Mich. House OKs dead lawmaker’s bill in vote of unity
The Michigan House honored Rep. John Kivela with a bipartisan vote on Tuesday, one week after the Marquette Democrat who struggled with alcoholism committed suicide following a second drunk driving arrest.
Back in session for the first time since his death and weekend funeral, the House unanimously approved a Kivela deer hunting bill designed to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease.
Each one of Kivela’s colleagues – Republicans and Democrats alike – then signed on as co-sponsors to what Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway, called a “truly good bill” that deserved broad support.
Rep. Robert Kosowski, a Westland Democrat and former Kivela roommate, praised House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, as a “class act” for making the bill the only official measure on Tuesday’s agenda.
“I think today was the greatest gesture of all time by the speaker of the House of the other party just to stand up and do something for John,” Kosowski told reporters after the vote. “The one thing about John is nobody ever hated him, nobody disliked him. Nobody was ever even mad at him.”
But Kosowski is mad at him now, he acknowledged, because his friend is gone.
“I cried the whole weekend up at the funeral,” he said. “I cried the whole time. Today, I just want to punch him. I’m so mad at him that he did this.”
Young silent online
State Sen. Coleman A. Young II is known for being an outspoken lawmaker in a chamber where Democrats are a distinct minority.
On most controversial issues, Young will take the floor to make impassioned and colorfully worded arguments against Republican-supported legislation. The 34-year-old Detroit Democrat is hardly a shrinking flower.
So it may surprise constituents to learn that the senator hasn’t tweeted at all for the first four and a half months of 2017. The social media silence is all the more surprising since Young is mounting a primary challenge to well-financed Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Young’s last tweet was in response a Detroit News reporter’s Dec. 6, 2016, tweet that Michigan House Republicans were backing off an attempt to push public-sector retiree health reforms after protests by police officers and firefighters.
He tweeted: “A victory for the people. We need to keep the pressure up and use our voices to fight for a secure retirement for our teachers.”
GOP could loose seat
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report this month shifted the election forecasts for 20 U.S. House districts, including one in Michigan, to reflect “enhanced opportunities” for Democrats following approval of the unpopular GOP health care overhaul bill.
Among the members downgraded was U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, whose 8th District shifted from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican.”
“This Lansing district leans Republican overall, but gave President Trump his second closest margin of the nine GOP-controlled districts in the state,” Cook’s House editor David Wasserman wrote.
“Bishop took 56 percent last year, but Democrats insist that the sophomore incumbent’s support is soft. Democrats are eyeing someone with national security credentials in the mold of former Rep. Mike Rogers, but the seat would only come into play in a big wave.”
Wasserman’s major caveat is that the next congressional election isn’t for 18 months – “an eternity in politics.”
Democrats are buzzing about Elissa Slotkin as a prospective candidate. She recently moved back to Michigan after working in Washington – most recently as the principal adviser under two secretaries of defense on the Middle East, Europe and NATO, Russia, Africa and the Western Hemisphere.
Her resume includes time in Iraq with the Central Intelligence Agency and working for the National Security Council and the U.S. State Department during the Obama administration.
Slotkin said on Facebook this month that she’s “seriously considering” a run against Bishop and that his vote for the health care bill “only strengthened my resolve to get in.”
Squier to challenge Stabenow
Independent candidate Marcia Squier said this week she intends to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, who is seeking a fourth term next year.
Squier ran as Green Party candidate against U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence last year, earning about 3,800 votes, or 1.24 percent of the vote in the 14th Congressional District. Lawrence, a Southfield Democrat, won a second term with 78.5 percent of the vote.
No Republicans have publicly declared their intent to run against Stabenow, but Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, the senior Republican in Michigan's congressional delegation, is considering a run.
Contributors: Jonathan Oosting, Richard Burr and Melissa Nann Burke