Analyst and commentator Bill Ballenger makes a pointe at the October 16 Forum at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial
Bill Ballenger calls GOP's redistricting a 'travesty' for Pointes
Three Supreme Court Races
Top Priority for 'Control' in Lansing
“You are real political junkies,” analyst Bill Ballenger told the Eastside Republican Forum October 16 at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
He commended the crowd for their interest in civic affairs, despite baseball's Tigers v. Yankees game and the second presidential debate set for later in the evening.
These “junkies” got an earful of sage insight from one of Michigan's most respected political gurus.
Commenting on Michigan's jumbo two-page ballot, he observed, “It's the longest ballot of any state in the U.S.”
Ballenger pointed out that November 6 voters are facing choices for every office, except for the Michigan senate and state constitutional offices.
By that, he meant that Governor Snyder is not up, and no seats in the Michigan Senate are on the ballot this time. State constitutional offices not on the ballot also include Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.
Analyst and commentator Bill Ballenger with Cindy Pangborn and Bill Denner on Oct. 16 at the War Memorial
Analyst and commentator Bill Ballenger talks with audience members after Forum on Oct. 16 at the War Memorial
“Today, Republicans control everything in Lansing,” he said.
Battle for Supreme Court
That's why Ballenger sees the Michigan Supreme Court as a key battleground. He said the three Supreme Court seats are “almost the biggest thing” at stake. Because three of seven justices are up for election, including two Republicans.
Though they are non-partisan positions for the Supreme Court, Republicans are supporting Justice Stephen Markman (incumbent), Justice Brian Zahra (incumbent, partial term), and Judge Colleen O'Brien. >>ERC endorsements.
He pointed out that failure to elect these three could tip the balance from a conservative to a liberal court.
Due to a population loss, Ballenger said, “For the first time in Michigan history, Michigan will have just 14 U.S. representatives in Congress.”
Longest Ballot by Far
All 110 seats in the state house are on the ballot. Republicans, 64 to 46, now dominate it, leaving Democrats needing to pick up 10 seats for control.
Ballenger noted that considering the GOP picked up 20 seats just two years ago, Republicans should be able to continue to control the State House.
Outside Lansing, things are different. On the four state education boards, Democrats are now in firm control.
Ballooning the ballot are 233 judgeships, in addition to the three Supreme Court seats to be decided.
All countywide officials are on the ballot, and this totals 622 statewide, he noted.
For Ballenger, statistics are always on the tip of his tongue. He pointed out that all 1,242 Michigan townships would elect over 5,000 officials.
Also on the even-numbered-year November ballot for the first time in history are races for local school boards. He said that statewide there are at least 1,052 of these.
“This totals nearly 10,000 officials to be elected on November 6.”
Congress and the White House
From Ballenger's vantage point, “As of now, Obama still holds an edge in Michigan, but it could be like 1980.” He said that's when Ronald Reagan won in a national landslide beating President Carter.
See Your November
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The Michigan Voter Information Center provides an assortment of information related to voter registration and election administration in Michigan, including an advanced look at a sample of your local ballot. >>Use one of two search options for registration information or to view a sample ballot.
“Romney hasn't spent time in Michigan like many had hoped,” Ballenger reported.
Opining on the U.S. Senate race, he said, “It hasn't been good for Pete Hoekstra.”
“Debbie Stabenow has more money than Hoekstra, and she's favored to win.”
Ballenger believes Republicans will continue to hold an advantage in Michigan's U.S. House delegation, where they currently hold a nine to six edge.
Redistricting a 'travesty' for Pointes
Ballenger bluntly told the audience, “The GOP threw Grosse Pointe 'under the bus' by splitting the Pointes.” As a result, the area is split between two Michigan House districts. >>See Points Divided.
Noting that the united Pointes have been a bastion of the GOP since the party was founded, he kept hammering, “Too bad the Republicans [in Lansing] have not seen fit to keep the district together.”
Echoing the sentiment of his audience, he added that splitting the Pointes into two districts was “a travesty.”
Pointing fingers, he said, “The news media was so asleep” during the primary, looking the other way while a felon won the Democratic nomination for state representative in District 1.
Consequently, straight ticket Democratic voting in the new district will be hard for the Republican candidate to overcome.
Ballot Proposals
Finally, there are six statewide proposals, five of them dealing with our constitution. >>ERC endorsements.
“Our constitution is being bought by special interests,” Ballenger noted.
Changing it has been so easy, that it has grown by 50% since adoption in 1962.
The Sage of Lansing
Involved in Michigan political circles for over three decades, Ballenger is a recognized authority on Michigan government and politics. Launched in 1987, his Inside Michigan Politics newsletter is considered must-read material for Michigan's business and political leaders, and he is a regular commentator and political analyst for broadcast outlets in Detroit and Lansing.
As a commentator, Ballenger is a prolific writer and analyst of the Michigan political landscape. Yet over the years, Ballenger, himself, has been the subject of stories. In one such story, the Detroit News dubbed him "Michigan's undisputed Crown Prince of Pundits."
Born in Flint, Michigan, Ballenger is a former state representative, state senator, state racing commissioner, and director of the Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulation. Ballenger also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare in the administration of President Gerald R. Ford.
Ballenger holds a B.A. degree magna cum laude from Princeton University, and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. As a visiting Adjunct Professor, he has taught at the University of Michigan/Flint; in both Lyman Briggs and Justin Morrill Colleges at Michigan State University; and in the public administration program of Western Michigan University.
The Eastside Republican Club Forum is normally held on the third Tuesday of the month from September through June. Admission is free and the public is always welcome.
For more information about the Eastside Republican Club and its meetings, contact chairman Jenny Nolan at 530-0041.
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