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Michigan Democratic Party may get new leadership

Lon Johnson

Lon Johnson

Staff Report

DETROIT — Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer may be on his way out. Many Democrats believe it is time for new leadership and will select a new chair Feb. 23 at the 2013 party convention in Detroit.

“Mark Brewer is one of the most ineffective chairmen we have ever had. He is absolutely not producing,” said political analyst Art Blackwell. “You can’t point to one election he was directly responsible for and he never raises any money for important ballot initiatives.”

Blackwell says under Brewer’s leadership the party has relied only on Detroit for their large turnout.

But the party doesn’t help Detroit, Blackwell says.

Democratic Party member Brandon Jessup says the party needs new blood.

Mark Brewer

Mark Brewer

“As a Democrat, much less one living in the city, we have been unhappy with the state party for a long time,” says Jessup. “The thing is, it doesn’t matter who is at the top but if we don’t get new blood within our districts, within our grassroots, we won’t have a party in 10 years. We need to recruit. We have to make good party change from the top to the bottom.”

Many party members, who would not go on record, said the party needs “reinvigoration.”

The Democratic Party has lost some critical battles in recent elections. The state party lost the right-to-work fight and failed to take back the state House of Representatives or Supreme Court. In an election year, where President Barack Obama, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Carl Levin won, many Democrats were left wondering why the party lost its district elections. In a state with 26 House swing seats, Democrats won just five in the last election.

Brewer was also conspicuously absent from the campaign to repeal Public Act 4, the former statewide Emergency Manager law. Detroit’s Democratic voting base of the party went against the EM law by more than 80 percent of the vote.

Brewer was quoted as supporting the law following the elections, although he stated he’d like to see collaboration between the appointed managers and local officials.Brewer said the state needs an emergency manager law and would like to see an update to Public Act 72, the law preceding PA 4, MLive reported.

“There are obviously cities and school districts that get into financial trouble and need that kind of assistance,” he said following the election. “But what we need is a law … that is developed on a bipartisan basis … not developed by one party to suit its agenda and then rammed through the legislature.”

Democratic party stalwarts have thrown their support to Lon Johnson, who hopes to replace Mark Brewer. The United Steelworkers, all of the Michigan Democrats in Congress — Congressman John Conyers and Gary Peters have endorsed Johnson.

The Michigan Congressional Democratic Congressional Delegation wrote this about replacing Brewer: “We must build a stronger organization that reaches out to more constituents, conducts more organizing activities, pushes the envelope on technology, communicates a consistent message, builds infrastructure around the state and raises a broad range of resources around the state.”

“From grassroots activism to fundraising to technology to engaging new voters, Lon has the talent and the vision to lead the Democratic Party to a stronger and more vibrant future,” said United Steelworkers District 2 Director Michael Bolton in a press statement.

Johnson began a statewide, grassroots, field effort with 120 volunteers. He is hoping party members come to the convention in Detroit to support him.

Brewer has held the seat since 1995.

“We have to remember the chairman and his whole crew tried do an end run against Barack Obama in 2008,” said Blackwell who was referring to the Michigan Democratic Party attempt to change the primary date, against national party rules. As a result, John Edward and Barack Obama removed their names from the Michigan ballot. Many believe it was an attempt to help Hillary Clinton. At the time, Detroiters felt they lost a chance to vote for the first Black president in the primary.

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