Napoleon, Duggan face off
Money and name ID win in primary
By A. Jones
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan, spending about $56 per vote, won the top spot in Detroit’s mayoral primary Aug. 6. He beat out 13 candidates including Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, city attorney Krystal Crittendon and Tom Barrow, CPA.
Duggan won leading an unprecedented and historic write-in campaign. Incumbent councilmembers Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, Andre Spivey and Brenda Jones were also top vote getters, as was incumbent Clerk Janice Winfrey. Name identification helped George Cushingberry, Gabe Leland and Andre Spivey make it through.
Money and name recognition won out on Tuesday, say political observers. The results of this election have many geared up for November.
“I think (Mike) Duggan reached his peak. Having said that, if (Napoleon) doesn’t change his campaign agenda — get more aggressive and talk about what people want — he won’t win,” says longtime political observer Adolph Mongo. “If he turns into the (Napoleon) I know from the gang squad, under Coleman Young, he can (be mayor).”
Brandon Jessup, political consultant and campaign manager for Lisa Howze, who lost her primary bid for mayor, says this is just the beginning.
Jessup says a primary defines a candidate’s political base and supporters.
“This is a two person race now. As much as the mainstream media painted this as a two person race, now it really is,” says Jessup who also believes Napoleon must build coalitions and improve voter turnout. “Benny Napoleon is in a very strong position. He has a majority of the grassroots support and a lot of endorsements, but he has to diversify his fundraising streams.”
Duggan raised more money than any other candidate — $2.5 million in total.
“Money talks,” says Detroit political oberver Steve Hood. “Duggan spent a boatload of money real wisely and educated Detroit on how to do a write-in and got a platform out, but money is the mother’s milk of politics and that was flowing.”
Yet, Hood believes for Duggan to win in the general election, he must legitimize himself among African Americans.
He says Duggan needs a plan for the neighborhoods.
“If he can turn that around, he sends a major message — it is not about white people controlling Detroit. He has got to be able to nip race war 2013 before it starts.”
All the observers say race will play a role in this campaign. Yet, Jessup believes Detroit must stay focused on public policy. Emergency management and the announcement of the bankruptcy had a chilling effect on turnout and the results.
“We have to stay focused on the issues at hand. The city is in bankruptcy and democracy is under attack,” says Jessup. “We are dealing with people who are imposing leadership on this city.”
Jessup pointed out the fact that nearly 6,000 people, as much as the third highest vote getter, Crittendon, wrote in a candidate other than Duggan. He believes voters are “disillusioned and disappointed” in the electoral process.
“We need to take a serious look at yesterday’s turnout. The city did not speak. You are looking at a city that is politically gutted, and I don’t think we should treat a write-in candidate’s win — we only had 17 percent turnout — as a commitment to changing things.”