The Michigan Democratic Party is in deep trouble in 2010.
Yes, I said that.
I am not a soothsayer, but I can say to the Democrats who are hoping to hold on to the gubernatorial office in 2010 to “beware of the Ides of March.”
They stand to have their gubernatorial ambitions killed under a failing Michigan economy that is driving graduates out of the Wolverine state.
The Democrats, who are hoping to ask Michigan voters in the fall for a mandate to occupy the offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state, will have to make a compelling case other than just been labeled a Democrat.
They will have to show in clear terms what will be done different from the last eight years.
Historians will decide if Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm will go down in history as one of the worst governors for failing to use the bully pulpit when it was necessary, or as one of the well-intentioned governors who encountered a dismal presidency and economy under George W. Bush.
But her top assistant, John Cherry, the lieutenant governor, is gladly waiting in the wings for his turn in the succession line. When I interviewed Granholm recently on my television program, the media savvy governor was beaming with confidence and at times winking at me, saying that Cherry will be the gubernatorial nominee for the Democratic Party next year.
Cherry, by all standards, is not charismatic. I’ve bumped into him a couple of times at political functions and most recently at the home of Democratic powerhouse couple Debbie Dingell and Congressman John Dingell where I was invited for their Christmas reception.
While it was noticeable by those present in the room that evening that the invitation for the Dingells reception was sent to an eclectic group of people from diverse backgrounds, one thing also vivid was that Cherry was not working the room as a tough candidate.
I watched Cherry from a distance in the room, sometimes standing aloof or saying a few words to a couple of people. Perhaps an agile candidate, one with the guts, bite and audacity to turn Michigan around would have engaged everyone in the room.
Even Republican operatives like Paul Welday were also in attendance. Maybe Cherry concluded he’s got the nomination already and its time to sit back and let the soldiers in Mark Brewer’s Michigan Democratic Party do the work around the state and in Detroit.
Cherry knows that is not the way it goes. Those who are affected most by this economy want to see the person who is to be crowned nominee out front campaigning and pounding the pavement early.
Mr. Cherry, take a page from the Obama campaign book and you will soon realize that you should have been out there a year ago.
My sources tell me that the Democrats are facing a political nightmare because the presumptive nominee Cherry does not have the pull power, which in turn affects his fundraising ability.
And if Cherry, who has to work hard to convince people that he has fire in his stomach to fight the Republican nominee (whoever that will be), doesn’t know where to begin, write off the Democratic Party in 2010.
Enter the party alternatives. House Speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.
Between these two its hard to tell who, in fact, can be trusted even though Bernero is saying all the right things right now, projecting himself as the hope candidate. He is touting his concern and offering somewhat of a panacea for Michigan’s cities that have been victimized in this economy, a case that Cherry ought to be making.
Bernero is even saying loud those code words “urban agenda” that often send chills down the spinal cords of candidates who dismiss race and class in the economic revitalization of major cities like Detroit.