Duggan, Young set to meet in Detroit mayor fall contest
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan generated far more support from the city's voters than state Sen. Coleman Young II in Tuesday's primary, setting up a highly anticipated match-up for the fall general election that puts Young at a serious disadvantage.
Duggan led Young 68 percent to 27 percent with all precincts reporting, far ahead of the six other candidates. Write-in candidates received 2.3 percent of the vote, trailed next at almost 1 percent by first-time candidate Donna Marie Pitts, who has multiple felony convictions dating to 1977 for offenses including firearm charges and assault, according to court records in Wayne and Oakland counties.
Duggan did well in a primary that attracted a low 12.9 percent of the city's registered voters, down from the 17 percent in the 2013 primary.
The mayor late Tuesday commended residents and his campaign team.
“Thank you, Detroit,” Duggan told a packed crowd at the Hotel St. Regis in the New Center area. “I saw the numbers come in and it was just overwhelming.”
The campaign, Duggan said, has covered more than 50,000 phone calls and the team knocked on more than 100,000 doors.
“We ran an old-fashioned campaign. No TV, no radio,” he said. “We won it in the streets.”
Young campaign manager Adolph Mongo remained confident his candidate will be competitive in the fall.
Coleman Young II celebrates at his campaign rally with supporter at the Double Tree Hotel in Detroit on Tuesday August 8, 2017. Max Ortiz
"All we wanted to do was get to the finals and that's what we did," Mongo said Tuesday night. "We feel real good and got folks who are going to come out in November."
Detroit political consultant Steve Hood, a radio talk show host on 910AM Superstation, said Young needs to generate more than 38 percent of the vote Tuesday to give himself a better shot at upsetting Duggan in the Nov. 7 general election.
"That would have put him within striking distance of Duggan. Anything below 38 percent is not a victory for him,” Hood told The News. “Still, it’s an impressive showing for the amount of money he had. But if it’s below 38 percent he’s not even competitive in the general.”
Young raised $22,000 to Duggan's $1.6 million, although Mongo said Young's name — the same as his father's, the city's first black mayor — was worth $2 million.
Young’s campaign has repeatedly said that the real race begins Wednesday after the primary, and that’s when efforts will ramp up.
Duggan said he won’t stop working on the campaign trail.
“While the election results are strong tonight, everyone who knows me knows this: We’re not taking anything for granted,” he said.
Duggan has kept up a busy schedule of public events in the past few months — from park openings to summer employment fairs to proposed housing developments. The 59-year-old mayor and former Detroit Medical Center chief executive has mostly touted his accomplishments in office and the fledgling comeback of the city.
Mayor Mike Duggan on the future of Detroit Robin Buckson / The Detroit News
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who was Duggan’s opponent in 2013, said the mayor has made multiple improvements in blight, crime reduction and quality of life improvements.
“Today is a very important day,” Napoleon said. “It’s the first step in continuing the progress that this great city is making.”
Many voters cited the progress as the reason they supported Duggan.
“I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fit it. Leave him in there,” said Leonard Burrett, 68, as he left the Samuel Gompers Middle-Elementary School in northwest Detroit. “Keep Duggan. He’s doing a good job, I think, so don’t change it.”
He’s also collected endorsements from prominent labor groups including AFSCME and AFL-CIO, clergy and 24 former cabinet members and appointees of Young’s father, who was Detroit’s longest-serving mayor.
Most recently, the influential political arm of the Shrine of the Black Madonna, the Black Slate Inc., endorsed Duggan after supporting the 34-year-old Young's father in his five runs for mayor. The Black Slate was out at the polls Tuesday campaigning for Duggan, as were supporters of the Fanny Lou Hamer political action committee. Many precincts had no literature being distributed on Young’s behalf.
“The mayor is working hard to bring the city back and we can’t afford to start all over again,” the Rev. Baye Landy, the Slate’s regional coordinator, said during a news conference last Wednesday.
Young has kept out of the limelight, relying on his father’s reputation and few press events — most recently to unveil a city revitalization plan that threatens to sue state government to reverse longstanding policies. The 34-year-old politician had raised $22,000 to Duggan’s $1.6 million in the latest campaign finance filing.
The disparity also was evident at Tuesday night's election parties. The Duggan campaign reported that about 1,000 people sent in reservations for the Hotels St. Regis event in the New Center area, while Young's party at the bar at the Fort Shelby Double Tree hotel downtown attracted about 50 people.
Young said he has been going door-to-door, promoting his message of fighting water shutoffs and higher auto insurance rates on social media, in the community and senior homes. His supporters like what they hear.
“Coleman Young is the best symbol for the neighborhoods,” said the Rev. David Bullock after casting his ballot at Bethel AME Church on St. Antoine.
Bullock said the Duggan administration hasn’t delivered on things that have been promised, including more affordable car insurance rates, curbing crime or stemming the city’s population loss.
Young, he said, is in touch with the “ordinary citizens in the city of Detroit.”
But Frank Gates, who backed a write-in candidate, wasn’t impressed.
“Don’t come to me because your daddy did something,” said Gates, 66, who lives on the city’s northwest side. “Show me something. And he ain’t shown me nothing.”
Mark Loeb, 57, voted for Duggan and has “mixed feelings” about Coleman A. Young’s legacy.
“I was doing a lot of work at Cobo Hall back in the Coleman Young days,” Loeb said. “...There were some great things going on, and then there were some things that felt unclean. And I don’t know anything about the son, really.”
On Monday, the Young campaign renewed its call to have a special prosecutor investigate the Detroit Land Bank Authority’s programs.
The land bank’s demolition program, the centerpiece of Duggan’s blight-fighting efforts, came under scrutiny in 2015 in the wake of rising costs and bidding concerns. The program is currently the focus of a federal criminal investigation.
“Rest assured, I will not sell out Detroit as Mike Duggan has,” Young said.
Others on the ballot included Edward Dean, a 40-year-old single father who founded the Avengers Youth Mentoring Organization for children. His campaign has focused on economic development, affordable housing and reducing crime.
Articia Bomer, 45, has been pushing for tax reform, better services for Detroit’s homeless and seniors and tougher penalties for bad landlords.
Another candidate is Danetta L. Simpson, a 46-year-old former salon owner who has made past bids for state representative, Detroit’s school board and the City Council.
Curtis Christopher Greene, 32, is an author and activist touting a seven-point plan to rebuild Detroit.
Angelo Brown, 54, is a retired pastor and southwest Detroit resident who said he is concerned with neighborhoods and offering community workshops on anger management, substance abuse and crime prevention.