August 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Michigan Democrats show unity after hard-fought primary

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, left, hugs Wayne County Executive Democratic candidate Warren Evans before the Michigan Democratic Party unity breakfast at Wayne State University on Wednesday. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)

Detroit— Top Michigan Democrats on Wednesday sought to show they are unified for the fall general election against their Republican adversaries after some bruising and hard-fought Democratic primaries in Metro Detroit.

Gubernatorial hopeful Mark Schauer and U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters were joined by the rest of the statewide ticket and winners in Tuesday’s primary at a Michigan Democratic Party unity breakfast at Wayne State University.

Party leaders say electing Schauer over incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and helping Peters prevail over former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land depends heavily on turning out voters who stayed home in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Democrats are targeting about 995,000 registered voters who have a history of voting for Democratic candidates in the 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2012 elections, but did not show up to the polls in 2010 when Snyder sailed to victory over Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

“It’s simple arithmetic: There are way more of us than there are of them,” said U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, who cruised to victory Tuesday night over the Rev. Horace Sheffield of Detroit.

Schauer, a former one-term congressman from Battle Creek, had a more terse strategy for denying Snyder a second term by focusing on the incumbent’s actions in office, from imposing income taxes on most pensions to signing a right-to-work law.

“There are more of us than them, and we’re pissed and we’re going to vote,” Schauer told Democratic activists and leaders gathered at Wayne State University.

State and national Republicans have already been vigorously defending Snyder’s efforts to turn around Michigan’s economy, balance the state budget and intervene in Detroit’s financial crisis.

The Republican Governor’s Association late Tuesday renewed its attacks on Schauer’s record in the state Legislature and Congress, where he lost re-election in 2010 to Republican Tim Walberg.

“Mark Schauer’s record is clear: higher unemployment, wasteful spending, higher taxes, and support of the failed policies that led to Michigan’s lost decade,” RGA Executive Director Phil Cox said in a statement. “Voters have rejected Schauer’s out-of-touch agenda before and will do so again this November.”

Schauer’s running mate is Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown. Kalamazoo attorney Mark Totten is the Democratic Party’s likely nominee for attorney general, and Detroit attorney Godfrey Dillard is mounting a campaign for secretary of state.

Schauer called the ticket a “dream team of Democratic candidates.”

“We are neck and neck in the polls, and we are just getting started,” Schauer said of his race against Snyder, who still leads in most polls.

Neither Schauer nor Snyder had an opponent in Tuesday’s primary.

Schauer used the nominating election to renew his call for meeting the governor on stage for a series of debates this fall.

Snyder suggested Wednesday he’s open to at least one debate.

“We’ll get into the debate thing,” Snyder told reporters at an automotive conference in Acme, Mich. “I’ve not said much on it, but the Detroit Economic Club has traditionally been a great forum to have a discussion.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy kicked off the event by trying to convince adversaries in Tuesday’s primaries to move on from the electoral mudslinging that was prevalent in contests for Congress, county executive and the state Legislature.

“If some hurt your feelings during the campaign forget about it,” Worthy said. “...And if someone hastily filed a lawsuit against you, forget about it. Why? Because we are the Democrats. We’re the good guys. We’re the forward thinkers.”
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Detroit News Staff Writer Michael Martinez contributed.