20 must-read Detroit News stories on Michigan politics this summer

Chad Livengood
The Detroit News

The Detroit News politics team pursues stories each day that bring readers in Michigan and beyond a thorough and fair report on candidates for public office and elected officials who control how your tax dollars are spent.

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Get to know what our political team has been working on, and read some of the top stories from this summer so far:

Detroit News political reporter Craig Mauger sat in Ralph Rebandt's living room to interview the Farmington Hills pastor making a long-shot bid for governor. He slid into a booth at Leo's Coney Island in Bloomfield Hills across from Kevin Rinke to talk tax policy with the wealthy businessman seeking to become the state's chief executive.

And when one of the Republican candidates for governor was arrested by the FBI, Craig was on the scene in Grand Rapids to capture the moment Ryan Kelley was arraigned in federal court on misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots. And the next morning, Craig explained to Detroit News readers what Kelley's arrest means for his political prospects.

From Washington, D.C., bureau chief Melissa Burke cultivated confidential sources to break stories about senior executives at Detroit's VA hospital being reassigned amid an internal investigation. This summer, she's documented hotly contested primaries that will ultimately decide who represents Michigan in Congress for the next two years.

When the nation's highest court struck down a half-century of abortion rights on June 24, national correspondent Riley Beggin was outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, sending dispatches, photos and video back to Detroit News readers in Michigan about the immediate reaction to the ruling.

And from The News' Lansing Bureau, political reporter Beth LeBlanc continues to break story after story about how the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency bungled jobless benefits for self-employed Michiganians during the pandemic.

Beth and Craig rode out an all-nighter on June 30 and into the early morning hours of July 1 in the state Capitol, documenting how Michigan lawmakers stuffed $1 billion of pork-barrel spending into a record-setting $76 billion state budget (Craig also covered a gubernatorial debate in Warren that night before returning to Lansing to keep an eye on the state Senate).

The news cycles are fast and fierce in Michigan politics. It's easy to have missed a story.

Here are 20 stories from The Detroit News this summer that you won't want to miss:

  1. Trump-DeVos ties loom over Michigan GOP primary races (by Craig Mauger)
  2. Longtime Republican powerbrokers team up to pour $410,000 into Michigan primary fights (by Craig Mauger and Beth LeBlanc)
  3. Outside groups spending millions to sway U.S. House race centered on Detroit (by Melissa Burke)
  4. Flint water crisis costs Michigan $53 million in legal bills so far. Here's how (by Beth LeBlanc)
  5. Flint residents push for cancer study, wonder about role of water crisis (by Kayla Ruble)
  6. False Trump electors plan was shrouded in secrecy, even for some electors in Michigan (by Craig Mauger and Melissa Burke)
  7. Sheriff's investigators used 'scare tactics' to grill Michigan clerks on election (by Craig Mauger)
  8. MSP used bomb squad to open Detroit area safe in voting machine probe (by Beth LeBlanc and Craig Mauger)
  9. Two Detroit VA hospital leaders being investigated by whistleblower office (by Melissa Burke and Beth LeBlanc) 
  10. What loss of Roe means for women who want abortions in Michigan (by Beth LeBlanc)
  11. Abortion ruling could spur 'political earthquake' ahead of pivotal Michigan election (by Craig Mauger)
  12. No confidence Black candidates can win in Michigan's redrawn districts, report says (by Beth LeBlanc)
  13. Stevens' claim of $100M returned for constituents includes big tax refund (by Melissa Burke)
  14. Whitmer's $9.5M cash haul boosted by celebrities, donors from every state (by Craig Mauger)
  15. $1.1B Soo Locks project could cost more than triple estimates (by Melissa Burke)
  16. Michigan's $76B budget targets 6 areas for major cash infusions (by Beth LeBlanc)
  17. Meijer seeks to survive Trump backlash in GOP primary (by Riley Beggin and Melissa Burke)
  18. Doc accused of using own sperm sparks effort to end Michigan's 'wild west' fertility clinics (by Beth LeBlanc)
  19. Livengood: One Republican's plan to tame high insulin prices? Government competition (by me)
  20. Livengood: What The News' poll revealed about Michigan Republican voters (by me)

That's just a sampling of original reporting this team does day-in and day-out.

If you've got ideas about what else we should be covering, please email me at clivengood@detroitnews.com.

Chad Livengood is the politics editor and a columnist at The Detroit News.