Former Vice President Joe Biden voiced a last-minute robocall for a Democratic state House candidate on Monday and later championed her Tuesday night victory as part of a “resounding defeat” for Republican candidates across the country due to the unpopularity of President Donald Trump.
Marquette City Commissioner Sara Cambensy won the 109th District special election over Republican Rich Rossway by 22 percentage points, according to unofficial results from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Her margin of victory was smaller than the 28-point win the late state Rep. John Kivela scored in 2016, but Republicans had pumped money into the race this year after Trump managed to win the district last fall. Democrats, who have held the seat since the 1950s, also poured resources into the race.
Biden gave Cambensy a boost in a robocall that went out the day before the election, telling local voters she “works for the people, not special interests” and would fight for them in Lansing.
Biden on Tuesday night congratulated Cambensy and other Democrats who won races across the country, including Ralph Northam of Virginia who won his state’s governor race over Republican Ed Gillespie.
“Voters around the country rejected the ugly politics we have seen this past year,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Instead, they chose candidates who unite and inspire us.”
Committee leaders give $75 to GOP
Two board members behind a purported nonpartisan effort to end political “gerrymandering” in Michigan contributed a combined $75 to Republicans this fall after The Detroit News reported on organizers’ past contributions to Democrats.
Voters Not Politicians committee President Katie Fahey gave $25 to Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Oct. 6, according to an email receipt provided by the campaign, which noted the former GOP presidential candidate supports redistricting reform.
Fundraising Director Kevin Lignell donated $25 to West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, on Sept. 1 and $25 to 40th District state House candidate Joe Zane on Nov. 3.
The donation to Amash came one day after The News reported that seven of 10 board members had given at least $5,649 to Democratic candidates and causes since 2005, according state and federal campaign finance records compiled by the Michigan Freedom Fund conservative advocacy group.
The new GOP contributions have not yet appeared in public records because they were made after the most recent reporting deadlines or did not meet the federal threshold requiring itemization by candidate committees.
But the ballot campaign highlighted the donations in an email to The Detroit News after a report on mounting opposition from critics like the Michigan Republican Party, which argues the group has partisan motivations and is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing by Democrats who cannot win at the ballot box.”
Supporters say they are not affiliated with the Democratic Party but are not surprised by opposition from Republicans, arguing the current system allowing the majority party to redraw political boundaries has helped the GOP grow outsized advantages in Washington, D.C., and Lansing.
“It is clear that the power of the entire state GOP has been put to use to attack any effort to overcome dramatic state gerrymandering that has made it possible for one party to win 50 percent of the vote and 65 percent or more of the legislative seats in the state,” the campaign said.
The Voters Not Politicians petition would amend the state Constitution to create a 13-member redistricting commission with four members who self-identify as Democrats, four as Republicans and five others who are “non-affiliated” and independent.
Levin endorses Miles for AG
Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin is wading into the race for the 2018 Democratic nomination for Michigan attorney general, urging party activists to pick former U.S. Attorney Pat Miles for the job.
The 83-year-old Detroit Democrat endorsed Miles last Thursday. In a statement released by the campaign, Levin said Miles’ “experience and integrity put him in the best position” to win the race to replace term-limited Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is running for governor.
Miles’ competition for the Democratic nomination includes Dana Nessel, an attorney best known for representing a same-sex couple in a case that helped overturn gay marriage bans in Michigan and the other states. William Noakes of Detroit has filed paperwork for a run, and state Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren is considering a campaign.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans also endorsed Miles this week after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy previously endorsed Nessel.
“Pat is passionate about the right things that make the Attorney General’s office so important,” Levin said, “including bringing the consumers-advocate spirit of Frank Kelley to Lansing.”
Stabenow joins call for opioid money
Sen. Debbie Stabenow is joining 22 other U.S. senators calling on President Donald Trump to dedicate more funding to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Stabenow was one of 23 senators to sign a letter sent to Trump on Wednesday, praising the Republican president for declaring the epidemic a national public health emergency. But the Democratic senators also urged Trump to allocate more money to the problem.
The group letter said the senators are concerned that Trump’s declaration “does not yet include any additional funding resources for key programs and initiatives that will help our patients, providers, first responders and researchers who desparately need more assistance.”
The declaration allows the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services to spend money on such programs, but only $57,000 is available in an emergency federal fund available, according to the letter.
Senators wrote Trump that in 2013, it cost $78 billion to treat prescription opioid abuse and overdoses nationwide. About $28.9 billion of that covered treatment, the letter said.
Upon ordering the emergency declaration, Trump said the U.S. is “dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history” and that “addressing it will require all of our effort.”
Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein