DC Based DLCC to Make Significant Play for MI Senate, House
"I think about Michigan every damn day, and you can quote me on that," DLCC President Jessica Post told reporters during a Friday morning virtual press conference. "Michigan is at the top of our target list. We’re very interested in flipping both chambers in Michigan."
This week the DLCC named both legislative chambers in Michigan as ones it is targeting this election cycle to flip to Democratic control.
Ms. Post called Michigan "a huge battleground" given the state’s mostly dormant 1931 abortion ban on the books that could soon come back into effect given the recent leak of a draft opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court that showed Roe v. Wade is expected to be overturned by the high court’s conservative majority.
"I think we need to do everything we can to secure a Dem trifecta," Ms. Post said. "It’s a huge battleground around, as you know, because of your 1930s pre-Roe abortion ban and so that is going to be a key issue in the state."
Republicans hold a 22-16 majority in the Senate and have controlled the chamber since 1984.
In the House, four special elections to fill vacancies were held this week. The Democrats scored an upset win in a strongly Republican district over a far-right candidate who had made comments about rape and propagated various conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 presidential election and the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Once the new members are seated, the Democrats will have gained one seat, narrowing the GOP majority to 57-53.
With redistricting, control of the Senate could be up for grabs for the first time in decades. The House still, on paper, has more of a Republican lean. Given that there is the expectation of it being a strong GOP year nationally, Democrats have an even harder task of holding their ground along with hopes of making gains.
Ms. Post acknowledged the uphill climb given the built-in fundraising advantage for Republicans in both Michigan chambers.
Through the most recent campaign fundraising period, Senate Republicans had $6.21 million cash on hand to Senate Democrats’ $2.17 million cash on hand. House Republicans reported having $4.2 million cash on hand to the $2.2 million cash on hand for House Democrats.
"We know that we will need to spend heavily in the state to undo that entrenchment around Lansing," Ms. Post said.
The DLCC has already provided funds to the Democrats’ caucuses and plans to put more resources into the state. The group will also help fundraise for individual candidates, provide staff and digital advertising supports along with other assistance.
Ms. Post said a strategy of what races to target was still being finalized, but she did name Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) as one candidate they are looking closely at for support in the 4th Senate District. The district is competitive on paper with a slight Democratic lean.
It is one of 10 races rated either as a tossup or with a Democratic or Republican tilt that likely will determine control of the Senate in November.
Is Speaker Maddock A Possibility?; Can DePerno Unite MIGOP?
Mostly, Mr. Hall said, that’s because it’s just not possible.
"I don’t think that Matt Maddock has a chance to become speaker of the next House because of the vote counts and where the votes are at," Mr. Hall (R-Comstock Township) said. "I’ve looked at the math – and I know where the commitments are – and it’s not possible."
Currently in the running to lead the House Republicans is Mr. Hall and Mr. Maddock (R-Milford), though this has been complicated slightly by virtue of Mr. Maddock being removed from the House Republican Caucus late last month. This was due to an alleged violation of caucus confidentiality rules. Sources speaking on background also noted his support for candidates challenging incumbents also did not help.
Mr. Hall appeared on Michigan Public Television’s "Off the Record" Friday and discussed various topics including the House Republican leadership race, a potential schism within the party between traditional and further-right candidates running in the 2022 elections at both the state and local level, and the future of abortion in Michigan should Roe v. Wade fall as expected.
Regarding Mr. Maddock, however, Mr. Hall said the man had alienated himself from others in the caucus and would need to work to rebuild relationships with members "so that he can be an effective legislator in the future." Mr. Hall was also tightlipped when prodded on what exactly led to Mr. Maddock being booted from the group, simply reiterating what a spokesperson for House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) had said when asked similar questions in April.
But when speaking to the idea that some were incited to kick Mr. Maddock from the caucus because of his involvement in various House races, some of which are against incumbent Republicans, Mr. Hall was quick to clarify that this was not an issue of "Trump versus non-Trump candidates."
"When you look at candidates like Greg VanWoerkom and Andrew Fink, these are candidates who voted for tax cuts. They support President Trump. They have conservative voting records," Mr. Hall said. "And so, I think there’ll be formidable candidates in these primaries running against other candidates that are endorsed by President Trump."
Both Rep. Greg VanWoerkom of Norton Shores and Rep. Andrew Fink of Hillsdale are seeing Maddock-backed candidates attempting to primary them as Mr. VanWoerkom runs for reelection in the 88th House District while Mr. Fink does so in the 35th House District. Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton is seeing a primary challenger in the 49th House District that is supported by Mr. Maddock, as well.
Mr. Hall said it was important to not get bogged down on a Trump versus anti-Trump concept when considering these primaries as "truth is, most Republicans support President Trump" and the candidates likely have very similar core values like protecting Constitutional rights, cutting spending and improving the economy.
He further bucked the idea that the caucus’ majority could in any way be endangered because of those issues or extreme candidates running such as Republican Robert Regan – a candidate in the new 84th House District who recently lost a special election in a very red 74th House District largely due to his delusional and bigoted views.
Mr. Hall panned Mr. Regan in particular as being an "isolated incident," saying: "I think the voters of his communities – when they’re evaluating who to nominate for the Republican nomination – will see that he lost a safe Republican seat, and they’ll probably look to one of the other candidates in that race."
He also brushed off the idea that the Michigan Republican Party is in turmoil following last month’s convention that ended with Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo receiving the MIGOP’s endorsement for attorney general and secretary of state, respectively (See Gongwer Michigan Report, April 23, 2022).
Mr. Hall pointed to the fact that when former Attorney General Bill Schuette won the nomination over then-Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop in 2010, there was heavy division in the party between tea party activists and hardline Republicans. Likening it to today’s problems, Mr. Hall then said Mr. Schuette was only given three months before the November 2010 elections to mount a concise campaign and get all parts of the party to back him.
Mr. DePerno, he added, by contrast "has the time to put the party together and win in November." Mr. Hall also indicated that he is supportive of Mr. DePerno’s attorney general campaign.
And while he mounted an offensive on prospects in the 2022 elections, what Mr. Hall was less concise on was the future of abortion in Michigan should Roe fall.
On Monday, Politico published a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft document written by Justice Samuel Alito which would strike down the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide. This would leave Michigan to revert to a nearly 100-year-old law on the topic which makes abortion for any reason a felony unless it is to save the life of the mother. However, wording within the law is ambiguous, leading many to question where or when that line could be drawn.
Attorney General Dana Nessel has also already pledged to not enforce the ban should Roe indeed be struck down.
When asked if he felt the 1931 statute (which dates to 1846) should be altered in any way, Mr. Hall said that it was unenforceable under current law as Roe was still in effect, noting: "We’re going to have to see what the new Supreme Court decision says."
Even after acknowledging that authenticity of the leaked draft has been confirmed, Mr. Hall still would not budge on the topic, emphasizing that nothing related to Roe being struck down had been set in stone.
Telemed Abortion Ban Introduced As Dems Slam GOP on Roe
The move comes in the wake of a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision finding a constitutional right to abortion. Michigan is one of several states that would immediately have an abortion ban on the books if the final ruling from the court does indeed strike down Roe.
Democrats have spent the week slamming Republicans on abortion. In the Legislature, Republicans added anti-abortion language in both budgets along with the introduction of Ms. Hornberger’s bill this week
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said Friday the probability of Roe being overturned has motivated Democrats.
"Having read those words has energized folks," she said. "I believe it will be a factor in elections."
Legislative Republicans have pushed for similar bans in the past. In 2012, Mr. Snyder signed a bill creating a six-year ban on telemedicine for abortion medication, as it was slipped into another bill regulating clinics.
In 2018, the Republican-led Legislature sent the governor a bill that would remove the sunset that ended the prohibition that year. He vetoed it.
"On a daily basis, our health care professionals thoughtfully and deliberately determine when any health care delivery method is safe, including telemedicine for other areas of care. Telemedicine for medical abortion should not be any different," Mr. Snyder said in his veto message in 2018. "Objective research shows that medical abortions are safe and that a virtual consultation with a physician is as effective as in-person consultation with a physician."
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, of course, would not sign the new bill, HB 6069 , if it were to make it to her desk.
Right to Life of Michigan said in a statement supporting Ms. Hornberger’s bill that if Roe is indeed overturned, abortion medications would be illegal under Michigan law. It also pointed out abortion medications can now be sent via mail.
"Telemedicine abortion in combination with mail-order abortion pills opens the door for increased numbers of coerced abortions from abusive relationships or sex traffickers," Barbara Listing, the group’s president, said in a statement. "Mail order pills could make it easier for an abuser to obtain abortion pills through the mail to be unwittingly forced upon his/her victim."
Dr. Amy Marcotte, a OBGYN appearing at a press conference with the Michigan Democratic Party on Friday, said studies show telemedicine to get medical abortions is safe and allows pregnant people to be more comfortable at home.
"I imagine when we have limited access in the rule setting that that will become a vital component in providing abortion care," she said.
However, she was not sure if it would be legal if they were sent from out of state.
"I don’t know the legal components of receiving the medication from another state," she said. "I do know that that is done."
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