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Wednesday, November 3,2010

A GOP frenzy

Republicans celebrate a wave of victories

by Andy Balaskovitz

DETROIT — Well, there you have it. The Republican Party has a lot to cheer about.


The GOP snagged the governorship, the offices of attorney general and secretary of state and two state Supreme Court seats easily before 10 p.m.


A posh Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit was buzzing before the polls even closed. Pre-teens ran through the Woodward Ballrooms on the second floor in lime green Snyder/Calley t-shirts while elderly couples lined the perimeter. Republicans spoke proudly of a soon-to-be-gone Michigan Business Tax and “burdensome” regulation. They’re excited to see a “pragmatic,” business-minded governor take office in January. Some are even calling the GOP sweep a win against President Barack Obama.

8:36 p.m. Campaign employees are passing out flimsy “Hired: Snyder Calley for Michigan” hats that smell faintly of corn stalks. I searched for a “Made in China” label usually found on this type of garb, but to no avail.


Bill O’Reilly of Fox News is on every TV and projector at the party. Hot dogs wrapped in tin foil and hamburgers steam beside big bowls of chili and cheese platters in the corners of the ballroom.


Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” blares over the loud speakers. Its lyrics would prove a common theme of the music throughout the night.


To my surprise I find a prominent medical marijuana activist standing outside the ballroom eating a hot dog. We remembered each other from a cannabis convention in Ypsilanti back in February.


“I’m making friends with these people,” smiles Marvin Marvin (he refuses to give his real last name), a political science professor at Wayne County Community College. “Somebody has to sit down and talk with them (Republicans), and that’s me.”


Marvin has a point. Attorney General-elect Bill Schuette was a crusader against Michigan’s medical marijuana initiative that passed in the 2008 election. There’s talk he could turn the whole thing around, with an Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard-type approach to cracking down hard on dispensaries. Could Lansing be next on the list?


“Everyone in this (marijuana) camp is Democrat, Democrat, Democrat,” he said. “And this is my first time ever, ever, ever at a Republican convention.”


Marvin’s tactic of reaching across the table may be shrewd but it’s hard to say if it’ll be effective. Does this mean he’d be medicating with Republicans up in his hotel room?


“No, I haven’t done that with many Republicans yet but I might try,” he said.

9:02 p.m. A statistic showing Republican Rick Snyder up on his Democratic opponent Virg Bernero 64 percent to 33 percent triggers the first loud, collective cheer from the audience.
It’s starting to get loud in the ballroom as the Rumplestiltskin band belts Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” (It was a recording before.) A sharp-dressed man with a red bowtie with black polka dots brushes against my side. It turns out to be state Supreme Court Justice Bob Young.
Young was re-elected to the Court, joined by Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Beth Kelly, turning the Court back to a conservative, GOP-nominated 4-3 majority.
Young likes to refer to the conservative justices as “rule of law” judges. He denies the partisan slant in state Supreme Court races.
“What I’m doing is talking about judicial philosophy, not partisan philosophy,” Young said.
He added that he was “too busy running my own race” to comment much on why Rick Snyder was so successful in this election, but said he ran a clean campaign which did wonders for voter trust.
Young anticipates the medical marijuana issue to come before the state Supreme Court, it’s only a matter of “when.”
“We know medical marijuana will come before the Court,” he said.

9:32 p.m. NBC has already called the race for Snyder. “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas just came on over the stereo, sending six middle-aged women onto the dance floor.


Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser takes the stage with his wife, Eileen, who was leading for a seat on the state Board of Education, to talk about “sweeping the state ed boards.”


David Koch, a middle-aged computer salesman from Ann Arbor, is standing in the corner drinking a glass of red wine.


“Rick’s a sound businessman who understands the needs of the future,” Koch said.


Can he “fix Michigan” in one term?


“I hope so,” Koch said. “It could take a while to get the ship steered.”


Lydia and John Cackowski, a Realtor and information technology specialist, respectively, also like Snyder’s business background.


“It’ll be fun to have business sensibilities at the Capitol,” John Cackowski said.


The Gross Pointe couple thinks Bernero is too much of a “loose canon” with too strong of a personality and a “lack of business sense.”


“The way he does business is different than what most people want to vote for,” Lydia Cackowski said.

11 p.m. The distinctive opening keyboards to Van Halen’s “Right Now” energizes the crowd, as they know the governor-elect is about to take the stage.


The elected candidates just made their acceptance speeches. Lieutenant Gov.-elect Brian Calley had perhaps the most inspirational speech of the crew that included Young, Kelly and Secretary of State-elect Ruth Johnson.


He called for an end to divisiveness between the east and west sides of the state, rural and urban areas and even threw out the phrase “class warfare.”


The crowd sang along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” after Calley’s speech in preparation for Snyder.


Snyder’s first order of business was to thank Bernero on a well-run campaign. He proceeded in pragmatic fashions to outline his “vision” and “plan” for the future, which relies heavily on positivism and spirit.


“It’s time for the era of innovation,” Snyder said. “It’s time to get that spirit back.”


We’ve hired you, Mr. Snyder. Good luck.

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