This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Deadline Detroit last week.


By Chad Selweski

In Macomb County politics, one controversy leads to the next.

So, it’s little surprise that the removal from office of former county clerk Karen Spranger has led to a nasty campaign to fill her seat.

With a 17-candidate free-for-all in the Aug. 7 primary – six Democrats and 11 Republicans — the two main contenders, well-known Dems Fred Miller and state Sen. Steve Bieda, are unloading on each other. Earlier this year, Bieda gave up his congressional run for retiring Rep. Sandy Levin’s seat to campaign for clerk. Miller, a former state representative and county commissioner, suffered a stunning election loss to Spranger, a Republican, in 2016 and he seeks retribution.

That ‘16 outcome still irks County Executive Mark Hackel, who says that an attempt by Miller to “rig the election” with a backroom deal designed to make him the only Democrat in the clerk’s race, backfired in favor of the GOP’s obscure candidate. That led to “15 months of chaos” in the clerk’s office at the hands of the eccentric Spranger, said Hackel, a Democrat. This past weekend, an anybody-but-Miller message from Hackel to voters countywide was sent in a mailed campaign flyer.


The main issues in this campaign, following Spranger’s odd and unethical behavior, are integrity and transparency. More specifically, the campaign has become a contest to see which candidate can muddy his opponent beyond recognition.

Bieda is accused of campaign finance improprieties during his congressional run and of receiving $16,000 worth of wining and dining from lobbyists during 14 years in the Legislature.

Miller, a Mount Clemens Democrat, faces criticism mostly related to his reliance on the weird world of political bingos, where bingo players, mostly the elderly, unknowingly contribute to election campaigns with their gaming dollars.

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