August 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Democrats complete ticket, portray GOP as party of 'bigots, billionaires and bullies'

Lansing— Democrats completed their November ticket Sunday, while reminding themselves of the 2010 election in which Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans seized control of state government as many of their own party members failed to vote.

They confirmed Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, a former state representative, as their lieutenant governor candidate to run with gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer of Battle Creek, a former U.S. representative and state lawmaker.

Michigan State University law professor Mark Totten of East Lansing was selected as the party’s candidate for attorney general, while Detroit civil rights attorney Godfrey Dillard for secretary of state.

The vote was a formality, since Schauer already had chosen Brown as his running mate. They’ve been making campaign appearances together for months.

Schauer told the convention he’s proud Brown “led the fight against (Gov.) Rick Snyder’s $1-billion cut to our schools and wouldn’t be silenced . . . about a woman’s right to choose.”

The comments refer to a disputed Democratic claim that Snyder slashed state spending on K-12 education and a battle over proposed abortion regulations while Brown was a state representative. Her strong comments led to a one-day censure by the House GOP leadership, followed by national publicity.

Schauer said Michiganians are ready for change because Snyder administration policies have harmed seniors, teachers, school children and the middle class.

“We still build things in Michigan and it is time to build the Michigan we deserve,” he told party members at the Lansing Center convention facility. “We are tied in the polls and we have all the momentum.”

A repeated theme of Sunday’s speeches was that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Michigan, but too few of them go to the polls in non-presidential election years such as this one.

In the 2010 Republican sweep of state government, more than 900,000 Democrats failed to vote, said Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson. He outlined strategy to reach potential voters, through 28 local offices, and to expand the electorate by sending out easy-mail applications to absentee voters.

“If we turn out, we win,” Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.

A parade of party leaders tossed out sound bites they hope will stimulate the membership — Snyder as a rich guy, surrounding himself with rich cronies and unfriendly to the middle class.

House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills charged that Republicans are a party of “bigots, billionaires and bullies.” He claimed GOP campaigns are “funded by out-of-state oil billionaires.”

Convention delegate Joanne Braund of Royal Oak said she is motivated because Snyder “is taking credit for saving the state, when it’s really the auto industry and its suppliers that did it.”

“He’s out there hogging all the publicity,” she said. “I’ve come to the conclusion that if we don’t get out there and get good people elected — like Mark Schauer and (U.S. Senate candidate) Gary Peters — we have only ourselves to blame.”

GHeinlein@detroitnews.com
(517) 371-3660