Mailer compares Patterson, Trump, things they’ve said

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson finds himself and presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the cross-hairs of a political flier from the Oakland County Democratic Party.

Asking “Are You Embarrassed Yet?” on one side and “You Should Be” on the other, the 6-by-11-inch red, black and white flier was sent out to an unknown number of voters this past week. Black and white photos depict a scowling Patterson and an open-mouthed Trump, accompanied by inflammatory quotes both have allegedly made over the past four years.

The fliers say they are paid for by the county Democratic Party and are not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

“We don’t divulge specifics — the cost, the numbers mailed or even where they were sent,” Democratic party chairman Frank Houston said Monday.

“We think it is important for voters to keep in mind how close these two are. Brooks Patterson is insensitive to many voters and they should keep that in mind.

“He’s the county’s original Donald Trump.”

Patterson, 77, is seeking his seventh term as the county’s top elected official and traditionally has been returned to office by a wide margin. But county Democrats are again banking Patterson can be defeated. Former state representative and Farmington Hills Mayor Vicki Barnett won August’s Democratic primary for the right to take on Patterson in the Nov. 8 general election.

Susan J. Demas, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, noted Patterson has “never been shy” about speaking his mind, and found the flier “a pretty powerful piece using Patterson’s (and Trump’s) words against him.”

Among them:

■From a June 2015 New Yorker magazine interview: “What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into a big Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.”

■On possible re-election from the same New Yorker piece: “I’ll keep getting elected until I’m caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman.”

■From an August 2016 Michigan Matters appearance on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico: “China built a wall 2000 years ago. In Beijing, they don’t have any Mexicans, so it’s working.”

Trump quotes include Mexicans here illegally as being violent criminals; a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and his famous boast on CNN: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

“The Democrats know Trump is a big drag on Republicans in Oakland County,” Demas said. “And even though Brooks is an institution, the county is much more progressive and diverse than it was when he was first elected in 1992.

“We’ll have to see how much Barnett and the Democrats are willing to spend to push the message that Brooks is out of step with today’s Oakland County. It will definitely take more than one mail piece to get this to resonate.”

Patterson, who declined to comment, received the flier at his Clarkston-area address and “got a good laugh out of it,” according to his spokesman, William Mullan.

“Under County Executive Patterson, Oakland County has a balanced budget through 2021, has held a AAA bond rating since 1998, and has reached full employment in no small part because of his Emerging Sector jobs initiative,” Mullan said. “ ‘Embarrassed yet?’ The Oakland County Democrats are so devoid of ideas that they have chosen the low road. Since they learned in the past that committing crimes can’t win elections, it appears they are resorting to all they have left — baseless personal attacks.”

Mullan was making reference to two former officials in the county Democratic party being convicted of falsifying names on nominating petitions in 2010. He noted Patterson’s quotes in the flier may be accurate but were largely “taken way out of context.”

“The one concerning turning Detroit into an Indian reservation was not his view today but thoughts he originally expressed more than 40 years ago about his assessment of what Democratic leadership back then was doing to the citizens of Detroit,” Mullan said. “The other quotes are tongue-in-cheek. Anyone who knows Brooks knows that’s part of his character.”


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