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The Freep says softly what the rest of us are thinking: Horace Sheffield doesn't belong in Congress

by: Eric B.

Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:14:37 AM EDT

The 13th Congressional District Democratic primary was shaping up to be this year's Dear God, Why? race, pitting the shell of John Conyers versus the appalling Horace Sheffield. Then, Conyers had trouble with his nominating petitions, which even if he navigates his way back to the ballot screams out that his best days are well, well behind him (a friend working a campaign two years ago spoke of Conyers showing up to events, not entirely cognizant of where he was or what he was doing). And, it looked like we'd have to wait another two years to find a real replacement for Conyers.

The Freep says all this, but a lot more nicely. They think Ken Cockrel Jr. and Benny Napoleon should get into the race.

Ken Cockrel Jr. and Benny Napoleon.

This time last week, the race for the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary was a two-way heat, between incumbent John Conyers and the Rev. Horace Sheffield III.

We believe Cockrel and Napoleon — two men with long records of public service and competency, and both of whom live in the 13th District — ought to join the field.

The reason is simple: maximizing voter choice.

Maximizing voter choice in this case screams out, "We find the alternative so odious that we'd just as soon someone else run a write-in campaign." I mean, that's the choice they have. Of course, it worked out pretty well for Mike Duggan.

Update! ... On social media, Truscott-Rossman guy Graham Davis says that independent candidates can file until July 17 for the November ballot. If true, someone please verify in comments, this is another way to get a choice on the ballot.

Also, word has touched my ear that should Sheffield win a seat in Congress and no substantial opponent come forward in two years, that a local equivalent of the Inanimate Carbon Rod campaign will be mounted as a protest. IN ROD WE TRUST!

Eric B. :: The Freep says softly what the rest of us are thinking: Horace Sheffield doesn't belong in Congress
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Saw Conyers on Pontiac Friday evening
He was an honorary co-chair for our new mayor's inaugural celebration. He wasn't out of sorts that night, from what I could tell.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

Err, he was IN Pontiac.
My mistake.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Maybe he's more lucid at night
I've been hearing this the last couple of campaign cycles, matter of fact. But, it wasn't until 2012 that I heard it from someone whose opinion I'd vouch for as more than rumor.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
I'm by no means advancing that he's at the top of his game
but Nolan Finley was painting a picture of doddering senility.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
To be more accurate
he painted him as a walking political corpse, a la Weekend At Bernie's.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Finley expressing his Schadenfreude is not pretty
Not that he'd like any replacement for Conyers any better.

Greetings from Detroit, Ground Zero of the post-industrial future!

[ Parent ]
I'm in no place to judge, myself
I think I've met the Congressman maybe once, maybe not at all. It makes a lot of sense, since I'm a mid-Michigan rustic and he represents Detroit. But, I've got my peeps like everyone else, and when they say that he appeared not sure of where he was at, I have to take their word for it.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
As has been mentioned before, asking someone to vote for a write-in is asking them to do something they don't normally do when voting.

People are used to filling in the bubble (or connecting the arrows, which I understand is still a thing in some places). Some have probably written in names without filling in the bubble or connecting the arrow. But writing in a name and making the correct mark? That's another story.

That's part of why it's unusual for a write-in to defeat someone who's already on the ballot. But it's happened before.

In the 2013 primary, write-in candidates received more than 52% of the vote for Mayor of Detroit (of which 46% went to Duggan and a few went to Mike Dugeon).

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) won re-election as a write-in after losing the primary.

It almost happened in Grand Rapids in 2012. After the Great Schmidtstorm of 2012, Bing Goei ran for the Republican nomination in the 76th. Schmidt won the primary by just 266 votes - but Goei won the election-day vote. He got into that race less than a month before the primary, by which time many  absentee votes had been cast for Schmidt. Had Goei jumped in earlier, he might have beaten Schmidt.

It's rare - and there's no guarantee that a candidate would even come close to beating Sheffield - but it can happen. Such a candidate should jump in sooner rather than later and have a solid absentee chase program, among other things.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

I would bet
that Conyers wins if he is a write-in candidate, in part because of the 2013 write-in education throughout metro Detroit.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
If he has a disciplined campaign, yes.
But there seems to be some doubt as to whether that's really the case.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

[ Parent ]
It's really not that hard
If Conyers wants to do this, he's going to do whatever it takes.  He could hire Duggan's people and call it a day.  I think the conventional wisdom around write-ins is just wrong.  Sure, if you're some no-name trying to get on the ballot, it's going to be near impossible.  But, for long-serving politicians who have to find their way back on the ballot, I'd actually say that you're chances of winning are better than not, not the opposite.  Yet there seems to be this belief that this is some extraordinary lift.  It's not.

[ Parent ]
Assuming for the moment that Conyers will be running a write-in
campaign, what is being asked is for a third, more credible candidate for Congress to jump in and also run a write-in campaign on the August ballot, against a veteran Congressman with universal name recognition, and against another person actually on the ballot. It would need to be exceptionally well funded.

Scott points out that getting voters to write in is asking them to leave their comfort zone in the first place. Now, split those who are willing to do that between Conyers loyalists, and those savvy enough to pick a candidate more able (in 2014, I mean; paying full honor to Rep. Conyers' decades of service) to serve capably in Congress. That seems to me a recipe for electing Sheffield.

Which raises the question, which is worse -- having one of Michigan's Democratic seats represented by someone no longer at the top of his game (at least), but who will presumably still vote the right way, or Mr. Sheffield, whom I do not know, but hear disquieting things about?

Oh -- and what about another candidate gathering petition signatures to run as an independent in Nov? Then you need to go up against the wall of straight-ticket voters, which if anything is more difficult than winning as a write-in in Aug, since the General electorate is less informed and politically savvy than the smaller, self-selected Primary electorate.

Great points
I think another write-in has no hope with Conyers also seeking the seat via write-in AND an independent candidate short of Aretha Franklin (or comparably beloved individual) has very little hope of withstanding the Democratic straight ticket deluge.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Straight ticket voters
Yes, people will vote straight-ticket - but more importantly, we need them to vote straight-ticket for the sake of Schauer and Peters.

As far as I can tell, an independent candidate would have three choices:

1. Dissuade people from voting straight Democratic, which could hurt Schauer and Peters.

2. Encourage people to vote straight Democratic but also to vote for the independent candidate for Congress. The plus side: If you vote straight ticket but then vote for an individual candidate in a partisan race, that vote will "override" the straight ticket for that particular race, but the party's other nominees (Schauer, Peters, etc.) would still get a vote. The problem is that it might be confusing - and we Dems can't really afford for people to be confused.

3. Not try to actually win, but rather, be a sort of "conscience candidate" for those who don't want to vote for someone like Sheffield.

As Mark said, if the goal is keeping Horace Sheffield out of Congress, the least bad way to do that would be via a write-in effort in the primary.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

[ Parent ]
I read the editorial, this morning, and the thing was just weird.  First, it just basically assumes Conyers isn't going to run as a write-in (or even that he's already off the ballot).  Then, they throw two candidate's names out who haven't expressed any interest in a race that isn't even a race, yet.  And then, to add insult to injury, they include Benny Napolean's name.  I can think of ten other Detroiters off the top my head who would be in front of this guy - who'd be no better than Sheffield, really - who shouldn't even be Detroit's dog catcher, let alone a congressman.  Then, they completely don't even mention Sheffield's history with the legal system, which should all by itself disqualify him as a serious candidate.

The whole thing was weird and premature and inappropriate.

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