from place to place.

Nonetheless, the bus system on campus was highly frustrating. The buses were often late and occasionally never came at all. For a student needing to be in class on time, this was simply unacceptable. Occasionally, during peak hours, the bus would be so full that no more people could fit on it.

Most people will never ride buses regularly because they require waiting around. They require you to schedule your life around the bus schedule. They often don't go where you need to go. They don't let you keep things handy, as you can in your car.
Last year, Western was going to cut two bus routes contracted through Metro Transit due to lack of funds. After students protested, Western hired Indian Trails, a private company, to do the same service for less money.

The result is a contract that reduces costs by about 25 percent from last year's, despite increased route traffic, and saves nearly $900,000 over previously projected costs.
There is no reason that the rest of the bus system couldn't be similarly privatized, except that the government employee unions wouldn't like it.

Even better, why not just let private business provide bus service with no government involvement? There's no reason why they couldn't. Then, we'd find out how much "public transportation" people really want, meaning how much they're willing to pay for. But liberal ideologues won't do that, because they're always trying to force people into socialist government transportation systems, and they won't take no for an answer.

If the millage doesn't pass, Teeter said the authority will put it on the ballot again, adding there is no set waiting period before the authority can ask voters again.
The bus routes have been saved
Ax the bus tax
Bus Tax: The Facts
Tax increase for busing?

Biden Time

So Barack Obama picked Delaware Senator Joe Biden to be his running mate. This pick is interesting for several reasons. First, Obama is running as the candidate of change, yet he picked a Washington insider who has been a Senator for thirty-six years.

Second, the main reason that Obama beat Hillary for the democratic nomination is that he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. So when Obama could pick anyone to be his Vice-presidential nominee, who did pick? Someone who supported the Iraq war! Biden didn't just vote for it, he used his committee hearings to back it.

Biden is one of those people who is said to have experience because he's been around forever, whether or not he accomplished anything. Biden has never had a private sector job since getting out of school except for a couple years as a lawyer, which hardly counts. He is said to have foreign policy experience by virtue of being a committee chairman, where there is usually no easy way of measuring someone's accomplishments.

Biden is a down-the-line liberal, supporting abortion on demand, banning guns, amnesty for illegal aliens, big government, and more. He has also pushed for the horrible Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) and CEDAW.

Here are some articles on Biden.
Ann Coulter: Joe Biden: Hair We Can Believe In
Ross Kamisky: Obama-Biden: Marching in Liberal Lockstep
Club for Growth: Joe Biden's Record on Economic Issues
Justin Raimondo: Biden Means Business As Usual
Phyllis Schlafly: ABA and Biden Join Feminists' War on Fathers
Phyllis Schlafly: Will Biden Lead The Way To More Feminist Pork?
Phyllis Schlafly: Sink The Law Of The Sea Again

Attacking Walberg

The race in the 7th Congressional District between Republican Tim Walberg and democrat Mark Schauer continues to be one of the hottest in the nation.

A new poll reported the race as very tight, with Walberg holding only a slim 43-40 lead. But there are serious questions about the methodology of the poll. A previous poll on the race was skewed by using the worthless "biography" methodology, but was widely reported in the media without clearly pointing this out.

Then there is this absurd blog entry by mainstream media reporter Susan Demas. It calls Rep. Bill Sali, Republican of Idaho, "Tim Walberg's best friend" without ever giving any evidence for this assertion. Her whole case against Sali is based on unflattering quotes from his political rivals. In one of the quotes, Mike Simpson says that he would like to throw Sali out a window, which Demas seems to think reflects badly on Sali, rather than Simpson. This is the sort of garbage that MSM types blame bloggers for.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This update focuses on government. Government intervention caused the housing crisis. Government continues to cause trouble through redistribution, farm welfare, traffic laws, and proposals for "national service".

Steve Sailer: Freddie Mac’s Richard Syron—Architect Of The “Diversity Recession”
Thomas Sowell: Bankrupt "Exploiters": Part II
Don Devine: Faddish Planning Fantasies
Thomas Woods: You Belong to Us
Will Grigg: Servile Nation
Walter Williams: A Nation of Thieves
Terry Jeffrey: How Big Can Government Get?
John Stossel: Tear Down the Stop Signs!
Doug French: Votes of Idiots
Phil Brand: Will Senate OK Akaka's Hawaii Race Test?
Jacob Hornberger: The Enemy-Combatant Attack on Freedom
Ron Paul: Sowing More Big Government with the Farm Bill

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Free-market Universities?

Will traditional universities be replaced by online, for-profit universities?

Wal-Mart University: No More Boola-Boola

Saturday, August 09, 2008


This update focuses on the culture war. Liberals, government, and judicial activists threaten traditional American culture. Battles continue over patriotism, platforms, religion, free speech, and more.

Phyllis Schlafly: Do Party Platforms Really Matter?
Jack Langer: The Sensitivity Police: Where's American Multiculturalism Heading?
Walter Williams: The Ultimate Resource
Thomas Sowell: Does Patriotism Matter?
Ericka Andersen: The Racism and Politics of Planned Parenthood
Don Devine: Judges Ignore Real Constitution
Gary North: What Would Jesus Steal?
Phyllis Schlafly: Why Hillary Clinton Lost
Pat Buchanan: Return of the Censors
Thomas Sowell: Mascot Politics

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

61st District Election Analysis

The race for the Republican nomination for the 61st state house district was decided on Tuesday. The results, broken down by precinct, are available from Election Magic.

DETAILED results for State Representative 61st District

Here are the overall results.

Larry DeShazor: .. 4015 49%
Margaret O'Brien:. 3675 45%
David Yardley: ..... 502 . 6%

Margaret O'Brien won every precinct in Kalamazoo Township, Alamo Township, and Parchment. She also won Oshtemo 6 and 7, Texas 6, and six precincts in central Portage. Larry DeShazor won most of Portage, Texas, and Oshtemo, plus Prairie Ronde. DeShazor did best in home precinct of Portage 18, plus Portage 5 and 10, also in southern Portage. Yardley did slightly better in Texas, Prairie Ronde, and Oshtemo than elsewhere.

In 2006, DeShazor won only six precincts in Portage, and one in Kalamazoo Township.

DeShazor gained more than 100 votes relative to 2006 in Oshtemo 3 (188), Portage 10 and 12, Kalamazoo 9, Prarie Ronde, and Texas 4. Margaret's biggest relative gain was 20 votes in Alamo 1.

In 2008, there were 76,804 registered voters in the 61st district, and 12,221 voted, for a turnout rate of 15.9%. Of those who voted, 8192, or 67%, voted in the Republican primary, while 2675, or 21.9%, voted in the democrat primary for Julie Rogers. Apparently, 1354 voters, or 11.1%, did not vote in this race. Many of these were probably democrats who saw no need to vote in an uncontested primary. Thus 10.7% of registered voters voted in the Republican primary.

In 2006, there were 73,026 registered voters in the 61st district, and 14,498 voted, for a turnout rate of 19.9%. Of those who voted, 8882, or 61.3%, voted in the Republican primary, while 3623, or 25%, voted in the democrat primary for Rogers. There were 1993 voters, or 13.7%, who did not vote in this race. Thus 12.2% of registered voters voted in the Republican primary.

In 2008, turnout varied by precinct from 25% in Alamo 1 and Oshtemo 3 to 5% in Portage 2 and Oshtemo 5. There was no clear correlation between turnout and support for a candidate. Margaret won high turnout precincts in Alamo, Texas 6, and Portage 9, while Larry won high turnout precincts in Oshtemo 3, Texas 2 and 5, and Portage 12 and 17. Meanwhile, Margaret won low turnout precincts in Kalamazoo 2 and 5, and Portage 2, while Larry won low turnout precincts in Oshtemo 5 and 8, and Portage 21.

So what explains the difference between 2006 and 2008?

Was it democrat crossover votes? We can reasonable assume that there were some, most likely more than Larry's 340 vote margin of victory. But there were also democrat crossovers in 2006, when Jack won big. The number of Julie Rogers voters, along with the presumably democratic nonvoters, declined from 2006 from to 2008 by about 1000 and 600 respectively. But the number of voters on the Republican side declined by 700 voters, making it unlikely that much larger numbers of democrats crossed over this time.

Further, if democrat crossovers were to blame, you would expect the most democrat precincts to have relatively large turnouts, and for Larry to win those precincts. But the more democrat precincts of Kalamazoo 2 and 5, Oshtemo 5 and 8, and Portage 1, 2, and 7 all had low turnout. Meanwhile, Margaret swept Kalamazoo Township, the most democrat part of the district, and also won Portage 1, 2, and 7, while Larry won Oshtemo 5 and 8. Larry also won heavily Republican areas in Texas and Prairie Ronde. It is theoretically possible that there were democrat crossovers concentrated in more suburban Republican precincts, but this is not supported by the available data.

Was David Yardley a spoiler? Probably not. While his voters probably would have gone more to Margaret than to Larry, it is unlikely that they would have gone at the more than 5:1 ratio she would have needed.

Was it the dirty trick flyer and robocall? Probably not. Democrats didn't vote in unusual numbers, and the flyer and robocall would not likely help Larry amongst Republicans.

So what did change from 2006 to 2008?

One big change was that in 2006, Jack had the Right to Life endorsement, while in 2008, RTL did not make an endorsement. Right to Life can swing a lot of votes in a Republican primary.

Another factor was that in 2006, Jack got the Farm Bureau endorsement, while in 2008 Larry got the endorsement. This probably explains much of the 104 vote swing toward Larry in Prairie Ronde.

Another factor was that in 2006, Jack was the incumbent and had good name recognition across the district. In 2008, Margaret wasn't nearly as well known, while Larry likely had somewhat greater name recognition from his 2006 run.

What did Margaret so well? She rounded up a lot of endorsements from local organizations and officials (more than Jack had in 2006). She did very well in yard sign placements, winning narrowly in Portage and having overwhelmingly more in the rest of the district. She also had significantly more letters to the editor in the Gazette. She also worked very hard at knocking on doors and talking to voters.

What did Larry do well? He managed to position himself carefully enough on the hot button issues of abortion and taxes that voters who weren't paying close attention (most of them) couldn't distinguish the candidates' positions. Larry also worked hard and knocked on lots of doors.

What didn't Margaret do well? She didn't do enough to distinguish herself from Larry on the issues. Her literature, aside from specialty pro-life pieces, was mostly about her involvement and accomplishments. That's nice, of course, but Larry had lots of that too. She also didn't use the endorsements that she got effectively. Her general literature had only Mary Balkema listed as an endorser. Her website listed her endorsements and discussed issues, but few voters read campaign websites.

Further, in an election where only 10.7% of registered voters voted in the Republican primary, the better strategy would be to target likely voters, not spend time at every house. Also, a program to remind identified supporters to get out the vote (generally through phone calls) was needed.

2008 Election Preview

Note: This preview is for the general election. The primary election preview is available here.

While most political coverage has focused on the 2008 presidential race, there will be many other races on the ballot. Here is an overview of the races relevant to Kalamazoo readers. More detailed profiles of some of the races are linked from this preview.
[List of all Michigan candidates.][List of local candidates] [List of all Kalamazoo County candidates here.]

Senator John McCain will be the Republican nominee. He will face many challenges in his bid for the White House. See his political profile and articles about him. The Democrat nominee will be Senator Barack Obama. Several third party candidates are running, including pastor Chuck Baldwin for the Constitution Party, former Congressman Bob Barr for the Libertarian Party, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, and independent Ralph Nader.

Republicans face many challenges in the battle for Congress. They face higher rates of retirements and more competitive seats in both the House and Senate. If Democrats win larger margins in Congress, they will be more able to pass their legislation.

President (Michigan)
Michigan leans slightly to the left in Presidential elections. This means that democrats need to win Michigan to win the White House, but Republicans don't. Michigan continues going through a recession during the sixth year of democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm. Will this help Republicans in the presidential race? Perhaps.

US Senate
Senator Carl Levin will seek yet another term in 2008. Levin has an extremely liberal record which the media has largely refused to report. Hence he is favored for reelection. Levin will face conservative State Representative Jack Hoogendyk.

US House of Representatives
All fifteen Michigan congressmen are seeking reelection. Most will be pretty safe, but a few will have hotly contested races.

1st District
Veteran democrat Congressman Bart Stupak will face conservative Republican State Representative Tom Casperson, who will try to make this race competitive after defeating two other Republicans in the primary.

6th District
Longtime Congressman Fred Upton will face very liberal Kalamazoo City Commissioner Don Cooney. Upton is strongly favored to win. Libertarian Greg Merle and Green Edward Pinckney are also running.

7th District
Freshman Republican Congressman Tim Walberg will face Democrat state senate minority leader Mark Schauer. The democratic establishment succeeded in pushing Schauer's significant primary competitors out of the race, and he defeated Sharon Renier in the primary. Walberg barely won against a weak democrat opponent in 2006, yet he still managed to win an open seat in a bad year for Republicans after a bitter primary with former Rep. Joe Schwarz. The Club for Growth will again provide support to Walberg.

9th District
Veteran Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg will face democrat former state senator Gary Peters. Peters has been a subject of controversy due to the very cushy position that he received at Central Michigan University, which is 122 miles away from the 9th district.

Michigan Supreme Court
Conservative Republican Michigan Supreme Court Justice Cliff Taylor will seek reelection. The democrat nominee is Wayne County judge Diane Hathaway. Michigan Supreme Court races for the last three cycles have been quiet, with incumbents winning easy victories. The last heavily contested races were in 2000, when the democrat campaign against Republican justices "Markman and Taylor and Young" failed to defeat them.

Education Boards
Seats on the Michigan Board of Education and University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University boards of trustees will be up for election. The candidates for these offices can be found on this list. Susan Brown, a Republican from Kalamazoo who lost a race for U of M board in 2006, is running again this election.

Ballot Proposals
Proposal 1: This would legalize the use and growth of marijuana for medical purposes.

Proposal 2: This would allow the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of stem cell research.

Michigan House of Representatives
All 110 seats in the Michigan state house will be up for election. Forty percent (44) of state reps will be term-limited, and all but one of the rest will seek reelection. The democrats currently have a four-seat majority. Republicans will target many of the democrats who won Republican seats in 2006, while democrats will target some of the Republicans who survived close races in 2006. The incompetence of the democrat leadership may hurt them in November.

In the greater Kalamazoo area...

59th District (St. Jospeh, Cass County)
Incumbent Republican Rick Shaffer will leave this safe district due to term limits. St. Joseph County Sheriff Matt Lori will be the Republican nominee after defeating two other Republicans in the primary. Carol Higgins will be the democrat nominee.

60th District (Kalamazoo)
Incumbent democrat Robert Jones will likely be safe against his Republican challenger, libertarian conservative Charles Ybema.

61st District (Portage, Oshtemo)
Conservative Republican Jack Hoogendyk will leave office due to term limits. Democrat Julie Rogers, who narrowly lost to Jack in 2006, will be the democrat nominee. Moderate Portage City Councilman Larry DeShazor will be the Republican nominee after defeating conservative Margaret O'Brien in the primary. This district leans Republican, but will be closely fought.

62nd District (Battle Creek, Albion)
Republican Mife Nofs will leave this competitive district due to term limits. Calhoun County Commissioner Gregory Moore defeated Battle Creek City Commissioner Susan Baldwin for the Republican nomination. County Commissioner Kate Segal defeated college graduate Tim Nendorf for the democrat nomination.

63rd District (Comstock, Marshall)
Maverick Republican Lorence Wenke will leave this district that leans Republican due to term limits. Calhoun County Commissioner Jase Bolger is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Former State Rep. Jerry VanderRoest withdrew from the race. Phyllis Smith, who lost the race for this seat in 2006 will again be the democrat nominee.

78th District (Southern Berrien County)
Republican Neal Nitz will leave this district due to term limits. Sharon Tyler won the Republican nomination over Bill Baber and two others thanks to a Right to Life endorsement. She will face democrat Judy Truesdell, who came close to winning in 2006, in this republican-leaning but competitive district.

88th District (Allegan County)
Conservative Republican Fulton Sheen will leave office due to term limits. Conservative Bob Genetski won the Republican nomination over Todd Boorsma and six others. Tom Clark will be the democrat nominee for this safe Republican seat.

Republican incumbents will run for reelection in districts 79 (northern Berrien County), 80 (VanBuren County), and 87 (Barry County).

Kalamazoo Countywide Offices

All six countywide offices are up for election. Republicans hold all six offices.

Sheriff: Republican Michael Anderson will seek reelection. He was easily renominated over challenger Ricky Coombs. Richard Fuller won the democrat nomination over Ray Roberts. Anderson is the favorite for reelection.

Prosecutor: Republican Jeff Fink will seek reelection. He will be challenged by democrat Robert Champion. Fink is the favorite for reelection.

Clerk: Republican Tim Snow will seek reelection. He will be challenged by democrat David Kinsey. Snow is the favorite for reelection.

Treasurer: Republican Mary Balkema will seek election after being appointed to replace Sharon Cubitt in 2007. Democrat Julie Kaufman will challenge Mary.

Drain Commissioner: Republican Pat Crouse will seek election after being appointed in 2008 to replace Bill French, who was convicted of a crime. He will be challenged by democrat Patricia Crowley.

Surveyor: Republican Bill Hahn is unopposed for this office. He will replace Republican Bob Snell, who is retiring. The position is unpaid, and its holder must be a licenced surveyor.

8th District Judge
There is one open judicial race in Kalamazoo County, and hence one contested race. Candidates Julie Phillips and Bill Murphy will move on to the general election after Jeff Gagie and Sondra Nowak were eliminated in the primary for this nonpartisan position. Phillips is a Republican and Murphy is an independent.

Transportation Tax Proposal
The Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority put a proposal on the ballot that would raise taxes on most of the county to fund an expansion of the county bus system. The proposal would cost .86 mills by 2011, more than double the .38 mills for all of Kalamazoo County outside Kalamazoo City at present.

Kalamazoo County Commission

Democrats currently have a 9-8 majority on the commission. Republicans will target the districts they lost in 2006, while democrats could target districts that they narrowly failed to win in 2006 in Portage and the southeastern part of the county. Republicans did not file candidates for four county commission seats, and democrats did not file for one seat.

District 10: Thomas Drabik is retiring. Former Portage Mayor James Graham is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Democrat Michael Quinn, who narrowly lost to Drabik in 2006, will again be the democrat nominee.

District 12: Democrat John Nieuwenhuis won this seat from Republican Bob Brink in 2006. Republicans Chris Haenicke won the Republican nomination over Scott Zondervan. Haenicke is the son-in-law of former WMU President Diether Haenicke.

District 15: Democrat Leroy Crabtree won this seat from Republican Joe VanBruggen in 2006. Republicans Ann Nieuwenhius will be the Republican nominee.

Township Elections
There are a few contested township elections, while most of the rest have only Republicans running.

Comstock Township: Controversial Trustee Bill Shields was recalled while also being renominated as a Republican. Incumbent democrat Supervisor Tim Hudson easily defeated two primary challengers and will face Republican Sue Fritz. Four Republicans face three democrats in the trustee races.

Kalamazoo Township: Justin VanderArk won the Republican nomination for supervisor by a significant margin over several others. VanderArk is a conservative who works for the area homebuilders association. The democrat nominee will be Terri Mellinger. Three Republicans face four democrats in the trustee races.

Oshtemo Township: Incumbent Republican Supervisor John VanDyke is not running for reelection. Former County Commissioner Bob Brink, won the Republican nomination over Charles Hill. The democrat nominee will be Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell. Four incumbent Republicans will face two democrats for four trustee positions.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Election Results

In the 61st district, Larry DeShazor won by 340 votes. He had 49% to Margaret O'Brien's 45% and David Yardley's 6%. He will face democrat Julie Rogers in November. More detailed analysis of this race will follow.

District 88: Conservative Bob Genetski beat fellow conservative Todd Boorsma by 70 votes. Both had 25%, and were followed by conservative Josh Leatherman's 20%, and moderate Shelley Edgerton's 13%. Four others had less than 10% each. Genetski will be safe in November.

District 58: Ken Kurtz appears to have won with 34% over Don Shemel with 335 and two others.

District 59: Matt Lori won an easy victory with 54% over two opponents. He will be safe in November.

District 62: Greg Moore won with 64% over Susan Baldwin. He will face democrat Kate Segal, who won with 68% over Tim Nendorf.

District 78: Sharon Tyler, who got the Right to Life endorsement, won with 41% over Bill Baber with 36% and two others.

8th District Judge: Bill Murphy and Julie Phillips will move on to the general election. Murphy had 34%, Phillips had 29%, Jeff Gagie had 21%, and Sondra Nowak had 16%. Murphy and Phillips, the two more conservative candidates, definitely benefited from higher turnout of Republicans. Gagie was hurt by controversy over retracted abuse allegations during his divorce. Nowak wasn't helped by an endorsement by liberal former state rep. and judge Alexander Lipsey.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff: Republican Michael Anderson was easily renominated with 80%. He will face democrat Richard Fuller in November.

County commission: In district 6, democrat Franklin Thompson again defeated challenger Larry Stieglitz by more than 2:1. In district 12, Chris Haenicke beat Scott Zondervan. In district 15, Ann Niewenhuis defeated Derek Robinson, who had dropped out. Districts 12 and 15 will be closely contested in November, as Republicans seek to oust democrats who defeated Republican incumbents in 2006.

Kalamazoo Township Supervisor: Justin VanderArk defeated his opponents by a significant margin. He will face a very tough fight in November. Justin touted his conservative credentials during his campiagn.

Texas Township Supervisor: Dave Healy won this race by a significant margin over incumbent Ron Commassaris. He is unopposed in November.

Oshtemo Township Supervisor: Bob Brink defeated Charles Hill in this race. Brink had more name recognition and more yard signs. He evidently was not hurt much by past support for a "gay-rights" ordinance which was made an issue by a conservative family values group.

Comstock Township: Trustee Bill Shields was recalled while also being renominated as a Republican. Democrat Supervisor Tim Hudson was easily renominated and will face Republican Sue Fritz in the fall.

In Van Buren County, Larry DeShazor's campaign manager Jef Walls lost his bid for county commission.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Election Day

Today, Tuesday August 5 is election day. Make sure to vote.

After the polls close, you can find election results at our Election Results links.

Monday, August 04, 2008

61st District Updates

More dirty tricks. A robocall was made to some 61st district residents asking "liberal voters" to support Larry DeShazor in the Republican primary. The call cited DeShazor's 2006 challenge to Jack Hoogendyk, his alleged willingness to raise taxes, and his opposition to making English the official language of Michigan. The call did not have the required "paid for by..." message and it is unclear who is responsible for it. It is also unclear whether liberal or conservative voters were the intended audience. DeShazor has blamed unnamed "special interests" for the calls.

Larry DeShazor, Republican candidate for 61st District of Michigan House, decries campaign calls

Candidates campaign 3 days before primary

In Portage, Larry DeShazor and Margaret O'Brien, Republican contenders for the 61st District state House seat, both embarked early Saturday on what they both expected would be a 12-hour day of going door-to-door. David Yardley, the other Republican candidate, had his phone banks working at a feverish pace.

"As a candidate, I think you feel more urgency today than any other previous Saturdays,'' said Yardley, who was apologetic about a botched test of an automatic-calling system that inadvertently caused about 40 residences to get calls between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Saturday
Does Larry DeShazor support the RMGN court-hacking scheme?

WMUK News: Election Coverage

The "Reform Michigan Government Now" plan would make 30 changes in the state constitution. It would reduce the number of seats in both the House and the Senate and eliminate the jobs of some state Supreme Court justices and Appeals Court judges. It would also cut the pay of most elected state officials. That idea may play well with voters but O’Brien says the overall proposal is still a bad idea. She says it would limit representation in Lansing.

Yardley also opposes the "Reform Michigan Government Now" plan. He says some parts of the proposal are good, such as reducing the number of state government departments. But Yardley says the ballot question is far too complex.

Whether or not the proposal will actually appear on the November ballot is still unclear since opponents are expected to challenge it in court. But DeShazor says he supports the plan because it would reduce the size of the legislature.

Some Republicans and other critics say the "Reform Michigan Government Now" proposal is nothing more than a "Democratic power grab". That’s because the judges who’d lose their jobs are all in the GOP. But DeShazor says the proposal reflects the public’s deep dissatisfaction with the way business is done in Lansing.

Other news:

Dave Healy...the next Fidel Castro!

So says Sue Commissaris. (See the letter second to the bottom.)

Lots of Endorsements

Many groups in Michigan are making endorsements or posting surveys ahead of the August 5 primary.

Right to Life of Michigan

Citizens for Traditional Values

Michigan Taxpayers Alliance

Shooters Alliance for Firearm Rights

Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Association of Michigan

In the 61st district state house race, all three candidates satisfied the Right to Life criteria. Margaret O'Brien and David Yardley were endorsed by CTV. Only Margaret filled out the MTA survey. SAFR rates Margaret and Yardley's survey and statements as acceptable, while Larry DeShazor did not fill out a survey. The Chamber of Commerce did not issue and endorsement, and SBAM found all three candidates acceptable.

The Gazette endorsed Larry DeShazor, Shelly Edgerton, and Rob Sisson for local state house seats because they are moderates. Conservatives would be advised to vote otherwise.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Mystery Deepens!

The Gazette ran an article on the distinctions between the candidates in the 61st district.

Distinctions among candidates emerge in Republican race for 61st state House District

O'Brien, 34, a real-estate agent and Portage City Council member, and Yardley, 44, a self-employed campaign consultant, say they are conservatives. DeShazor, 49, a Portage city councilman and team leader at State Farm Insurance, says he shuns being categorized.

His campaign coordinator, Jef Walls, said DeShazor has broad appeal -- attracting conservatives for his position on abortion and taxes, for instance, but also moderates and independents because he is "willing to listen.''

"Larry is for less taxes,'' Walls said. "He has publicly been supportive of that. He's 100 percent pro-life. What else do you need to be conservative? If he has the ability to reach across the aisle ... (to) independents and Democrats, does that make him a moderate? I guess so,'' Walls said.
Got that?

Gilmer, who also spent 22 years in the Michigan Legislature, said his support goes to DeShazor because the councilman is not staunchly anti-tax and is open to others' ideas.

"Margaret O'Brien is a nice person, but at the same time, she is trying to present herself as a reincarnation of Jack Hoogendyk. If you like Jack, you'll love Margaret,'' said Gilmer, who contributed $200 to DeShazor's campaign.

Gilmer said higher education, the K-12 school systems and Michigan roads have been victims of a years long unwillingness to increase taxes, despite the hurt he feels it has caused the state.

"I think Larry will listen,'' Gilmer said. "He'll consider all sides of the issue and ultimately make a decision as opposed to the knee jerk, `The answer is no.'''
And more...

Walls said that one understanding of the pledge is that it calls for candidates to shun any tax increase. But Walls said DeShazor is of the mind that if Michigan reduces the size of the government, there would be no need to raise taxes.
One understanding? Of the mind?

DeShazor said he takes a balanced approach in the midst of extremes, where on one side of the continuum "the only thing they want to hear is low and no taxes, on the other side they don't mind paying more taxes if they can get more.

"You have to strike the balance and figure out what is really necessary,'' DeShazor said.
That should clear things up.

Local Election News

Distinctions among candidates emerge in Republican race for 61st state House District

Family values group targets Oshtemo Republican -- again

Two-man race for prosecuting attorney
Fired assistant wants to replace former boss in St. Joseph County

Appointed incumbent faces challenge in race for Richland Township supervisor

Three run for judge in Cass County

Republican drops out of county-board race

Two republicans face off in primary for 15th District seat on county Board of Commissioners

Comstock Twp. board: 12 enter the fray

Three vie for GOP nod in 59th District