By Bankole Thompson
Democrats in Michigan are leaderless right now. Despite promising to fight back right-to-work law, extreme anti-abortion bills and now another right wing bill to allow guns in schools, day care centers, churches and stadiums, Michigan Democrats have no clear leader to run for governor in 2014.
It is a bad situation for Democrats to be in because if they plan to take on Republicans in Lansing they have to start now. They can’t wait till the end of 2013 to start looking for a gubernatorial candidate. They should learn the lesson of the national Republican presidential campaign where the blunders of not agreeing on a consensus candidate rendered their flagbearer Mitt Romney politically impotent aside from his own created mistakes.
With the passage of right-to-work law, and the barrage of extreme social reform bills attacking women’s reproductive rights, Gov Rick Snyder has re-established himself as the consensus candidate in 2014. That means he won’t have any challengers from the extreme right of the party because he’s delivering what they want: the extreme social reform bills that are making it to his desk for his signature. If he signs the bills plus right-to-work he’s won their vote of confidence for 2014.
The only leader in the Michigan Democratic camp in my view who could lift the party up from its current political doldrums is Debbie Dingell, a member of the Democratic National Committee. Dingell is not only a household name in Michigan but her political influence resonates beyond the corridors of Michigan. She is a strong reference in the Congressional landscape in Washington and the White House. She is one of the few leaders in metro Detroit whose grassroots, political, institutional and cultural connections are beyond the official lines that divide Michigan and Washington.
Aside from the fact Debbie Dingell is married to the dean of Congress John Dingell, she has long established herself as a working power broker who is ranked among the most influential women in Washington.
In the Obama era, it is important that Michigan Democrats not repeat the mistakes of the last gubernatorial election and get behind a consensus candidate whose relationship with the federal government can bring the bacon home quickly. They can’t just sit and be talking about what they are going to do in 2014.
Another possible option for Democrats in Michigan is Congressman Gary Peters but it is not politically realistic for Peters to abdicate his new Congressional role while not guaranteeing that a Democratic will regain that seat once he exits.
So to party chair Mark Brewer, UAW, and all the other high priests of the Democratic Party it is time to get to work. It is time for Democrats to move beyond issuing press releases and start rolling out a realistic plan for 2014.
A conservative writer walked up to me at the Detroit Athletic Club two days ago and said he agreed with my last column in the Michigan Chronicle, that politics and nothing else is driving these so-called reforms.
Democrats are known for being politically naive. Hopefully in this new political dispensation where Republican lawmakers are engaging in so much social engineering in Lansing with incomprehensible bills, they won’t be sleeping at the wheel this time around. If Democrats in Michigan can’t seize the advantage they have in the Obama era they might as well surrender and stop complaining about what Republican lawmakers in Lansing are doing.
Bankole Thompson author of “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” is a distinguished journalist and presidential author. Since 2008 he has been a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening program on New York’s WLIB-1190AM. You can tune in every Sunday to hear his take on the Obama administration from 9-10:30pm and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut. You can listen to him every Thursday morning on WDET-101.9FM (Detroit NPR Affiliate) where he is a political analyst. Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming book “Rising from the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” No part of this blog must be republished without the appropriate designation or expressed permisison of the author http://www.bankolethompson.com