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Wednesday, March 31,2010

Virg Watch

A few more endorsements, plus Virg's birthday

by Neal McNamara
First off, happy birthday to Mayor Virg Bernero, who was born on this day in 1964. By our math, he turned 46 today.

But it was probably a bittersweet lead up to his birthday for the mayor, as a companion of his daughter, Virginia, was the victim of a drug-related homicide (so say Lansing Police) last Thursday. Then, on Tuesday, a poll was released that showed Bernero trailing other gubernatorial candidates by a few percentage points. The Rasmussen poll of upward of 500 likely voters had Andy Dillon at 10 percent, Alma Wheeler-Smith at 10 percent and Bernero at 8 percent. But, more whoppingly, 53 percent of those surveyed were undecided. (This is also the first recent poll to show Bernero trailing Smith, however razor-thin the margin.)

But, Bernero did pick up a few endorsements this week. As Bernero announced on his Facebook page, the South County Democratic Party gave him their endorsement. The club is located in Berrien County, Michigan’s most southwesterly province, and includes the cities of Niles, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.

The College Democrats at Central Michigan University also endorsed Bernero. Bernero is not only scheduled to speak at CMU tonight, but also his daughter, Virginia, is a freshman there and a member of the College Democrats. The College Democrats also have links to the Isabella County Democrats, and, in a news release about Bernero’s endorsement, are promising to register 5,000 voters this year. Can Smith or Dillon tout an equal get-out-the-vote force in that region?

In other endorsement news, Bernero was scheduled to go to a “meet and greet” in Detroit on Monday night hosted by the Service Employees International Union. According to the SEIU, Bernero, Smith, Dillon and yet-declared, possible Independent candidate Joe Schwarz are all seeking the union's endorsement. The SEIU endorsement, however, is a bit of work: Candidates have to participate in three “meet and greet” events, do a “walk a day in my shoes,” submit a plan to fix the state’s structural deficit (where the expenditures are projected to outpace the revenues indefinitely — the city of Lansing has one, too), and then survive an interview with state SEIU council members.

Steve Reck, a political coordinator for SEIU Local 517M in Lansing, confirmed that Bernero, Dillon and Smith came to Monday's event, but Schwarz did not make it due to be tied up at work. There are two more meet and greets, one in Muskegon, and another in Saginaw. Reck said the 80,000-member Michigan SEIU could make an endorsement as soon as mid-May. He also reported that Bernero, Dillon and Smith had all completed the "walk a day in my shoes" requirement.

Bernero appeared on a video released last Friday by Michigan Progress, an Oakland County television show hosted by self-described “progressive activist” Bruce Fealk. One of the more interesting questions from Fealk was how Bernero intends to raise the money necessary to wage a gubernatorial campaign. Bernero said, “If you have the vision right and the passion to move forward, people will get behind you and the money will follow.”

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