Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, left, Mike Duggan )
Detroit— Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon will enter the second mayoral debate today looking to mount a come-from-behind victory based on face-to-face talks with residents and website connections.
“Our focus as a campaign is to continue to inform Detroiters about my bold Neighborhood Growth Strategy that will stabilize, revitalize and economically grow our neighborhoods,” Napoleon said Tuesday in a statement. “It's the most comprehensive and realistic plan that will go to work transforming our neighborhoods. There are campaign events scheduled through the election and more added daily, which are posted at www.bennynapoleon.com/campaign.”
Mayoral candidate and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan’s campaign has been running a steady but low volume of television ads since the Aug. 6 primary. Duggan, whose name was taken off the primary ballot, forcing him to launch a write-in campaign due to a filing error, collected 52 percent of the votes to Napoleon’s 32 percent.
Overall, the race has been “dead quiet” compared to previous mayoral races, said political analyst Steve Hood. He predicts a low turnout because of Detroit’s bankruptcy and emergency manager, and uncertainty over the role of the new mayor. The candidates themselves have been low-key also, he said.
“Usually by this time you’d see a flurry of ads back and forth but you really don’t (this election),” Hood said. “It’s an odd mayoral race.”
Duggan said there's no shortage of activity. He’s knocked on at least 80,000 doors, hit churches each Sunday and gone to senior centers.
“I’ve been running a positive campaign. That attracts the attention of the voters, (but) it doesn't necessarily attract the ink from (the media),” Duggan said. “I’m doing eight events a day. There’s no shortage of activity or interest out here. We’re going into neighborhoods. It’s been an extremely active campaign.”
Napoleon this month unveiled his plan to transform neighborhoods “one square mile at a time” by forming public-private partnerships for the creation of public safety service centers. He’s also campaigned to put one police officer on patrol in every square mile of Detroit.
Bill Ballenger, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter in Lansing, recently said Napoleon hadn’t done enough to publicize his plans.
“His campaign has been completely lackluster,” Ballenger said. “I think he could have taken the high road or the low road and he didn’t take either. He took an exit off the highway on a ramp to nowhere.”
One issue for the lack of ads may be money. Duggan’s campaign has raised at least $2.6 million, including $1.4 million from Turnaround Detroit, a super political action committee supporting him. Napoleon’s campaign has raised at least $725,000, including $125,000 from the Detroit Forward super PAC.
Last month Detroit Forward and the Detroit-based Perkins Law Group filed a complaint against Turnaround Detroit with the Michigan Elections Bureau. They claimed Turnaround Detroit was registered in the classification of a “political committee type PAC,” which has tougher rules concerning disclosures and donation limits. Turnaround Detroit was granted an extension to respond this month. It now must respond by Oct. 29 — one week before the primary election.