As the primaries approach, we are in the internal rebellion stage among Democrats and Republicans, though 2018 seems to have sparked intra-party warfare beyond past actions.
One of the state’s largest Democratic clubs today went so far as to issue an anti-endorsement against gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar, urging fellow Dems to reject his candidacy and calling him “exceptionally unfit” for office.
On the Republican side, the internecine messiness is even more eye-opening as one of the GOP’s “bad boys” announced that he is endorsing a Democrat for one of the most competitive state Senate seats, according to MIRS news service. “Trucker Randy” Bishop said on his northern Michigan radio show the other day that he is backing state Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) over former Republican Rep. Ed McBroom of the Iron Mountain area.
Both candidates are considered among the most moderate members of their respective parties but Bishop, a highly controversial figure as the Antrim County GOP, said he tallied numerous House votes cast by the two and concluded that Dianda is the better choice.
To fully appreciate this development, Trucker Randy endorsing a Democrat is akin to Betsy DeVos declaring that she is becoming an honorary member of the MEA teachers’ union. It’s like Ted Nugent renouncing the NRA, joining the gun control crowd and becoming a vegetarian.
Trucker Randy developed a loyal following among hardcore tea party Republicans by bashing Democrats daily. True, his forte is shredding so-called RINOs, such as McBroom, but his aversion to the Democratic Party had been absolute.
In 2013, one of his devoted radio listeners suggested that he run as a Democrat to defeat an incumbent Republican senator in the Upper Peninsula who was deemed not sufficiently conservative. In Trucker Randy’s mind, filing for office as a Democrat would be an unspeakable offense.
“I could not. My God would not allow me to lie to the people of any Senate district to file an affidavit of identity as a Democrat. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he said at the time.
So, what brought about the conversion that led to the Dianda endorsement? Trucker Randy said it was McBroom’s votes for a gas tax increase and a hike in license plate fees (both designed to fund road improvements), the state’s Medicaid expansion program, and “inflated” budget bills. He said Dianda opposed all these measures and should be labeled a “fiscal conservative.”
I wonder, how does Dianda, as a Democrat, handle this unexpected backing from a guy who declared war on the state GOP a few years ago because he believes the party establishment is too liberal?
After all, Trucker Randy has a track record: A two-time felon when he lived in Macomb County; claims by critics that he is a bigot for supporting former Republican National Committee member Dave Agema of west Michigan, who was denounced nationally for racist and Islamophobic comments; and attempts by party activists to remove Bishop as Antrim County chair.
As for the anti-endorsement of Thanedar in the primary for governor, that action came from the Grosse Pointe Democrats, which is, believe it or not, apparently the largest local Democratic club in Michigan.
Some may say this is not a bold move after numerous negative news reports about Thanedar, including some indicating that the first-time candidate was undecided last year about whether to run as a Republican or a Democrat. Still, he is campaigning as the most progressive Democrat in the race and, after he spent millions of dollars on TV campaign ads, he has pulled within neck-and-neck poll status with longtime Democratic frontrunner Gretchen Whitmer.
In a statement, the Grosse Pointe Dems urged other Democratic clubs across the state to denounce the Thanedar candidacy and instead choose to back Whitmer or another newcomer, Abdul El-Sayad, who is battling for the most-progressive mantle.
“… It is the official position of the club that Thanedar is exceptionally unfit to serve as governor of Michigan due to moral and ethical reasons, and that his candidacy should not be taken seriously by voters.
The club felt obligated to speak out on Thanedar’s candidacy, being that recent poll numbers have shown Thanedar posing a real threat of winning the Democratic nomination for governor. The club believes that nominating Thanedar to be Michigan’s Democratic candidate for governor would be disastrous for both the Michigan Democratic Party, as well as the State of Michigan as a whole.”
We wait to see if Thanedar has a response. But if he wins the primary, a statement such as this would certainly make the GOP’s job much easier in maintaining the governor’s post in November.