What I do know is this. The Democrats are in disarray. Many expect them to lose the governor’s race, and, perhaps, everything else in sight. Last week State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, who had been running for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General for the last year, pulled out, saying she suddenly discovered she wanted to spend more time with her children.
I do not know Senator Whitmer well and would not accuse her of dishonesty, but in my experience, that’s not the sort of thing politicians do who think they are likely to win in November.
This threw Democrats into further disarray. The senator was an extremely attractive candidate and, many party leaders felt, their best chance to take back the office they lost eight years ago.
However, never say never. Things can change; Michigan has experienced historic upsets before, and it’s a long, long way from January to November. But if Democrats are going to have any chance of retaining the governorship, they need a candidate.
Right now, they have only a single officially declared one: State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith. She has a lot of legislative experience in both the house and senate, and has a gutsy plan to raise revenues and balance the state budget in a responsible way.
Plus, she has a compelling personal story. However, she has almost no name recognition outside of Washtenaw County, and hasn’t been able to raise a lot of money. Smith would also turn seventy a few months into her first term. So, Democrats are scrambling to find more candidates.
The logical front-runner is Speaker of the House Andy Dillon. He is handsome, charismatic, but has two drawbacks. One is that he is tied, just by virtue of what he does, to the mess in Lansing. Never mind that he has proposed some intelligent solutions.
He is also mildly anti-abortion, something that makes him unacceptable to some Democrats, just as being pro-choice makes some candidates unacceptable in the Republican party.
I wonder if it ever occurs to these people that the governor of Michigan has no ability whatsoever to change Roe vs. Wade.
In any event, many Democrats are looking for a savior to ride to their rescue. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is offering himself, but the response has been restrained. Now, there is a move to draft Denise Ilitch, of the famous pizza-and-sports-team owning family. She is smart, attractive and well-educated.
Plus, she is rich and might be able to finance her own campaign. There’s a slight problem, however. Ilitch has no experience in government. Michigan currently has a governor who, everyone agrees, has been ineffective partly because she had little prior governing experience. Denise Ilitch has even less.
If I have a major operation, I don’t want to be my surgeon’s first patient. A lot of people have the peculiar idea that the problems of governing are best tackled by those who don’t know anything about it.
That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.