Indiana’s GOP Senate Primary Will Be A Doozy

Back in February, we gave you a heads up about the tough fight shaping up in Indiana for veteran U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar

He has not had a primary opponent since he first won election in 1976, and he’s been one of the most prominent Republicans in the Senate, leading the Foreign Relations Committee and serving as an advisor to numerous presidents.

But Lugar is being challenged by the state’s treasurer, Richard E. Mourdock, amid criticism from Tea Party members over his record. He’s also been embroiled in controversy over exactly where he lives.

Now, as a primary election approaches next month, his battle to keep his seat is getting even more intense.

Monica Davey in The New York Times takes a look at the race today. She reports that the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll showed Lugar leading Mourdock by 42 percent to 35 percent among likely primary voters. That is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus five points.

 

Santorum Out, Michigan-Born Romney Heads For Nomination

Before this campaign season, many voters in the Great Lakes had only peripherally heard of Rick Santorum. But his surprisingly strong challenge to Mitt Romney in Midwest Republican primaries most likely kept his campaign alive. 

Now, Santorum is suspending his race for the Republican nomination, effective today.

That most likely clears the way for Romney to become the first Michigan-born Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. Romney, who hails from Detroit, is likely to face President Barack Obama in the fall.

“This race was as improbable as any you’ll ever see for president,” Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said this afternoon. But, he added, “We are not done fighting.”

Santorum achieved one distinction during this winter’s primaries, by becoming the only Republican candidate to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He had a pasty for breakfast and picked up nearly all the UP’s delegates.

Read Changing Gears’ coverage of the Midwest Republican primaries here.

Michigan Lawmakers Take Aim At Teachers’ Union Dues

Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, says a Right to Work law is not a priority for his administration, and a number of Midwest governors agree. But the Michigan legislature has taken aim at a tenet of collective bargaining for the state’s teachers. 

On Wednesday, the Republican controlled legislature sent Snyder a bill that that prohibits public schools from automatically collecting dues from teachers and other school employees’ paychecks. The step affects teachers and employees from kindergarten through high school.

Supporters say the legislation will free up schools from doing the bookkeeping for unions, and require union members to write separate checks, or arrange for the money to be withdrawn from their accounts.

The ability to pay union dues via deduction has long been a method used by organized labor to encourage people to sign up. Labor leaders often have worried that if it’s difficult to pay dues, many people won’t bother.

“It could not have been a worse day,” David Hecker, the president of the Michigan branch of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a email to his members. (Read and listen to Changing Gears’ coverage of the issues facing teachers.) Continue reading “Michigan Lawmakers Take Aim At Teachers’ Union Dues”

Michigan And Ohio: Political Sisters Under The Skin

Of course, Michigan and Ohio will always be rivals — some might even say enemies on the football field, at least. But when it comes to politics, these two Great Lakes states are sisters under the skin. 

Last night’s Super Tuesday primary showed just how alike the two states are.

As he did last week in Michigan, Mitt Romney again squeaked out a victory in Ohio’s Super Tuesday primary. As he did last week, Rick Santorum showed that his strength lies with the most conservative Republicans, many in rural areas and in smaller towns.

And both men face the prospect that no matter what they did in the Michigan and Ohio primaries, President Barack Obama could beat either one come November. Continue reading “Michigan And Ohio: Political Sisters Under The Skin”

Super Tuesday Arrives; Will A Presumptive Emerge?

Super Tuesday is here, and political pundits say that if Mitt Romney wins Ohio, the Republican primary race will be over. 

That’s a big “if” and of course, the former Massachusetts governor has not yet locked up the delegates he will need.

But a Romney victory over Rick Santorum would give him a moral boost, assuming it is by a large enough margin. There is no guarantee of that, however.

At the end of the day Monday, the race for Ohio’s 66 delegates still seemed to be a statistical tie. Romney and Santorum made six collective stops in Ohio yesterday. Santorum battled perceptions that Romney is more electable than he is; Romney aimed at President Obama’s policies.  Continue reading “Super Tuesday Arrives; Will A Presumptive Emerge?”

Round On The End, High In The Middle, And Full of Politicians

With Super Tuesday primaries looming next week, the political world’s eyes are on Ohio, one of the richest prizes on the big day. 

(Okay, there are a lot of eyes on the Arnold Sports Festival, but he’s a Republican too, after all.)

On Friday, the latest poll from Quinnipiac University declared the Ohio primary too close to call between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Pennsylvania’s former Sen. Rick Santorum.

It showed Santorum with 35 percent of likely Republican voters, and Romney at 31 percent. On Monday, Santorum had a 36 percent to 29 percent lead, a day before the Michigan primary. About 34 percent of Ohioans surveyed said they could still change their minds

“At this point, the Buckeye State is too close to call and is clearly a two-man race between Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“A third of the electorate say they still might change their mind. With five days until Super Tuesday, they certainly will be exposed to enough negative television ads to provide fodder for those who might want to switch – or switch off.”  Continue reading “Round On The End, High In The Middle, And Full of Politicians”

Election Night in Michigan, From Changing Gears

Thanks for reading our updates on the Michigan primary race. We’ll be back on Wednesday with a look ahead to Ohio’s contest on Super Tuesday.

10:35 pm ET News organizations declare Romney the winner. It wasn’t the blow out that Romney might have wanted, but virtually all the major news organizations, including NPR, the New York Times, and the broadcast and cable networks, have called the Michigan primary for him.

With about 70 percent of votes in, Romney is leading Santorum by 41.6 percent to 37.3 percent. Since delegates are awarded on congressional districts, and the vote totals are not in, it’s not possible to divide them up yet. But both will get some.

CNN reports that Santorum called Romney before his speech to concede.

“Thank you, Michigan, what a win. Thanks, you guys,” Romney said at his campaign event. in Novi, Mich. “This is the place where I was born, this is the place that I was raised…I know that Michiganders in this room, we consider you all family.”

He added, “We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that’s all that counts.”

10:15 pm ET. NBC calls it; Santorum speaks. NBC News becomes the first network to call the state for Romney. In Grand Rapids, an upbeat Santorum speaks to his followers. He thanks his supporters and says, “A month ago, they didn’t know who we were. They do now.”

He talks about his mother, who lived in Saginaw, and speaks of his college-educated wife. The comments are a contrast to Santorum’s dismissal of President Obama as a “snob” because he supports college education programs. Continue reading “Election Night in Michigan, From Changing Gears”

4 Things We Learned About Michigan Through The Primary

If you want an honest opinion, ask a stranger, or so the saying goes. During the past couple of weeks, the political press corps has been spread out across Michigan, following Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul around the state, finding all kinds of things out.

Their stories have reflected a state that some Midwesterners might not recognize. So, here’s a list of what we learned through the Michigan primary.

1) We’re in a class war. The Michigan Republican party is divided between wealthy people and working class and middle class Republicans, or so writers told us.

Ron Brownstein of the National Journal found the latter at the Knights of Columbus hall in Lincoln Park.

They’re what he needs if Santorum is going to eventually beat Romney. He ” will likely have to reach more deeply into blue-collar, heavily Catholic, working-class white communities that have became central to the Republican electoral coalition, especially between the coasts,” Brownstein wrote.

Paul West of the Los Angeles Times found the same thing when he went to Troy. “The bitter Republican primary battle in Michigan has turned into an all-out class war,” he wrote. Continue reading “4 Things We Learned About Michigan Through The Primary”