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Today in campaign news: Dems' 3rd Supreme Court nomination

by: ScottyUrb

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 18:11:22 PM EDT

Brace yourselves - Eric will be back to tormenting enlightening us on these here pages in the coming days. You've been warned.

*-- We've known that Richard Bernstein would likely be nominated for one of the eight-year terms on the Court, with Deborah Thomas to be nominated for a two-year term. But what about the other eight-year term? Late last week, it was announced that the Michigan Association for Justice is supporting Jucge Bill Murphy for that slot. Murphy is the chief judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. However, now there are concerns from a number of individuals regarding Murphy's views on choice. I have not been able to find anything that would corroborate those concerns - but long story short, we may have a contest at the Democratic convention this weekend. 

*--We're still months  away from the start of the next Legislature, but already there's posturing among Republicans to see who will be the new House Republican leader. Al Pscholka announced that Lisa Lyons is supporting him, with Lyons likely to take another leadership role. Kevin Cotter says he's got the support of 25 lawmakers - but he's in danger of losing his own seat to Bryan Mielke this fall. Which begs the question: If he does lose, will Cotter's supporters back Pscholka? If not, who will they back?

*--Mark Totten has a new video.

ScottyUrb :: Today in campaign news: Dems' 3rd Supreme Court nomination
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Seeing as how shallow as supreme court races have become, picking a "Murphy" a smart, cynical move since it's been pretty clear that court voters love an Irish name. lol  I wouldn't mind him tossed for someone else if it turns out his views on choice are anti-choice.  But, I don't expect to win all three of these seats, anyway.  Though, even if we did when you consider for how long the court has been conservative, it's not like having a anti-choice Dem would make much of a difference.  We'd have a 4-3 advantage in the very best case scenario.  The reality is that on a court of seven, you need a pretty overwhelming majority (like the GOP has now) to really hope for anything good for your side.

As for the legislative news, not only are these two talking about leadership positions within the GOP caucus, but about who will be speaker, which is assuming a whole helluva lot.  If you asked me today, I'd bet Dems have a better than 50% chance of taking back the legislature (the few polls done of generic ballot show Dems up 10+), even with the gerrymandering.  Shows how out-of-touch they are that they've pretty much decided that they'll have control after November.  If my math is right, if Dems hold onto all of their seats (and we'll pick up Olumba's seat), that's 52 right there.  Which means we only really need to flip four measley seats to get to a majority right?  I see a lot of folks down on our chances, but I'm just not seeing that on the ground or in the polling.

I wish I was as optimistic as you are about regaining the House. While there is definitely a chance, the Dems will most likely be losing seats we currently hold as well. Some of these may include:

-84th: Terry Brown is termed out in a Republican leaning district.
71st: Abed's seat is a pure tossup and could go either way.
-25th: Yanez's district is also in play. He was out fundraised the last period and it seems like his competitor is working hard.
-62nd: Segal is termed out and the Republican has raised a lot of money in a district that is not safely Dem.
-21st: Slavens is termed out and Fausone is the Repub. candidate. A female veteran will def. have a chance in that swing district.
-91st: Former Rep Holly Hughes is ready for a rematch against Lamonte.
-76th: Winnie Brinks should win but its still a tough district.

While there are def. seats we could flip, we also have to defend all of those plus probably a few others. I especially like Karpinsky's chances in the 30th and Mary Kerwin's chances in 41st for the D's.  

[ Parent ]
I've written a model trying to predict the probability of a House majority.
I can't post the whole thing here, but here is the abstract.

Abstract: Two different methods of analysis are employed to estimate the range of probabilities, under different assumptions, that Democrats will win control of the Michigan House in 2014.

An analysis of the Republican gerrymander over the last decade compared with the new map's results in 2012 leads to the conclusion that the Republican gerrymander has been strengthened, perhaps dramatically, and Democrats may need to have a state-wide vote advantage of 10% to 12% in order to have only a 50-50 chance of winning a House majority. An advantage of that size this year seems unlikely.

A Monte Carlo simulation, based on 2012 results, but including incumbency and money effects from this year, is conducted under a variety of assumptions, yielding the conclusion that under the most optimistic possible assumptions, the probability of a House majority is on the order of 30%, and under more realistic sets of assumptions the probability ranges between 0% and 4%.

Under the most likely assumptions, the expected value of Democratic seats is 50.9, the 95% confidence interval is 48-54 seats, with Democrats winning a majority in only 0.5% of the model runs.

[ Parent ]
Here are some of the key contested seats in the model:
District 2012 Margin 2014 Pred Margin P_w Partisan Shift Incumbency Bonus Money Bonus Republican COH_PP Democrat COH_PP
23 - 1.0% - 7.8% 20.6% - 2.8% - 2.0% - 2.0% Somerville I 83 Linko 26
25 2.9% 2.1% 58.6% - 2.8% 2.0% Hawatmeh 31 Yanez I 48
41 - 0.9% - 6.7% 24.0% - 2.8% - 2.0% - 1.0% Howrylak I 55 Kerwin 28
52 6.0% 10.2% 85.9% - 2.8% 2.0% 5.0% Hochstetler NR Driskell I 100
62 15.3% 7.5% 78.6% - 2.8% - 5.0% Bizon 38 Morgan 5
63 - 1.7% - 6.5% 24.6% - 2.8% - 2.0% Maturen 30 Farmer 9
71 6.9% 7.1% 77.1% - 2.8% 2.0% 1.0% Barrett 33 Abed I 80
84 14.5% 11.7% 89.0% - 2.8% Wencel 13 Jaroch 12
91 0.8% 0.0% 50.1% - 2.8% 2.0% Hughes 94 Lamonte I 114
101 - 2.1% - 6.9% 23.4% - 2.8% - 2.0% Franz I 47 Stobie 54
110 3.2% 7.4% 78.1% - 2.8% 2.0% 5.0% Michaels 0 Dianda I 42

[ Parent ]
What about the 98th?
Some readers may be aware that Gary Glenn narrowly won the Republican primary for the 98th district.  While it's reliably been a safe Republican district in the past, I think local businesses that rely on highly educated workers may get that having a Rick Santorum-type person representing the district could be a major turn-off for young people.  That might make it a somewhat competitive race.  Heck, I'm going to start updating my CV if he wins, and I'm 51.

[ Parent ]
There are a few seats like the 98th:
98 - 17.8% - 20.6% 2% - 2.8% Glenn 45 Brausch 32 1.4

... where it is clear that SOMEBODY thinks the Dem has a chance. Or else Brausch would not have $32k cash on hand, which is good. I still rate it as 2% prob. of a win, due to the -17.8% margin last time.

Again, I stress that my claim is that the aggregate prediction is far stronger than any one district prediction. There may be special circumstances in a few districts around the state such that the 2012 results are not a good base for a prediction, or money is not a good guide. But by the nature of things, those cases tend to average out. They are not all lined up for one party.  

[ Parent ]
I based this on the margins from 2012, the only results we have
from the new map, then made a 2% adjustment for incumbents, and a 1% adjustment for every multiple of one candidate's money the other has, that is 2:1 money advantage at pre-primary is a 1% bump to the margin, 3:1 is 2%, and so on.

Positive numbers are Dem advantage, and negative Rep., and all the adjustments likewise.

The predicted margin is transformed into a probability of winning assuming a normal distribution with a 9.5% variance, which is about the average amount districts swing from one election to the next over the last decade.

The greatest unknown is what the 'partisan shift', that is, the amount turnout will favor Rs or Ds compared with the last election, will be. It is almost always negative in a non-Presidential year. The exception was 2006, but then we had an unpopular R President in office. Now we have a (moderately) unpopular D. My prediction, as you can see in the table, is a - 2.8% shift.

I did all this before the Primary right after PP CFRs came out. I have not adjusted it for Primary outcomes (yet). It won't make that much difference.  I did not attempt to estimate candidate quality other than using money raised as a proxy. That all averages out anyway. The overall prediction, I believe, is much stronger than the prediction about any one race.

[ Parent ]
House majority
It's 59-50-1, so Olumba's seat would make it 59-51.

Anyway, a lot of the pessimism seems to be rooted in the assumption that Dem voters won't turn out in droves because it's a midterm.

I recall that there were roughly 25 seats in play in 2012, but we only won about five or six of them. Of the ones we lost, several (7-8, IIRC) were within five points. Not to mention seats which weren't targeted but which are being targeted this time.

Cotter's seat is a prime example of the latter. In 2012 we had a, uh, mediocre candidate running against Cotter. This year we have Bryan Mielke, a longtime community activist, township trustee, and business owner who loves doing doors. And the district is 50/50. If CMU students turn out and Mielke gets a lot of their votes, there's a pickup right there.

How do we get there? By defending the seats we have, of course. But we also have a lot of great candidates challenging Republicans in other seats: In addition to Mielke, we have David Haener, Phil Kurczewski, Tom Redmond, Annie Brown, Grant Carlson, Bo Karpinsky, Sandy Colvin, Tom Stobie, John Fisher, Mary Kerwin, Mary Belden, Stacey Dogonski, Nate Smith-Tyge, and some whose names I've forgotten. Heck, if even half of the folks I mentioned are able to win, we'll have 58 seats (minus any losses).

If they all win? 65 seats. That would be a miracle, but it goes to show that even if a number of these races don't pan out, we can still take control.

As an aside, I recall one media organization in 2012 acting like the Republicans were a lock to hold the House that year. The same outlet now treats the Republican leadership race like a race for House Republican leader - not speaker. That kind of 'hedging' tone shows you that even establishment types see a chance for Dems.

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

[ Parent ]
Not only that
Pundits actually predicted that the GOP would net a half-dozen seats in the House.  My point is that even with the gerrymanders and having to hold seats is that there are enough seats in play to not just eke out a majority, but to have a pretty healthy majority, again.  2006 and 2008 were very good years, indeed, but we don't even need wins that big to retain a majority.

BTW, thanks for the corrections on the current count.  I couldn't remember if Olumba was #51 or #52.  I guess my point continues to be that we're going to win some seats we didn't even expect to in the state house, just like we did in 2012.  This simply won't be a good year for the republicans at the state legislative level.  They have better chances at the executive seats than they do at the legislative seats.  There simply isn't any polling data to show a good year for the GOP in the state house.  They've overextended themselves in a state this blue.  The question isn't whether we net seats in both legislative chambers, but how many.

[ Parent ]
You would need to point out who in their right mind predicted
that the GOP would net any seats, let alone a half-dozen, going from the historic year 2010 to 2012. In 2010, they won 63, which was more than in any year going back to 1954! There were literally no more targets, so it was inevitable that the balance would regress back towards the mean from there.

However, the balance only regressed back to 59 R seats, in a Presidential year, which is still more R seats in the Michigan House in a Presidential election than in any year going back to 1956.

My explanation for this circumstance is that the new map is considerably more effective for them. What is your explanation?

I wish I could post a graph in a comment here, which would make this point easier to grasp.

You say we won seats "we didn't expect to" in 2012. Which? And even if you answer that, the thing that needs explaining is still hanging there -- 59 R seats in a Presidential year.

Now, my model (the central case) assumes a - 2.8% shift in the statewide vote for the House. And even with that, the expected value is 50.9 Dem seats -- in other words, same result as 2012. The fact that the same result is predicted with a negative shift argues that we were unlucky by a few seats in 2012.

But the most striking thing about the new map is just how successfully voters have been segregated into our partisan ghettos, and consequently just how few competitive seats there are left (absent another major scandal like the Bolger scandal). I've identified my list above. If you want to say there are more, you need to provide an argument.

In 2012, we won the statewide vote for the House by 8%, and won 7% fewer seats by doing that. That is a 15% gerrymander effect. The largest previous (recent) effect was 8% in 2004. That is what I am talking about.

[ Parent ]
As someone who grew up Downriver, I think Haener is going to give Somerville a tough fight. A relatively unknown, he beat Brownstown Supervisor Andy Linko by getting out there and knocking doors. 2 years ago, Somerville (an incumbent) only beat Tom Boritzki(a former mayor who did little to no campaigning) by 500 votes.

If Haener continues knocking doors there is no reason why he couldn't take this one.

[ Parent ]
From what part of Downriver do you hail?
If you don't mind sharing.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Here we go again
If Murphy is anti-choice and if there's floor fight at the convention, it looks like I'll have to make the trip up to Lansing and vote against the guy.

At least one of our major parties has to stand up for the constitutional right to abortion, which has been the law of this country for over 40 years.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

Statement by the Justice Caucus
The Justice Caucus is a democratic body, governed by 43 board members who have voted that, given the nature of our work, our values and our beliefs, the Justice Caucus will not support an anti-choice candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court.  


Out of curiosity, why was this statement put out.  Do we know if Bill Murphy is anti-choice?  Again, this is my first time even hearing his name, but it's odd no one within Dem circles seems to be able to confirm his position on choice.  I guess it's good to be pre-emptive, but you'd think there'd be a less chaotic way to have had this organized before the fact.

[ Parent ]
Judge Murphy
Bill Murphy has been around for years, having been appointed to the Appeals Court in the Eighties by Jim Blanchard. He is 69 years old, so would be a one-term Justice if elected.

He ran for the Supreme Court in '96 and lost in what was, to that point, one of the more bitter campaigns for the Court. He was tarred as a "liberal" by Engler who made it his mission to take him down.

As I recall, and this is strictly from memory having been a delegate to the State Conventions during the Nineties, there were some of the same speculative comments raised about Murphy's stance on choice at that time due to his significant volunteer activity in Grand Rapids Area Catholic organization. I recall a comment made by a pro-choice activist at our district meeting on Saturday that Murphy's membership in the K of C should have disqualified him from the Court. Yes, said at a Democratic convention not at a Joe McCarthy reunion.

These claims, again from memory, were never shown to be based on fact or on decisions he had made on the Court, and he was one of our nominees.

I believe that he will be a strong nominee as we seek to take back the Court.

[ Parent ]
Here is an excerpt from a Peter Luke article from Jan. 2005
which was when Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigned, allowing Gov. Granholm to appoint a new Justice. This is preserved online in a Free Republic post, of all places!

Another Supreme Court appointment possibility from the Court of Appeals is Judge William Murphy of Grand Rapids. Murphy was an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the Supreme Court in 1996.

One wrinkle is that he is 10 years older than White and in 1996 was endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan.

Robert LaBrant, a lawyer and political strategist with the Michigan Supreme Court, said Granholm could appeal to cultural conservatives in West Michigan with a Murphy appointment.

Larry Galmish, Right to Life's political director, said he didn't think Granholm's abortion rights supporters would stand for it.

"I doubt they would like anyone who is pro-life in that office."


[ Parent ]
Is the Democratic Party really going to nominate an anti-choice judge for Michigan Supreme Court?
50-State Strategy
Many who rightly applauded the 50-state strategy of DNC Chairman Howard Dean forget that the premise of that strategy is really having a 'big tent'. It is really the same as saying we want an 83-County strategy, which many Michigan Dems feel is needed.

And when we say that, what we are really saying is that the tent is going to have to expand beyond what those of us in the populated and socially liberal counties think about the issues of the day. When we expand our efforts, we are going to be taking in many Democrats who support the Party based on economic issues rather than social issues. The UP is a great example of that, and the former Congressman Bart Stupak was emblematic of that positioning. He was "pure" to many Dems, but he represented his district - and he Democrats of his district. And his vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker was preferable to a potential vote for John Boehner for Speaker.

[ Parent ]

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