Whitmer has a Detroit problem

Somebody asked a great question the other day: “What’s the secret to successful politics?”

You don’t need a study commission to labor for six months to find that answer, ’cause it’s just one word: Relationships.


Plain and simple, if the players in the game have a good working and trusty relationship with each other, it doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements or even some anger from time to time, but, over time, it does mean you can get stuff done, which is what the citizens want.

Governors, in particular, have a heavy lift when it comes to relationships, because everyone else in the game wants to have a good one with him or her. But, frankly, there are not enough hours in the day for any governor to meet and greet everyone who wants a piece of their limited time, and, in the story that follows, we see a perfect example of the conundrums that can create for the chief executive.

First, a little history:

When candidate Gretchen Whitmer was running for governor, one of the subplots that reporters watched was her alleged “problems” with some voters in Detroit. Remember that she’s a Democrat, and the vote in Detroit was supposed to be a slam dunk. Just like it was supposed to be a slam dunk for another Democrat, Gov. James Blanchard, who ended up losing part of his base in Motown and challenger John Engler beat the incumbent as a result.

Gov. Whitmer put the story to rest when she handily took care of her challenger, Bill Schuette, in the Big D on Election Day 2018.

End of story.

Ah, but now that she enters into her own reelection, the story is on the radar again.

This time thanks to the Democratic chairwoman of the Detroit legislative caucus, who blurted out the other day, “There are people who are 100% happy with what she is doing and there are some Detroiters who are not so happy.”

But state Rep. Tenisha Yancey did not stop there, although it’s a pretty good bet that the Whitmer team wishes she had.

The Detroit vote is again critical to the governor’s reelection bid, and Whitmer needs the strongest showing possible to give her a vote cushion when her Republican opponent does better than her in some outstate polling places, namely Up North.

And, with an African American former Detroit police chief running against her, the city will be more competitive than it was with Mr. Schuette.

So, when given a chance to boost the governor’s stock in Detroit, Rep. Yancey instead said, “There is nothing that I can say negative about him (James Craig) and his run for governor.”

Did you hear that thud in the guv’s inner circle?

And here comes another one aimed at the very heart of the relationship issue.

“I have a great relationship with Chief Craig,” Yancey said. “I know that I can pick up the phone and call the chief and he is going to answer right now, and he’s responsive to the needs that I have” as a state lawmaker with part of Detroit in her district.

And, then, the kicker:

“Do you have a great relationship with the governor, as you do with the chief?”

“Actually, I don’t,” Yancey reveals without pausing even for a moment to think about the political implications of that.

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, she adds, “So, I can’t say that I have that equal of a relationship with the governor right now,” although she did say earlier that she did have a great working relationship with the governor “when there are things that I agree with the governor on. I absolutely do.”

So, given all that, will she campaign for Mr. Craig?

“By no means am I saying that I’m Republican or that I will vote for a Republican,” Yancey answered. “I will not campaign for Chief Craig … but, if he were to become governor and if he does as good of a job as governor that he is doing as chief of police, I don’t have anything negative to say. I apologize, but I don’t.”

One could argue that that is only one Democrat in a huge city, so no big deal.

But that could change if the Republicans air some anti-Whitmer commercials featuring some of these juicy quotes from the Democratic chair of the Detroit legislative caucus.

They wouldn’t do that, would they?

In a Detroit minute.


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