Mar 3, 2010

Push to end one party rule in Livingston County begins

BRIGHTON – The nine-member Livingston County Board of Commissioners has been all Republican since 1996, but that may change in November based on a meeting held Tuesday night at the Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters.

The party wants at least one Democratic candidate in each district, and it plans to focus its resources on one or two races that are winnable. The meeting was part pep talk and part strategy session with advice from a couple of candidate who have won in predominately Republican areas: Oakland County Commissioner Dave Woodward and Rep. Marc Corriveau, D- Northville.

Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party, said challenging incumbents simply keeps them honest and more accountable to voters.

“Incumbents have to defend their record, and it keeps them from drifting to the extreme right,” she said. “Opposition in elections protects the democratic process.”

The results of the last election indicate the party may have some success in November.

“We know our county is becoming more moderate,” Daubenmier said. “We know (Michigan Supreme Court Justice) Diane Hathaway took Livingston County; as well as stem cell research and medical marijuana.”

The Board of Commissioners has been less than stellar in the last couple of years, with gaffs such as a $16 million slush fund from the delinquent tax fund to pay for pet projects while cutting sheriff road patrols and refusing to support county veterans.
“They refused to levy a tiny, tiny tax for the vets they are required by law to do,” Daubenmier said.

Woodward said raising money to win a commissioner seat is not that difficult, and he should know. He was the chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party for six years. When he took over, Democrats only held a few seats on the 25-member Board of Commissioners, and it now has 12 seats.

The former state Representative said there are plenty of assets available to help Democrats win seats.

“Any campaign is based on three principals; reputation, communication and dollars,” he said. “With all three of those principals you can win in a Republican area.”

Corriveau agreed with that, and he said in his case, doors trumped dollars, and he knocked on thousands of doors.

“(Former House Minority Leader) Dianne Byrum was always saying, dollars and doors,” he said.

Corriveau first ran for the 20th District seat in 2004, but lost badly, 60-40 percent.

“I learned how to run a campaign,” he said. “I learned from my mistakes, and I never made them again.”

He went all out in 2006, personally knocking on thousands of doors. He won by a mere 900 votes out of 42,000 votes cast. Last year he won by 9,000. He is forgoing a third term in the House next year where many say he could be Speaker of the House to run for the open 7th District seat currently held by a Republican, in what some people are saying could be a tough year for Democrats.

“That’s just taking a long view, and people vote for the candidate who relates to them,” he said. “I think the voter is less enamored with the R and the D if you tell them what you will do for them.”

The party plans another meeting for potential candidates at 6:30 p.m. March 16 at party headquarters. 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton.

Daubenmier said any candidate would have the support of the local and state party that includes a speech coach to the Voter Activation Network (VAN) as well as a campaign office open 365 days a year.

“The use of this office is a huge asset,” she said.

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