Grosse Pointe businessman Sandy Pensler, a likely candidate for U.S. Senate in Michigan, is in the business of turning around businesses. And in the mid-1980s, he was trying help a struggling firm sell the New York Mets to future President Donald Trump.
The art of the deal proved elusive at the time.
“We had a little altercation over some stuff, but that’s all,” Pensler recounted last weekend during the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, where he was promoting his expected run for office.
Pensler, who now runs a private equity firm and owns four manufacturing plants, previously worked as a private investor and Wall Street financial adviser for the likes of Lehman Brothers and Blackstone.
Two decades ago, he was working with Doubleday, a publishing company that “had been in trouble” but “happened to own the Mets,” Pensler said.
“It was this jewel inside of Doubleday,” he said of the baseball team. “It was much better taken out of the publishing company.”
Trump didn’t end up buying the Mets. Instead, Nelson Doubleday Jr. reportedly sold his family publishing company and ended up buying a 50 percent stake in the Mets himself.
Despite his personal past with Trump, Pensler said he’s been “shockingly pleased” with the president’s policy proposals.
“I don’t always agree with his comportment necessarily, but I think his policies have been terrific,” Pensler said. “Not all of them. Nobody’s perfect.”
Chief slams attacks on cops
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said this week that growing “anti-police rhetoric” and attacks on police are a much bigger problem than what those on the left call systemic racism in the criminal justice system.
In an interview with The Detroit News, the African-American chief denounced Black Lives Matter activists and those who argue the criminal justice system is inherently racist. But Craig acknowledged a historical plethora of instances when African-Americans were not treated equally by police.
“I’m not saying that every time a police officer decides to use deadly force that it’s warranted,” he said.
But he rebuffs that the public and media don’t react to black cops shooting black suspects in the same way they do when a white cop shoots a black suspect. He said he thinks that, coupled with the fact that that police can’t always control the narrative when deadly force is used, can lead to inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
And Detroit, he says, is the “gold standard” for community-police relations.
“I mean, if you look across the country, there have been incident after incident, it’s historical, where police haven’t treated African-Americans well,” he said. “But if you’re looking for me tell you that I think, for example, in the Detroit Police Department we treat African-Americans negatively and this is promoting this anti-(police rhetoric), no, I will not agree with that. Absolutely not.”
Senate bid stays under radar
Bob Carr wants you to know he’s running for the U.S. Senate and is tired of being overlooked.
The historic preservationist was working with GOP activists at last weekend’s Mackinac confab. But more than two weeks after filing candidate paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, he remained too far below the radar to make paper ballots in an island straw poll.
“You can’t win a straw poll if you can’t get on it,” said Carr, 69, who lives on Mackinac Island.
Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young of Laingsburg topped the straw poll, conducted by MIRS and Crain’s Detroit Business, with 35.8 percent of the vote. Carr finished a distant sixth at 0.15 percent after his name was added to the digital version of the ballot.
Carr shares a name with Democratic former U.S. Rep. Bob Carr of Michigan, but has not actually served in Congress. He tried in 1996, when he won the Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District but lost to incumbent Democrat Bart Stupak in the general election.
While he enters the statewide Senate race as a long shot for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Carr maintains he’s ready for the fight.
“The candidates that are running are running on their ego, obviously,” he said. “I’m sorry guys, and if there’s gals, that’s not good enough. What are you doing for the state of Michigan? I don’t want to hear claims you’ll create jobs. A slogan is not good enough.”
Slotkin makes watch list
The NewDemPAC this week added a dozen pro-business Democratic candidates to its “watch list” that included Elissa Slotkin, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 8thDistrict and is hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.
The PAC says the list isn’t a formal endorsement. Slotkin of Holly is a former senior official at the U.S. Defense Department who advised two secretaries of defense on security and defense issues related to the Middle East, Europe, Russia, Africa and Latin America.
The Democratic primary in the 8th last week lost a candidate when Darlene Domanik, an environmental attorney from Brighton, withdrew after six months. Domanik said the reason was campaign finance.
“The only way this campaign can continue through the primary is if my husband Gary and I provide approximately $100,000 of our own savings to fund it, and we just cannot do that, given that I am retired and Gary expects to retire within the next year,” Domanik wrote in a Facebook post.
“While we were able to raise sufficient money to pay the bills initially, donations were not keeping pace with the rising monthly expenses. This was exacerbated by the emergence of other fine candidates seeking funds from the same pool of donors.”
Contributors: Jonathan Oosting, Michael Gerstein and Melissa Nann Burke