Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
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.
Fewer people on welfare Partner station WCPN reports Ohio’s welfare rolls dropped 18 percent in one year. One reason is the improving economy. But the station reports that a bigger reason is tighter welfare rules.
Michigan, Ohio and Illinois voters have had their chance. Now, it’s Wisconsin’s turn.
Voters in the dairy state go to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the Republican primary. We’d love to hear how you voted, and what’s the most important issue on your minds.
After you vote, take our survey (or if you’ve already voted early, let us know now). It will help us understand whether different topics are of importance to people in different parts of the Great Lakes.
The board’s staff released signature tallies on Thursday on recall petitions for Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s lieutenant governor.
There were 931,053 signatures collected for Walker’s recall; 26,114 were discarded by the staff; 4,001 were found to be duplicates and 900,938 were declared valid. That’s far more than required to hold an election. Four state Senators also face recall elections.
If the elections are held, the staff recommended a primary take place on May 8 and the general election, if needed, on June 5.
Read all our coverage of Walker and the Wisconsin elections here.
in the case of unemployment rates in the Great Lakes states, headlines do not tell the full story.
This week, we heard that Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, within shouting distance of the national unemployment rate, and way down from the 14 percent territory it reached during the worst of the recession.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s rate held steady at 6.9 percent for the second straight month, and it’s down from 9.2 percent in June 2009.
But behind the Michigan numbers lies a paradox: the state has 409,000 people out of work, but there are 76,000 job openings that can’t be filled. Gov. Rick Snyder talked about this on Wednesday at a town hall in Detroit, urging job seekers to register with the state’s talent bank.
We’ve been as fascinated as anyone else about the strange news coming out of Clintonville, Wisc. this week. Residents in the small town have been hearing mysterious booming noises in the wee hours of the morning.
That leaves natural causes as a possible explanation. Accuweather.com says the Midwest’s abnormally warm spring could be playing a role, as ice in the ground quickly melted and the soil suddenly settled.
But one of the biggest questions, of course, is whether these noises are something to be worried about.
Modern slavery The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio says he believes there are hundreds of cases of human trafficking going on in the region at any time. It’s a problem “literally everywhere” he says, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Spring sprang today, and many Midwesterners have shed their winter coats and boots for shorts and t-shirts. But one group of Midwesterns are trying to resist the urge to speed up the season.
Farmers in Wisconsin normally start planting corn around April 15. And just because the temperatures are in the 70s this week, that doesn’t mean they can get an early start.
“Everybody wants to be the first one, to get the neighbors talking,” said Scott Pfeuti, who farms on 2,000 acres between Monticello and Albany, Wis. He told the Wisconsin State Journal that he’s sticking with his normal schedule.
Gambling go-ahead Partner station Michigan Radio reports last night the Lansing city council voted to approve a new $245 million casino. The casino would be built in the city’s downtown. It still needs federal approval.
Not the Abba song, right? Wisconsin governor Scott Walker talked to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News last night. He said the recall against him is a “Waterloo” for unions.
So much for pancakes this year Maple syrup producers in Wisconsin say this is their worst year in memory, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Because of the warm weather, sap only ran for one day in some places. Usually, it runs for weeks.