Bankole: Stakes go higher in Michigan AG race
How Flint continues to recover legally will fall to the next attorney general after the current criminal and civil investigation into the Flint water crisis.
How Michigan State University and other public institutions ensure that their campuses are free of sexual predators, and end a culture that seems to encourage impunity for sexual harassment behaviors will fall to the next attorney general.
Whether the state should comply with future demands from the federal government to cooperate with them on hot button issues like the rapid changes in immigration, health care, and affirmative action will be a decision for the next attorney general.
These are issues that have largely defined the governor’s race, but they are also part of the responsibilities of whoever becomes attorney general of Michigan next year.
Given how incumbent Bill Schuette, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, has espoused the power of that office — whether right or wrong — the stakes are even higher for whoever succeeds him.
And Democrats seem to think that they have a shot at the office because of all the things they can blame on Schuette.
The candidacy of Dana Nessel, a political outsider who shocked the party establishment by winning the nomination, is still giving some party supporters heartburn. They have not gotten over how she won and are still puzzling over the tactics she used to galvanize support at the state convention. Her nomination guaranteed the all-white statewide ticket because she defeated Pat Miles, the only African-American candidate who had a real shot at the nomination.
Her use of the word “penis” to grab instant political attention hasn’t settled well with many in a state where you need men to win a statewide election.
That, among other things, is the reason why despite winning the nomination, her candidacy remains an open question.
The question now is whether a strong independent candidate is what that office needs. It has grave implications because an independent could take votes away from the Democratic candidate.
But do you seriously entertain the idea of an independent candidate if the individual has support from the likes of Barbara McQuade, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, who is viewed as a star in Democratic circles?
“Chris knows that the best way to lead is to listen to people and respond to their needs. He will bring that same experience and vision to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office,” McQuade said of Chris Graveline, who recently launched an independent campaign for attorney general.
Graveline was an assistant U.S. Attorney under McQuade and headed the violent crime unit. He stepped down last month. But his resume reads like a prosecutor based at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. He prosecuted the prisoner abuse in the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, which marked one of the lowest points in U.S. human rights history.
“Chris Graveline is unlikely to obtain enough signatures to get on the ballot, and we do not consider him a legitimate threat to Dana,” Mike McCurdy, a top surrogate to Nessel, told me.
Graveline must collect 30,000 signatures by July 19 to secure a spot on the November ballot.
Graveline told me last week that he can garner enough support to qualify for the ballot.
His beef with Schuette?
He doesn’t like the way Schuette has run that office. For example, he believes an outside independent counsel should be leading the probe into the Flint public health scandal. He can’t reconcile how the AG’s office which advises the state on legal matters as part of its primary role can be prosecuting a case like Flint where the state is a witness.
“Nowhere in that job description does it mention engaging in partisan political squabbles through lawsuit, advancing either political party’s interests, hiring based upon political affiliation or positioning oneself for an eventual run for governor,” Graveline said about the role of the AG. “Unfortunately, both parties tend to view this office with one or more of these motives in mind.”
He said he wants to “ensure decisions are made with a view toward an even-handed application of the law to the facts that ensures the rights of all citizens independent of any political considerations.”
What direction the office takes under the next AG matters.
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