Haberman enters Dem race to try to win Trott’s seat

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Birmingham attorney and entrepreneur Dan Haberman this week launched his campaign for Congress, seeking the Democratic nomination and to ultimately succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dave Trott.

“I’m running because government has ceased in its ability to function,” Haberman said in an interview.

“My background outside of government as a regular citizen and small-business guy has been to effectuate change within government,” he added. “If I’m able to have that much success outside government … then I feel it really important to work to be inside government to be inside government and it get it functioning again.”

Haberman, 43, has not previously held public office but helped lead the statewide campaign to ban smoking in public spaces, which was signed into law in 2009.

He also successfully challenged the state law prohibiting alcohol sales on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and on Sunday mornings, arguing it was an unconstitutional. That change took effect in 2010.

“We hear a lot about complaining government regulation is bad,” Haberman said. “What I learned is bad regulation is bad and good protection is good.”

In his emotional campaign announcement video, Haber speaks about a bomb threat made against his daughters’ Jewish preschool and how the children were corralled into a gymnasium where parents’ couldn’t reach them temporarily.

“It’s crystal clear why this is happening now,” Haberman, who is Jewish, says before the video moves to footage of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally and a clip of President Donald Trump saying the media had treated the supremacists “unfairly.”

“People have a choice of how they’re going to contribute to make things better,” he says in the video. “The options are to be silent and do nothing, complain and do nothing, or stand up and fight back. And I think a lot of people are standing up and fighting back, and that’s where I find myself.”

Haberman’s grandparents started Haberman Fabrics. He graduated from the University of Michigan and Georgetown University Law School before returning to Michigan to serve as general counsel to his brother Jeremy’s live music venue, the Magic Bag. The pair also opened a lounge called The Bosco next door before Jeremy passed away in 2014.

Haberman left the hospitality industry for more family-friendly hours about five years ago when he opened a boutique co-working, space in Troy, Byte and Mortar Offices, which services more than 100 companies.

Trott, who is serving his second term, said last month he would not seek reelection in 2018. The open seat in Michigan’s 11th District has been rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report and other political handicappers.

On the Democratic side, two Democrats previously declared in the 11th District – Haley Stevens, former chief of staff to Obama’s Auto Task Force, and Fayrouz Saad, Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs.

“I think that you’re seeing that more Democrats are trying to work the business outsider perspective, given the success of Donald trump,” said Susan Demas of Inside Michigan Politics, offering another example in Ann Arbor entrepreneur and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar.

Demas said the test for Haberman will be whether he can prove a serious candidate through fund-raising and boosting his name recognition in the district.

“Obviously, a lot of people don’t know him, and there’s already two Democratic candidates who have been in the race for some time,” she said. “So he has burden of explaining the need to run and why he wasn’t running before when there was an incumbent in the race.”