Monday, August 20, 2007

Clueless in Lansing

Now, I realize that this could be a fitting title for all kinds of topics, but this particular post is focused on the Lansing State Journal's Capitol Journal blog.

Last week, there was a head-scratching post by LSJ reporter Derek Wallbank, Who can run with Rogers? One man can. (Let's not be nit-picky and point out that a challenger runs against an incumbent, rather than with him...)

Wallbank muses about possible Rogers challenges from Gretchen Whitmer, Joan Bauer, Mark Meadows, Virg Bernero, Diane Byrum, Barb Byrum and/or First Gentleman Dan Mulhern. His fave, though is the (also possible) candidacy of Sam Singh:
But one high-flyer just had all his obstacles removed. He just stepped down from the state-wide non-profit advocacy group he founded and is serving out his last few months as East Lansing mayor, after publicly declining to run again. I'm talking about Sam Singh, the unquestioned number-one Democratic threat to de-throne Rogers.
Just to be clear, I will happily support the Deomcratic challenger to Rogers, whoever he or she may be.

But before zooming over to file with the Secretary of State's office, a potential candidate should be very clear about the need to raise serious money. This clarity ain't coming from Wallbank, who blithely notes:

There is no doubt that he'd be able to raise the money necessary to give Rogers a run for his money.
Oh, really?

Let's review a few salient points:

1.) As of June 30, 2007, Mike Rogers had $491,383 cash on hand, which places him a little more than halfway between MI-07's Walberg ($240,784) and MI-09's Knollenberg ($600,775), the two districts that the Michigan Democratic Party considers most competitive. (Figures from CQ

2.) Jim Marcinkowski, Rogers' opponent in 2006, raised $552,157 -- the most raised by any Rogers challenger to date -- and he was still outspent by Rogers at $1,863,914. (figures from

3.) MI-08 is a BIG district: it includes all or part of five different counties, and is covered by three different media markets. Bottom line? Even without a well-funded incumbent, it will take a significant chunk of change to win this district.

Continuing on with his heroic efforts to win the Cognitive Dissonance Award, Wallbank touts the Capitol Journal ratings system, which "mirrors several national systems." (No names mentioned, just in case you were wondering about methodology.) Right now, the Capitol Journal rates MI-08 "Safe Incumbent," defined as

A safe incumbent is one who has either a dominant history in past elections, has no declared major party challenger or has a sizable edge in both fundraising and the polls over their challenger. This person would not lose the election unless a major electoral wave swept them out.

Yet according to Wallbank, "... if Singh runs, it will be time to update the race forecast. Rogers won't be a "safe incumbent" anymore."


If this seems a bit confusing, you should remember that the Lansing State Journal is the paper whose Gannett-lovin' editor Leslie J. Hurst not only spiked the 5 - 1 majority editorial board vote to endorse Jim Marcinkowski in 2006, but threw in her own dollop of nastiness and misinformation in the non-endorsement that eventually ran, precipitating the resignation of an editorial board member.

The Lansing State Journal is the largest newspaper in the district. It's a shame that instead of reporting on politics, they like to play politics...

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