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Wednesday, July 20,2011

Sorg to run for Byrum's seat

by Kyle Melinn

Former WJIM-AM radio personality Walt
Sorg won’t get a chance to succeed term-limited Rep. Joan Bauer in the
68th House District. 


The state’s new redistricting lines have
Sorg living in the rural Ingham County-based 67th district, now
represented by Rep. Barb Byrum. That sets up an entirely different
dynamic for the former Wheatfield Township resident.


Under the old lines, Sorg would have his
hands full in a likely crowded Democratic primary. An early Mark Grebner
poll had Sorg hovering at around the 4 percent mark and polling fourth
out of four hypothetical candidates. While Kelly Bernero's hopes of
being a state rep in 2012 have essentially vanished after her
impaired-driving arrest in which pot was allegedly found in her car,
Sorg still would have needed to leapfrog Ingham County Commissioner Andy
Schor and one, if not two, sitting Lansing City Council members,
Derrick Quinney and A’Lynne Robinson.


Things are much different in the new
67th, which outside of some Lansing boundary changes and Glen Oak
Township, is the same as the old 67th.


A few names are floating around there —
Lansing Fire Chief Tom Cochran being the most prominent — but the
Democratic field isn't as deep in the 67th. There also isn't another
Byrum interested in running.


It puts Sorg in a better position in the
primary. The General Election is a different story. Ed Sarpolus of
Target Insyght has the new 67th at a 52 percent Democrat base. The Dem
base in the 68th is an untouchable 73 percent.


Money will be spent in the 67th and Sorg
knows it. Instead of having to raise $75,000 for a competitive run in
Lansing, he'll need to spend $500,000 to knock off the Republican
nominee in the 67th. More mail. More radio. More TV. Both caucuses could
open up their wallets, which means even more money.


For that reason, Sorg told me that he
doesn't want a knockdown, drag-out fight in the primary. If the party
establishment gets behind another Democratic candidate, Sorg told me he
would bow out.


Until then, Sorg is making the moves of a
real candidate, meeting with groups and influential people in rural
Ingham County and hearing about their frustrations with the state's cuts
to K-12 education and the resulting teacher layoffs. The Republicans
are to blame, he said.


If he can capture enough of that energy, Sorg could be the candidate to spoil the R's long plans to paint Ingham County red.




Whitmer, Byrum face recall effort


Recall fever, it turns out, isn’t just limited to Republicans. 


Holt man Robert J. Walter filed recall
petition paperwork recently against both of his Democratic legislators —
Rep. Barb Byrum and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer — for voting no on tightening
up the exceptions to the state's 48-month lifetime limit on welfare
benefits.


Walter has a clarity hearing Aug. 1 in
front of the Ingham County Elections Commission, where he may get the
go-ahead to start passing around petitions. The chances that either
Whitmer or Byrum is leaving office prematurely are somewhere between
slim and none.


The interesting news here is that
conservatives are firing back against Democratic-aligned activists who
already have 19 recalls underway against individual legislators
statewide. That doesn't include the current attempts against Gov. Rick
Snyder or Attorney General Bill Schuette.


None of these Republicans are getting
booted through a recall either. The drive is more of an attempt to
accumulate lists of supporters and gin up the base in time for next
year's legislative elections, where Dems hope to eat away at that 63-37
minority.


Walter is making the statement through
his recall filings that some people like the Republican majority's plans
for spending restraints and that Democrats shouldn't think they're
getting a free publicity ride until November 2012.


The vocal minority always sounds louder
because rhetoric is all they have. Those in charge appear to have less
support because their arguments aren't always out there. They don't have
to be. They won the battle of words in the last election and now have
the power to drive an agenda.




Chamber survey bags Council


The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
ponied up at least some of the money for the recent survey showing that
67 percent of Lansing voters think the City Council is “dysfunctional”
and that the body deserves a D for its handling of taxpayer money.


Legislative bodies, as a whole, rarely
fare well in polls anyway. Respondents are more likely to hammer on a
faceless collective body than their own individual representative.


But after the Council sandbagged Pat
Gillespie's riverfront plan last fall for lack of a project labor
agreement, the results from the Marketing Resource Group survey of 300
Lansing residents would have only been surprising if they had given the
Council a glowing review.


The chamber wants labor loving incumbents
Carol Wood and Derrick Quinney out. The survey is an obvious attempt to
lay the groundwork for that.


(Kyle Melinn is editor of the Capitol newsletter MIRS. E-mail him at melinn@lansingcitypulse.com.)

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