Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said in a TV interview that the large field of liberal Democratic candidates for president offers no one who could carry Macomb County over Donald Trump in 2020.
A self-avowed “Purple Democrat,” Hackel said “I don’t believe there is” a candidate who could defeat the president in Macomb, the county widely credited for handing Trump his narrow 2016 win in Michigan.
In the interview this past weekend on Public Television’s “Off The Record,” the county executive said the Democrats need “more of a moderate candidate, someone who will push against their own party.” That was a reference to the top-tier candidates latching onto a left-wing agenda that would dramatically increase the role of the federal government.
Hackel did not comment on the two contenders who are considered the moderates: former vice president Joe Biden, who has not announced his candidacy, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who has. Those in the race carrying the liberal or “Democratic socialist” banner include Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Hackel has repeatedly irritated state party officials by criticizing some Democratic officials and praising some Republicans, including former governor Rick Snyder. In this interview he followed that path again, saying that the party needs a Democratic version of Trump, a candidate who generates excitement and goes against accepted political trends within the party.
The county executive recalled the pro-Trump frenzy at a Macomb campaign event two days before the 2016 election when a packed crowd attended a rally at Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights. “I have never seen such interest in a presidential candidate,” he said, “and that interest, believe it or not, is still there for Donald Trump.”
Several polls in 2018 showed support for Trump falling in Macomb and across the state but Hackel said he sees a repeat of 2016 if the Democrats nominate another unpopular candidate like Hillary Clinton.
“As I listened to Macomb County,” he said, “boy, I’m telling you, whether it was a blue-collar worker, a moderate, an independent, they were not happy with the Democratic candidate who was moving forward.”