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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Birthplace and Candidates for Michigan Governor: Why We Have Bigger Issues To Worry About

Sign denoting entrance into Howell, Michigan
"What does a birthplace got to do with becoming the next Governor of Michigan?"

A brief history lesson highlights in 1848, while former Michigan Governor Lewis Cass ran for president, Abraham Lincoln a congressman for Illinois accused Cass and the other Democrats of exaggerating their military accomplishments along with forming a close association with former Democratic president Andrew Jackson’s legacy. 

Lincoln's use of the word “Michigander” as a combination of “Michigan” and “Gander,” was done to call Cass, essentially, a silly goose from Michigan. 

The proper term for Michigan residents is Michiganian according to the Michigan Historical Center, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections -- containing a 40 volume collection of historical documents, transcripts and material about Michigan life dating back to the 1870s.

Now since that's out of the way, what about a silly notion where an potential candidate for Michigan Governor was born should be an determining factor on whom state residents choose to become next Chief Executive. First, this notion should not exist and here's why.

Our last Governor, Jennifer Granholm was born in Canada
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer
Granholm (D)

Vancouver, Canada to be exact is where Granholm was raised until the age of four. As a native Canadian, Granholm won her second candidacy as Governor of Michigan in 2006 against Grand Rapids born and owner of Amway Corporation Dick Devos by 14 percentage points.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero could be described as a Capitol City transplant from Pontiac, Michigan, when he battled and lost by 18.2 percentage points to the self-described Nerd living in Ann Arbor, Rick Snyder. 

Likewise Snyder was a relocated Michigander by way of being born and raised in Battle Creek.

Reality would state, who cares if a candidate for Michigan Governor was born to the north, south or one nation over from the states' Capitol seat in Lansing? 

Apparently, some Michigan residents care, rather deeply.

Former Congressman Mark Schauer is running for the Democratic party nomination for Governor during Michigan 2014 Gubernatorial contest. To date, Schauer is the sole Democratic candidate announcing his intentions to unseat Rick Snyder rein as the states' highest elected official.

According to Schauer Gubernatorial candidacy website, the Battle Creek resident was born in Howell, Michigan.
Photo Credit-Mark Schauer for
Governor Website
Michigan Democratic Candidate
for Governor-Mark Schauer
"Mark Schauer is a lifelong fighter for Michigan workers, families, and businesses. Throughout his career in public service, Mark has fought for quality schools, healthy communities, better job training, and an economy that works for everyone.

Mark was born and raised in Howell, Michigan. His dad was a high school science teacher, and his mom a nurse."

Why is Mark Schauer birthplace important to some residents of this state?

Howell, Michigan has a historical history many moons ago, of being near the location were former Ku Klux Klan member Robert E. Miles conducted his meetings, as New York Times writer Jeremy Peters wrote in 2005
"It is hard for residents here to forget the times when Mr. Miles, a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan who died in 1992, would invite fellow Klansmen to his farm outside the city limits. Although Mr. Miles's cross-burning gatherings took place in neighboring Cohoctah Township, it was Howell that was branded as a haven of white supremacist activity," Peters wrote.

On weekends when Mr. Miles would have his rallies, Klansmen would stream through Howell, check in to the Holiday Inn and trek to the farm for their meetings. The gatherings largely stopped by the 1980's. Since then, the town has fought to shed its association with the Klan."
Hence, we've establish more than 30 years ago Robert E. Miles and his merry band of followers marched in the streets of Howell, Michigan.

What does the actions of Miles have to do with Mark Schauer candidacy for Governor? Absolutely nothing at all. 

Which is why it's a bit disturbing to say the least, to see in social media circles others assert an ridiculous connection between a candidacy for Governor, Howell, Michigan and Robert E. Miles.

After graduating from Albion College a private liberal arts college in the 1980's, Schauer ran the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan located in nearby Battle Creek, Michigan. Shortly thereafter, Schauer's career in public service began.
"Mark served on the Battle Creek City Commission from 1994-1996. He won his first race for the Michigan House of Representatives by defeating an incumbent in 1996, and was re-elected in 1998 and 2000. In 2002, Mark won a competitive open race for State Senate, and was re-elected in 2006.

Mark was elected to represent Michigan’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, defeating incumbent Tim Walberg in Congress."
As an African-American ran politics orientated blog in Michigan, it is important to spell out facts. Where Mark Schauer was born or raised, does not result in the former Congressman being more or less viable to become the 49th Governor of Michigan.

Schauer should be judged for his ability to lead as Michigan highest elected official by his stances, policy positions and record alone. Nothing more, nothing else. 

Potential voters should fairly examine Schauer plans, if chosen as Michigan's 49th Governor, against the last three years give or take, of Rick Snyder's record.

Photo Credit -
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder(R)
March 4, 2011, Governor Snyder signed into law Michigan's Public Act 4, widely known as the Emergency Manager law. Shortly thereafter, Snyder in quick secession assigned Emergency Financial Managers African-American populated cities and school districts in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit Public Schools.

When Public Act 4 was successful defeated by November 5, 2012 referendum vote, Governor Snyder three weeks later signed into law Public Act 436, dubbed as the Detroit Bankruptcy Law.

As of November 2013, eleven Michigan cities and six school districts are under the authority of an Emergency Manager, a consent decree or under review. In twelve of the municipalities or public school districts, the population of African-Americans residents or students receiving K-12 education in the locality, is above 60 percent.

December 2012 Governor Rick Snyder signed Michigan's Right-to-Work law
Photo Credit - ROJS Media
Michigan State Police prevent state residents
from entering the Romney Building in Lansing
during December 2013 Right-to-Work Law

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 13.5 percent of African-Americans in Michigan belonging to a union affiliated household in 2011, compared to 11.6 percent of Caucasians age 16 and over.

African-Americans represented by a union in Michigan dipped 0.1 percentage points to 13.5 percent in 2012. Michigan's Caucasian residents union membership averaged 11.1 percent in this same period.

Other programs Governor Rick Snyder signed into law has included slashing state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks, eliminated the earned income tax credit and imposed a four year lifetime limit on cash assistance programs for single mothers with children. 

Each of these measures adversely impacted Michigan's African-American moderate to low income citizens.

The moral of this story is African-Americans would be wise not to engage in Group-think tactics based on Mark Schauer's place of birth. As Rick Snyder's actual record being Governor has done more to harm African-Americans achieving fair economic mobility in Great Lakes State of Michigan.

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