Detroit News EditorNolan Finley at November ERC Forum in Grosse Pointe Woods
Finley Sees No National Mandate
In Analysis of November Poll Results
“This was not a wave election -- there were mixed results,” said Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley.
He noted, for example, that Republicans picked up 30 of the 50 state houses.
Finley spoke November 20 to the Eastside Republicans at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
In Michigan, he reminded, “Voters defeated union proposals up and down the ballot… and voters did a wonderful job on the Supreme Court.”
At the federal level, “Voters did not give [the President] the votes in Congress to get his agenda passed. Voters returned a Republican House.”
Being realistic, he observed, “It is extraordinarily hard to beat an incumbent.”
Finley encouraged his audience, “In 2010, just two years ago, Republicans swept the landscape. Do we really believe that things have so fundamentally changed in two years, and Republicans are no longer relevant?”
Who's to Blame?
Finley, who supported the 2012 GOP ticket, said, “It is easy to attack our candidate, but not for anything he did.”
Think about the other side. “Joe Biden was a rolling disaster,” not widely scrutinized. At the same time, Finley reported, “The national media put Romney on the defensive.”
What Happened?
In the final analysis, Finley recognized a GOP weakness. “We got beat on the ground,” he opined.
He said that the election outcome “was not an affirmation of [Obama's] last four years.”
Finley believes the key to winning on the ground is voter enthusiasm.
He acknowledged the GOP enthusiasm, saying, “It's not enough to have an opponent your people are excited to vote against. You have to have a candidate your supporters are excited about voting for!”
Now What?
Looking to the future, Finley said, “We need to sell our economic message better.”
As an example, he said, “We've got a message that should sell very well to Hispanic voters. The Party needs to do better on the ground.”
Finley said, “I've been amazed at all the advice from people who would never vote Republican, yet offer their advice of what the Republicans Party should do!”
Putting in perspective the GOP presidential defeat, Finley said, “Not only have we been here before, but also so have the Democrats.”
He cited the Clinton/Dole race and the 2006 Granholm/Posthumous contest for Michigan governor as recent GOP setbacks.
As for Democrat trips to the woodshed, he said, “After Kerry lost to Bush in 2000, did the Democrats change? No. They came back with an even more liberal candidate in 2008.”
He noted, “Democrats play to their strength rather than change their message.”
Finley's Role as Opinion Maker
Finley's views on the Michigan political landscape echoed his recent print editorials and comments on his PBS television show, “Am I Right, or Am I Right?” where he debates issues with Debbie Dingell. Finley also discusses politics with Free Press counterpart Stephen Henderson on PBS's Friday night “MiWeek.”
The televised half-hour editions provide rapid-fire commentary from conservative and liberal perspectives on politics, current events, and pop culture. Weekly episodes examine issues such as public school funding, taxes, crime, politics, and business development.
The popular columnist is a frequent panel member of Devin Scillian's channel 4 “Flashpoint.”
At the newspaper, Finley directs the expression of editorial position on various national and local issues, and writes a column in the Sunday newspaper. Prior to that, Finley was the newspaper's deputy managing editor, directing the newsroom.
The journalist previously served as Detroit News business editor, and in various editing positions on the paper's city, state and metro desks. He was also a reporter, covering Detroit City Hall during the Coleman Young administration.
Finley has been with The Detroit News since 1976, starting as a copyboy in the newsroom while a student at Wayne State University. He is a graduate of both Schoolcraft College in Livonia and Wayne State, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in journalism. In 2001, Schoolcraft named him its outstanding alumnus.
He is a native of Cumberland County, Kentucky.
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.
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