August 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

Political insider: Anonymous Internet ads attack Ficano ahead of vote

A handmade sign in western Oakland County blames state Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, for Michigan's expansion of the Medicaid health care program for the poor. )

A mystery remains about vicious attack ads in the aftermath of the highly contested race for Wayne County executive.

Warren Evans, the former Wayne County sheriff, beat incumbent Robert Ficano, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, state Rep. Phil Cavanagh and Commissioner Kevin McNamara on Tuesday.

About a week ago, two ads surfaced. One of the two professionally done Internet ads features a person playing a child molester saying he doesn’t worry about prosecution because of Ficano’s underfunding of the prosecutor’s office.

“Lucky for me, I have a friend in Bob Ficano,” the actor says in the video. “His budget cuts have decimated the ranks of the prosecution office to nearly half of what it used to be. That means there’s nobody there to handle cases like mine ... You can bet Bob Ficano’s got my vote.”

Wild and Evans’ campaign officials said they had no knowledge of the ads. Several well-known political consultants also said they didn’t know about them.

Through a spokeswoman, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she was aware of the ads, doesn't know who made them and had no comment. But Worthy has sparred with Ficano over budget issues for years and has sued on the issue.

In a February report on Fox 2, she used similar language as in the YouTube posts by saying “rapists, robbers and murderers have a good friend in Bob Ficano.”

Overstating their roles

Oakland County Republican Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake and Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township survived primary scares Tuesday night, fending off tea party challengers who attacked their votes for Medicaid expansion as an endorsement of “Obamacare.”

The Republican-controlled Legislature’s decision to add more than 325,000 low-income residents to Medicaid is funded through the Affordable Care Act and has angered some tea party conservatives.

In Kowall and Kesto’s districts in western Oakland County, handmade roadside signs were erected saying the incumbents “voted for Obamacare.”

Kesto’s chief rival, Deb O’Hagan, attempted to link his vote for Medicaid expansion to being friendly with President Barack Obama’s health care law — a charge Kesto blew off.

“They obviously think I work in Washington because they say I voted for Obamacare,” Kesto told The News last month.

Raising a stink, not votes

Handmade signs were a common sight in the areas of Milford, Highland and White Lake townships on primary election day.

Little-known White Lake Township resident Richard Garlick sought the Republican nomination in a crowded four-person primary in the House’s 44th District.

To get voters’ attention, Garlick played to their palettes — or maybe it was their senses. His campaign attached printed campaign signs to large plywood cutouts of garlic cloves that said, “Everything is better with Garlick.”

That may be so, but Garlick finished last in the primary with 8 percent of the vote.

It proves garlic wards off Michigan mosquitoes in August ... and votes for Richard Garlick.

Debating the debate question

Now that the primaries are over, attention turns to the perennial debate about how many debates the gubernatorial candidates should have.

Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, the former one-term congressman from Battle Creek, naturally wants to meet Gov. Rick Snyder in a series of debates this fall to gain more exposure before voters. 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.”

The economic club format usually allows for little interplay between the candidates except answering vetted questions from the audience and is sometimes viewed as favorable to Republicans because of the club’s business orientation — something former computer executive Snyder would enjoy.

Advice to salve the savaged ego

Michigan Democrats held a unity breakfast Wednesday on the Wayne State University’s Detroit campus in a bid to dissipate any ill will from Tuesday’s primary elections.

Some hostility was generated in at least one state Senate race — the District 5 contest covering parts of Detroit and suburban Wayne County — with racial politics, personal attacks and a legal challenge of absentee votes in Dearborn Heights that a Wayne County Circuit judge dismissed Wednesday as without any merit.

Leave it to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is known not to mince words about political foes, to give some calming advice.

“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.”

Contributors: Steve Pardo and Chad Livengood

A sign bolsters the state House District 44 campaign of veteran Mike ... (Photos by Chad Livengood / The Detroit News)