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Thursday, June 24,2010

Virg Watch

It's about time for Virg's endorsements to start working their magic

by Neal McNamara
Virg Bernero spent the last couple of months racking up endorsements (including the latest, announced Tuesday, from the Michigan Democratic Party Justice Caucus) from the likes of the AFL-CIO and the Michigan Education Association. But, apparently, the giant unions are just now going to start campaigning for Bernero.

In an article published Wednesday on the Detroit Free Press’ website, AFL-CIO state President Mark Gaffney said that a statewide campaign by the union has been launched. The AFL-CIO’s 900,000 workers and retirees will hand out fliers and make calls to voters. Though, on Thursday, Dillon was endorsed by the Teamsters union, which boasts 90,000 workers and retirees. Dillon also got the endorsement of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

And Bernero needs it. A poll by EPIC-MRA released last week shows House Speaker Andy Dillon leading Bernero in popularity 34 percent to 24 percent — and still with 42 percent undecided on a candidate. The poll also showed that in hypothetical match-ups with Republican candidates Rick Snyder and U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, Bernero would lose by at least 9 percent. (Dillon loses pretty well, too, by at least 8 percent.)

The Democratic part of the poll — where we see the popularity difference between Dillon and Bernero — surveyed 400 people and had a margin of error of 4.9 points.

On Thursday, Bernero was the subject of a Detroit News story about his meeting with the paper’s editorial board. The biggest nugget the paper pulled out of him, judging by the headline, is that Bernero would lobby Washington for fairer trade policies — a pledge that he outlined in an economic plan he unveiled last week.

Bernero also told the Detroit News he is for the consolidation of municipalities and school districts — but after winning reelection last November, his mayoral spokesman told us Bernero would “be willing” to take on managing the Lansing School District but isn’t seeking to do so.

He also told the Detroit News he would “push for increased collection” of sales tax on Internet goods, is pro-choice and support stem cell research (with Alma Wheeler-Smith out of the race, Bernero appears to be a shoe-in for the Planned Parenthood endorsement), would consider an increase in the gasoline tax and supports a part-time legislature with term limits extended to 12 years.

In appearances, Bernero was scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon at a luncheon hosted by the Small Business Association of Michigan alongside all the Republican candidates for governor, but not Dillon. He also announced on Facebook that he would appear at a rally for teachers at the Capitol.

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