April 19: t-minus one year

Today is one year Tuesday, April 19, 2016: the filing deadline for the 2016 election cycle for many elected offices in Michigan.

From trustee of the smallest township, to a seat in the US Congress, thousands of positions will be potentially up for grabs.

Even in my hometown – one of the most rural places in the state – you can just catch early rumbles of folks eager for a change, and folks already in elected office who are wondering what challengers lay ahead.

Who’s thinking about the future in your hometown?

Here’s a few items that interest me in the next year:

  • Who’s running for Congress for the UP and Northern Michigan? Will Dr. Dan face another primary challenge in the First Congressional District?  Has anyone heard from Jason Allen?  Who will run for the Dems?  Dan can be beat by the right Democrat riding the coattails of a presidential race in Michigan.
  • Who’s going to run against Lee Chatfield? He seems to be quite visible in the Michigan nnnth district (Eastern UP and just below the Mighty Mac).  Will anyone from ‘the establishment’ in the GOP take on Chatfield after Lee took out local wunderkind Frank Foster in 2014?
  • What’s Brian Calley doing? Is the ‘LG’ going to run against the Schutte juggernaut in 2018 for governor?  If so, he should be spending time (a lot of time) on the road working the county parties this next year…time  seems to be running out.  Schutte reminds me of Hillary Clinton locking up the nomination by acclimation…which might be the first time those two words have appeared in the same sentence!

Stay tuned!


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Not enough Irish on Michigan’s Supreme Court? Updated.

Should Gaelic be an optional course in law school?

For years, political commentator Jack Lessenberry kidded about lawyers with Irish sounding names ending up on the Michigan Supreme Court.

…maybe he wasn’t kidding? Heck, he’s right!

There have been 32 justices who have joined the court in the past 56 years (since 1958).  A quick review finds many names that hark of the Emerald Isle:

  1. Boyle
  2. Brennan
  3. Coleman
  4. Corrigan
  5. Fitzgerald
  6. Griffin
  7. Hathaway
  8. Kelly (Marilyn)
  9. Kelly (Mary Beth)
  10. McCormack (just elected November 2012!)
  11. Moody
  12. O’Hara
  13. Riley
  14. Ryan
  15. Weaver

And saving the best for last (and out of order), is Kavanagh/Cavanagh, at least one of whom has been on the court continuously since 1958 thanks to three different justices.

Michael Cavanagh came to the high court in 1982, and is still there today.  He joined a court that already had a Thomas G. Kavanaugh (1969-1984).  That middle initial is important because Thomas M. Kavanaugh (1958-1975) overlapped with Thomas G. for six years!

The fourteen judges above with the C/Kavanagh trio brings the list up to 18 – more than half the justices!  Compare that with the fact that just under eleven percent of Michiganders claim Irish heritage.  Clearly, the Irish are doing well.

Keep in mind – even though our state’s supreme court justices run in an officially nonpartisan election, they are nominated by the political parties to get on the ballot in the first place.

So, it’s not the whims of a primary process that culls out candidates.  It’s not an accident that so many people with one particular kind of ethnic name keeps getting chosen by the parties to run for the court – there’s been (and still is!) an intentional, multi-generational approach by both parties to pick folks with Irish sounding names.

To close, truth-in-advertising disclosure: I’m Irish too, and will be having a Guinness tonight while toasting my relatives in Maynooth in County Kildare!


Charlie LeDuff’s “Detroit: An American Autopsy”

LeDuff's "Detroit: An American Autopsy" I finished Charlie LeDuff’s “Detroit: An American Autopsy”.

Wow, just wow.

LeDuff does a fantastic job describing the hopelessness of Detroit, and those heroes who are not giving up on the city.

This book is an important, if not critical, read for those Michiganders who Continue reading


Gay Marriage in Michigan: What If…

I was struck at the news that former President George HW Bush (aka “41”) was the witness for a wedding in Maine last fall.

What makes the news amazing is that couple is gay.

Which got me wondering: Continue reading