Political Insider: Little action on Senate debate

Detroit News staff

A week ago, Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land’s campaign unexpectedly announced the former secretary of state was ready to debate Democrat Gary Peters on WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) in October — after a month of dodging questions about debates.

Land’s campaign said it had tapped Republican barrister Richard McLellan to negotiate the terms of a single debate with Peters’ debate negotiator, former Lt. Gov. John Cherry. Land’s campaign said it wanted WXYZ’s Chuck Stokes to moderate the televised debate.

One week later, Cherry says he has not yet heard from McLellan, anyone from Land’s campaign or Stokes.

“We haven’t heard a thing,” Cherry told the Insider on Wednesday. “My guess is they were just feeling the heat so they thought they needed to say something.

Cherry, a veteran of state government, senses the Land campaign is taking a slow walk to the debate negotiation table.

The usually outspoken McLellan declined to comment and referred all questions to the Land campaign.

Land spokeswoman Heather Swift had a one-sentence response: “Details are still being worked out with WXYZ.”

Cherry said it’s imperative that the two candidates share a stage and answer questions.

“This is an election for a person who is going to represent Michigan in the most deliberative body in the world, a body known for debating,” Cherry said of the filibuster-prone U.S. Senate. “Either you want to be part of the most deliberative body in the world or you don’t. And it sounds to me like she’s not interested.”

Cosmo says vote for Peters

With 40 days to go until Election Day, there’s usually a blizzard of endorsements, but one glossy-paged support of a congressional candidate caught The Insider’s eye.

On Tuesday, the editors of Cosmopolitan magazine endorsed Peters over Land in the Senate race. This is the first year Cosmo has endorsed congressional candidates. Peters is the second man to get the women’s magazine’s support (the first was Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado).

Calling Peters “an easy pick for the U.S. Senate,” Cosmo’s endorsement mostly centered on Peters’ support for abortion rights, Land’s opposition to terminating a pregnancy and statements Land has made about pay for working mothers with children.

“He could just be another cog in the congressional machine,” Cosmo’s editors wrote. “Instead, he’s led on the issues that improve women’s health and financial lives, that help more students go to school, and that move us toward fair treatment for lesbian and gay Americans.”

‘Look for a contrast’

As The Detroit News reported Monday night, Gov. Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer will face off Oct. 12 in a town hall-style debate that Detroit Public Television will broadcast at 6 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to a town hall in front of the citizens of Michigan where they can ask great questions. Because, again, that’s who I work for and I want to answer those questions,” Snyder said Wednesday after a veterans event in Lansing.

For whatever reason, Snyder’s campaign doesn’t want to call it a debate. But make no mistake: The two men will likely debate facts, figures and the incumbent’s policies.

“It’s a chance to look for a contrast,” Snyder told reporters.

Snyder’s campaign continues to insinuate Schauer won’t be able to keep up with the governor, who used town hall meetings as a hallmark of his 2010 campaign.

“Will our opponent have a vision or plan to present? Will he be able to hold his own against Michigan’s top nerd? [Spoiler: No.],” Snyder press secretary Emily Benavides wrote Tuesday in a daily memo to reporters.

The free-flowing format will allow Snyder and Schauer to take questions from the audience as well as Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley and his counterpart at the Detroit Free Press, Stephen Henderson.

Organizers of the event said it would be similar in format to the 2012 town hall forum President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney participated in before a live audience at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

And who could forget Romney’s memorable and awkward choice of words in describing how he sought female applicants to be part of his cabinet in The Bay State?

“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ and they brought us whole binders full of women,” Romney said.

Romney, a Bloomfield Hills native, will be back in Michigan Oct. 2 to help fire up Republicans at a rally in Livonia.

Contributors: Chad Livengood