Sunday, September 25, 2005


The GOP Dilemma

Oh what to do? Over the last few years, the GOP has been trying to woo black voters, with some success, by telling black people how much the party of rich white CEO's loves them by digging up the few rich black republican CEO's and having them run for office. That was the thinking when Ken Melhman chose Rev. Kieth Butler as the candidate to run against Senator Debbie Stabenow. He's a crazy conservative, deep roots in the party, totally crazy, incredibly rich and above all else, black. How could it get better than that? If he could take just a third of the Detroit (the black) vote then he could trounce Stabenow. So Melhman annointed him and the endorcements rolled in. But then something happened, Rev. Jerry Zandstra showed up on the scene. Some white guy from the western (ie republican) part of the state wanted in on the show. But who would support this guy? The party would have no part in it. In fact, at his website, there is no endorcements page and he only lists one endorcement, from the chair of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

This past weekend, both candidates have been wooing party leaders at a big GOP shindig on Macinac Island. The problem with Zandstra is that he's white. The problem with Butler is that he'll lose. And that is a very big problem for the GOP. Butler could spend 10 times as much money and Zandstra (he won't) and still lose. The republican primary voters in this state live in the western (republican) part, not in Detroit (black). The funny thing is, I don't think this is about race, it's about religion.

Butler runs a cultish non-denominational church that worships money and being rich, he himself is compensated quite well from his operations... his followers don't seem to mind because hell, it's a blessing to be rich and fly around in private jets. That kind of thing makes God happy. Zandstra, on the other hand, is Christian Reformed, the modern name of the Calvinist Church. A large number of Dutch Calvinists (now Christian Reform) immigrated to western Michigan some time ago. Hence city names like Holland. If you're not familiar with the religion, it's very strict, and very decent. One of the really decent Christian denominations that I've come across. For some reason I can't understand, they're all Republican. While they don't mind black people (too much), they aren't so down with whacko extravagant mega churches, like Butler's. They will vote in the primary, and Zandztra will win because he represnets their values well, Butler does not.

By now, Ken is getting a headache. They've already thrown all this money to Butler! What to do? Without the support of the western part of the state (they don't like DeVos for the same reasons), not only will the GOP lose the governor and senate, they might drop another state house seat just out of resentment over a weak state ticket. On the other hand, they get Butler and maybe a few extra votes in Detroit. The meeting this weekend is big news. Over the next week we'll see how it pans out.

Great minds think alike: see my post at Michlib.

I really want to tell lots of people about his million-dollar home, two church-owned jets, big-game animals mounted from safaris on his office walls and oh...the nearly $1.2 million in salary and honoraria he "earned" last year. I want to buy a sound truck and hit the reddest parts of Macomb and Ottawa, and Kent counties.

On the other hand, I want don't want to tell too many people. I want Butler to stay in the race. If Butler and Zandstra really mix it up, there may be nothing but a severely beaten corpse to run against Debbie, thus freeing up some resources for someone else.
from a strategic point of view, i think the mdp should be rooting for butler. he might take a small part of the detroit vote, but with devos and butler on the ticket, for west michigan conservatives, there are no good candidates in close races (with only a few exceptions). In fact, it's possible that values (CR) voters could swing democratic just because the state gop ticket would be so distant from them. those few exception might swing to the dems. it's a whole different story if zandstra wins.
Sure, I could see a few Michigan evangelicals going over to Debbie (in the event of a Butler win). But I'd be very skeptical about that boosting other Dems on the ticket there. Carl Levin has consistently outperformed other Dems, yet I have yet to see any evidence his success has pulled anyone over the hump. I would think the gubernatorial race inherently has a greater potential to do that.

Like I said - the main thing I'm rooting for is a knock-down ugly, divisive primary fight. That's what killed Lenore Romney back in 1970 when she ran against Phil Hart. Plus, the battle may suck up coverage that would otherwise go to DeVos. It would be a wonderful distraction.
That's true, DeVos has been making an awful lot of noise recently, a good fight would really put a damper on it.
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