Last updated: Friday, Oct. 30, 11:32 a.m. This post will be continuously updated with Michigan political and elections news.
More than 2.6 million Michiganders have already voted in the November general election, according to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. A total of 3.3 million people have requested absentee ballots.
Many more voters are expected to turn out to vote in person on Election Day. Officials expect turnout to break the state record of 5.08 million voters in the 2008 presidential election.
Voters who still have an absentee ballot should turn the voted ballot in in-person at their clerk’s office or at a ballot drop box, election officials say. Clerk’s offices must be open for at least eight hours this weekend.
“Michigan citizens are making their voices heard, confident that our elections will be an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Benson said in a statement. — Riley Beggin
Trump to make three Michigan stops in campaign homestretch
Republican President Donald Trump will make three separate stops in Michigan over the final few days before Nov. 3, and he will close out his 2020 presidential campaign in the Great Lakes State.
Trump will first hold a rally at 11 a.m. Sunday at Total Sport Park in Washington, Macomb County.
The president will hold a rally a day later at 5 p.m. Monday at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, in Grand Traverse County. His final campaign stop of the election will be at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids at 10:30 p.m.
Trump also ended his 2016 campaign with an event in Grand Rapids. — Mansur Shaheen
Barack Obama to join Biden for Michigan events in elections final weekend
President Barack Obama will join Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden for two events on Saturday, a few days before the Nov. 3 election.
Obama and Biden will first host a drive-in event in Flint at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday. They will later host a drive-in event in Detroit at 5:30 p.m.
Additional details on the visits are not yet available. – Mansur Shaheen
Trump attacks Snyder after Fox News appearance
Former Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told Fox News he voted for Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, earning the ire of President Donald Trump Thursday night.
“I’m a proud Republican,” Snyder told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on “Your World.” “I’m an American first, and we shouldn’t let partisanship get in the way of good decision-making for our country and Joe Biden is a much better decision than Donald Trump.”
Snyder endorsed Biden for president in September. Trump is set to visit the state on Friday afternoon for a rally in Waterford Township, before returning again on Monday, a day before Nov. 3. He also held a rally in Lansing on Tuesday. – Mansur Shaheen
Snyder cited the president’s tax bill from 2017, tariffs he has imposed on goods from Canada, Mexico and other trading partners, and the government’s COVID-19 response as reasons for why he chose to vote against Trump.
“Failed RINO former Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan was a disaster with respect to the Flint Water CATASTROPHE, and a very bad Governor overall. He hurt so many people with his gross incompetence,” Trump responded to Snyder on Twitter Thursday evening.
Failed RINO former Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan was a disaster with respect to the Flint Water CATASTROPHE, and a very bad Governor overall. He hurt so many people with his gross incompetence. He reminds me of Sleepy Joe!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2020
Thursday, Oct. 29
Actor Jeff Daniels and author Don Winslow teamed for a short film released just before Election Day, backing Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden in his campaign against President Donald Trump.
“America Needs Michigan” is a 2-minute short film voiced over by the actor and Michigan native. A YouTube upload of the ad has received over 150,000 views in two days.
“In Michigan we don’t pound out chests or blow out own horn, we just get the job done,” Daniels recites over a harrowing track while shots from across the state are shown.
“Michigan deserves a president who tells the truth...who cares about all of us...who believes in things like decency, honesty and respect,” Daniels says, before closing the ad by stating that he voted for Biden.
Michigan is projected to be a key state on Nov. 3, and both campaigns have made many visits to the state in the days leading up to the election. — Mansur Shaheen
Editor’s note: Jeff Daniels teamed up with Don Winslow on a short film. A previous tracker item said that Jeff Bridges worked on the film.
Wednesday, Oct. 28
Trump in Michigan on Friday
President Donald Trump will be making another stop in Michigan on Friday in the final days leading up to the Nov. 3 election.
The president will be making a speech at a “Make America Great Again Victory Rally” at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township.
The rally comes just days after a visit from Trump in Lansing and is scheduled one day before an appearance in Michigan by his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. — Mansur Shaheen
Editor’s note: Jeff Daniels teamed up with Don Winslow on a short film. A previous tracker item said that Jeff Bridges worked on the film.
Tim Allen lends iconic voice to James ad
The iconic voice of Tim Allen will be heard on Michigan televisions again soon, in an ad supporting Republican Senate challenger John James.
“Together” is a 30-second ad by James’ Senate campaign, voiced over by the star of “Home Improvement” and “Toy Story.”
“A place where people respect each other, love each other, Michigan, that’s John James,” Allen reads.
The ad is an allusion to the “Pure Michigan” ad campaign to which Allen, a Michigan native, also lends his voice. Allen has previously lended his voice to similarly styled political ads, including one for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2016.
James, a Farmington Hills businessman, is running against Democratic incumbent Gary Peters for Michigan’s Senate seat. — Mansur Shaheen
Eric, Tiffany Trump to make final election push in Michigan
Two of President Donald Trump’s children will be making stops in Michigan on Thursday as they stump for their Republican father with days to go until the Nov. 3 election.
Tiffany Trump will host a “Breakfast With Tiffany” event at 9 a.m. in Birmingham.
Eric Trump will host two events. First, there’s a “Make America Great Again” event at Hope Sports Complex in Lansing at 2:30 p.m. Then, he will host an “Evangelicals for Trump” event at ResLife Church in Grandville in Kent County at 6 p.m. — Mansur Shaheen
Tuesday, Oct. 27
Joe Biden to visit Michigan on Saturday
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will travel to Michigan on Saturday, for a final push before the Nov. 3 election. His wife, Jill, also plans to visit the state on Thursday. The details of each visit have yet to be announced.
The visits follow a blitz from President Donald Trump and his surrogates. Trump is in Lansing on Tuesday, while Vice President Mike Pence will rally in Flint on Wednesday. — Mansur Shaheen
Monday, Oct. 26
Pence plans to visit Flint on Wednesday
Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Michigan on Wednesday, making a final push to stump for Donald Trump before the Nov. 3 election.
Pence plans a rally in Flint at 7 p.m. at Bishop International Airport. Trump plans to be in Lansing at 2 p.m. Tuesday for a rally at Capital Region International Airport. — Mansur Shaheen
More election links:
- Michigan Fact Squad: What Michigan-related ads are truthful, or not so much
- A roundup of 2020 presidential election coverage from a Michigan angle
- Demystifying Michigan elections: What happens to ballots after you vote?
- All our 2020 Michigan election coverage proposals, state Supreme Court, more
- 2020 Facts & Issues Guide: Where Michigan stands in the stats and major issues
Sunday, Oct. 25
Harris to visit Detroit Sunday; Trump in Lansing on Tuesday
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will spend her Sunday in Detroit and Oakland County, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign announced late Saturday.
Harris is set to participate in a drive-in church service in Detroit at 10:35 a.m., followed by afternoon events in Detroit and Troy, and a “vote now” drive-in rally in Pontiac at 4:30 p.m.
The visit is the latest in a flurry of campaign activity in Michigan, which remains a key battleground with Election Day a little more than one week away.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to campaign in Lansing on Tuesday. And his son, Donald Trump Jr., will rally Monday evening at the Michigan Stars Sports Center in Macomb County’s Washington Township. — Jonathan Oosting
Friday, Oct. 23
Trump in Lansing on Tuesday
President Donald Trump is heading to Michigan seven days ahead of the Nov. 3 election, planning a stop in Lansing on Tuesday.
Trump’s campaign on Friday announced he plans a rally at 2 p.m. at Capital Region International Airport in Lansing. The Republican’s running mate, Mike Pence, and two of his children, Ivanka and Eric, visited the state earlier this week. — Mansur Shaheen
Biden launches Michigan bus tour
With 10 days before the election, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is making a final push in Michigan and will join Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for a four-day bus tour starting Friday.
The tour starts Friday in Taylor, a Downriver suburb of Detroit, with a rally featuring Lt. Gov Garlin Gilchrist and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn. Whitmer, a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign, will make periodic stops during the so-called Soul of the Nation tour. Not all details have been made public, but the tour will include car rallies and voter mobilization events.
Pop singer Lizzo, a Detroit native, will headline two events for the Biden campaign as well on Friday, at 3 p.m. in Detroit then at 5:30 p.m. in Harper Woods.
Doug Emhoff, husband of vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, will make three stops in Michigan on Friday. He will travel to Muskegon County, Ottawa County and Detroit. — Mansur Shaheen
Thursday, Oct. 22
Trump takes more jabs at Whitmer in Thursday debate with Biden
President Donald Trump took jabs at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again Thursday night as he made exaggerated claims about her COVID-19 response in his second televised debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
“Take a look at what’s happening with your friend in Michigan, where her husband’s the only one allowed to do anything,” Trump said to Biden. “It’s like a prison. Now it was just ruled unconstitutional.”
Trump’s prison comparison is hyperbole, of course. Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order on June 1 and has since allowed all businesses to reopen, albeit with some capacity limitations and new workplace safety rules.
While Whitmer’s family is subject to the same regulations as other Michiganders, Trump has repeatedly panned the governor over an incident in late May, when her husband name-checked her in phone call with a northern Michigan marina as he asked to jump to the front of the line and get his boat in the water.
The Michigan Supreme Court on Oct. 2 deemed unconstitutional an emergency authority law Whitmer had used to issue COVID-19 orders, but her administration has used separate public health and workplace safety orders to continue most regulations. — Jonathan Oosting
Michigan early voting returns heaviest so far in Democratic counties
In a year of record turnout, absentee voting is strongest in counties where Hillary Clinton did well in 2016, according to a Bridge analysis of state records. It’s unclear if the trend will hold through Nov. 3, but it’s bad news so far for President Donald Trump and Republicans.
Republicans, who in the past have employed a robust absentee voting program to get supporters to cast ballots, aren’t taking advantage of no-reason absentee voting like their Democratic peers. Experts say that’s a result of the president publicly deriding the practice.
Trump: 'My Justice Department helped Whitmer'
President Donald Trump denied accusations he endangered Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with his rhetoric over recent months during an interview with “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday.
“I never said lock up the governor of Michigan, I would never say that,” Trump told Lesley Stahl.
The president held a rally in Muskegon this weekend, where the crowd erupted into “lock her up” chants when he mentioned Whitmer. Trump responded “lock ‘em all up.”.
Whitmer, who is a national co-chair of Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign, has blamed Trump for “fomenting anger” that fueled a kidnapping plot against her. Fourteen men face charges of conspiring to kidnap the governor and storm the state Capitol to start a civil war.
Trump told “60 Minutes” that “it was our Justice department that’s the one that’s helping her,” he said, adding “my Justice Department, if you can call it that.”
Trump and Whitmer have sparred for much of the year over the coronavirus pandemic. He’s accused Whitmer of wanting “to be a dictator” and once tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” about her lockdown orders.
Testimony this month about the kidnapping case, though, revealed the plot against Whitmer was under way before many of the president’s criticisms of her.
Trump walked out of the “60 Minutes” interview after a series of questions about his assertions that the FBI should investigate Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
The interview will air 7:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS. A version of it is posted on Trump's Facebook page. — Mansur Shaheen
Mail delays increase in Detroit area
Mail delays have increased in the Detroit area for weeks, a congressional investigation spearheaded by Michigan Sen. Gary Peters concluded in a report published Tuesday.
About 71 percent of mail was delivered on time in the Detroit region the week of Oct. 3, the most recent time period available — the worst on-time delivery rate of any district in the nation. Nationally, the Postal Service made more than 86 percent of deliveries on time.
Four other districts — those covering Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Mississippi; Alabama and Philadelphia — were also below 80 percent.
On-time delivery means that the Postal Service delivered First Class mail within the one-to-five-day standard range as defined by USPS.
Overall, on-time deliveries in the Detroit area dropped by more than 12 percent since the start of September.
In Michigan, state election officials have advised voters who choose to vote by mail to send their ballots back to their local clerk by Oct. 19 to allow for enough time for the ballot to be received. Read the full story >
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Pence, Trump Jr. to make Michigan stop
Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. will visit Michigan on Thursday, with the vice president planning a rally at 12:30 pm. at Barnstormers in Waterford Township in Oakland County, while the president’s son is set to speak at 4:30 p.m. at Houghton County Memorial Airport in Calumet in the Upper Peninsula.
In recent days, other children of the president, Ivanka and Eric Trump, also hosted events in Michigan in recent days. — Mansur Shaheen
Monday, Oct. 19
Buttigieig to stump for Democrats in Michigan
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, plans to be in Michigan on Monday to stump for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. House candidates.
Buttigieg plans an appearance at 12:35 p.m. in Grand Rapids with his husband, Chasten Glezman, and Hillary Scholten, a candidate for Michigan’s 3rd congressional district. He also plans a 3:10 pm. appearance with U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, in Stockbridge in Ingham County, and a 5:40 p.m. voter mobilization event in Kalamazoo. – Mansur Shaheen
Biden, Trump families plan blitzes in Michigan ahead of election
With two weeks left before the Nov. 3 election, family members of Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic hopeful Joe Biden plan to visit Michigan this week.
Ivanka Trump, daughter of the president, plans to be in Alto in west Michigan at 4 p.m. Monday, while her brother Eric plans events Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at Schlegel Sand & Gravel in Lansing and Darling Farms in Willis in Washtenaw County at 6:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, Jill Biden, the wife of the Democratic nominee, plans stops in Detroit at 2:30 p.m., Madison Heights at 3:35 p.m., Dearborn at 4:30 pm., and a car rally in Saginaw at 6:15 p.m. — Mansur Shaheen
Friday, Oct. 16
Physicians urge Trump to cancel Saturday rally
Amid a surge in COVID cases in Michigan, a group of doctors is calling on President Trump to cancel a Saturday rally in Muskegon.
“This is a time when everything is getting polarized,” Dr. Susan Fabrick, a long-time family physician in Muskegon County told Bridge Michigan Friday. “But in this case, the science is what we’re looking at. It’s not politics. It’s a mass gathering (with the potential) of being a super spread event.”
Fabrick is a member of the Committee to Protect Medicare, a national, pro-health reform group whose executive director also is a West Michigan emergency physician. More than 2,000 COVID cases were reported in Michigan on Friday, and Muskegon has seen an increase in recent weeks, too. The county now reports an average of 17 cases a day, compared to an average of 10 cases a day the previous week.
Fabrick said those who are attending the rally should wear masks, face shields and gloves and socially-distance by at least six feet — something she doubts is possible.
Rally attendees “will go home to their families, kiss their children, visit their grandpa. Maybe they are grandpas,” she said, calling the rally “disheartening.” — Robin Erb
Thursday, Oct. 15
Trump takes jab at Whitmer husband, mischaracterizes lockdown
President Donald Trump made another jab at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a town hall forum on Thursday, falsely characterized her coronavirus rules and repeated a claim about auto investment in the state that was more accurate.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, appearing in an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia at the same time, did not directly mention Michigan.
Here are Trump’s claims and the facts behind them:
The claim: Nobody can do anything in Michigan
“We won a big case in Michigan because that governor has a lockdown where nobody but her husband can do anything. He can go boating and do whatever he wants but no one else can,” Trump said.
Trump made an apparent reference to a controversy in late May, when it was reported Whitmer’s husband, Marc Mallory, tried to use his relationship to get his boat in the water before Memorial Day weekend, shortly after she relaxed restrictions in northern Michigan.
But Trump’s assertion is an obvious exaggeration and off the mark.
Restaurants, bars and retail stores were already set to open in northern Michigan when the controversy arose. Over the next several months, Whitmer continued to relax restrictions statewide, reopening restaurants, gyms, schools for in-person learning, camps and childcare centers, and most major businesses with safety precautions.
Trump was referring to a recent state Supreme Court decision that found unconstitutional a 1945 Whitmer had relied on to issue executive orders without consent from lawmakers. The court found Whitmer violated separation of powers, not that she “had a lockdown where nobody … can do anything.”
The claim: Taxes are luring car companies to Michigan
"Car companies are coming into Michigan” and other states “because we reduced the taxes,” Trump said. “Our corporate taxes were the highest in the world but now they're among the lowest."
Car companies are investing in Michigan under Trump, including huge investments from FiatChrysler ($4.5 billion for a new Detroit plant and nearby expansions), Ford Motor Co. ($740 million in Detroit with plans to bring 5,000 jobs), electric car manufacturer Waymo (new plant near Detroit) and Navya, a French driverless car manufacturer building a plant in Saline.
But it is true the corporate tax rates fell under Trump, from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2018, which is lower than the global average of 23.8 percent. Some economists say that change can spur economic growth, but not dramatically because of former loopholes companies already used to avoid high taxes. — Riley Beggin
Biden to appear in Michigan
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will visit Michigan on Friday, one day before President Donald Trump has an event planned in Muskegon.
According to his campaign, Biden will speak about health care at 2:30 p.m. in Southfield and will attend a get-out-the-vote event in Detroit at 6:20 p.m. Specific locations of the events weren’t disclosed.
It will be Biden’s third visit to Michigan in the last several weeks. He visited Warren and Detroit in early September and Grand Rapids in early October.
The visit comes as Trump and his surrogates have stormed the state, including a visit from Eric Trump in Oakland County on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, and Lara Trump in Freeland and Hanover on Thursday.
Biden has maintained a steady lead over Trump in Michigan that has been widening in recent weeks, according to polling averages.
Biden’s events will be closed to most of the public and most media. Those interested in watching can see the events on Biden’s campaign website. — Riley Beggin
Trump on Gov. Whitmer: She wants to be a dictator
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was the subject of Donald Trump’s ire once again, as the president claimed Thursday morning she “wants to be a dictator.”
“Open up the states,” the president said on Fox Business. “Michigan, she has to open up. She wants to be a dictator in Michigan. And the people can’t stand her, and they wanna get back to work.”
"They ought to open up the states," says @realDonaldTrump - regarding many #shutdown #Democrat-run states. "They'll open them up on November 4th. They're only doing it for #politics." #VarneyCo pic.twitter.com/C1EhVMeHAs— Varney & Co. (@Varneyco) October 15, 2020
Trump never referred to Whitmer directly by name, but said “Michigan we won,” in reference to the 4-3 state Supreme Court ruling this month that stripped the governor of her executive powers to lockdown the state due to COVID-19.
Whitmer is national co-chair of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s national campaign. She has clashed all year with Trump, who infamously called her “the woman from Michigan” and “Half Whitmer” and tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” in reference to her lockdown orders. — Mansur Shaheen
Poll: Peters up 6 points over James
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Hills, has extended his lead over Republican challenger John James over the past month according to a EPIC-MRA poll for the Detroit Free Press.
Peters leads 45 percent to 39 percent in the poll of 600 likely voters, extending the gap between the two candidates to 6 percentage points, clearing the 4 point margin of error.
The Democratic incumbent held a 4 percentage point lead in last month’s poll by EPIC-MRAl.
It follows a Monday poll by Siena College and the New York Times – which has an A+ pollster rating from the website 538 — that had Peters with a 1 percentage point lead. — Mansur Shaheen
Tuesday, Oct. 14
Huizenga tests positive for COVID-19
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga said Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to a planned appearance in Grand Rapids with Vice President Mike Pence.
The Zeeland Republican announced results from what he called a rapid test while Pence spoke in west Michigan. Huizenga said he was tested offsite, per event protocol, and is awaiting results of a separate diagnostic test that is typically more accurate.
In the meantime, “I am self isolating until I have confirmed results,” the congressman wrote on Twitter.
Earlier today, I was expected to appear with the Vice President. While taking part in offsite testing protocols, I took a rapid test that came back positive for COVID-19. I am awaiting the results of a PCR test and I am self isolating until I have confirmed results.— Rep. Bill Huizenga (@RepHuizenga) October 14, 2020
Pence spoke at an auto supply company near Grand Rapids, where he defended GOP President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic and touted the country’s pre-coronavirus economy, among other things.
Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, is back “out on the campaign trail” and doing well, Pence said. The president, who is trailing Democrat Joe Biden in recent Michigan polls, is scheduled to speak at a Muskegon rally on Saturday.
“We are opening up America, and we are opening up American schools,” Pence said.
Watch his full speech below via WOOD-TV 8. — Jonathan Oosting
Benson says 1 million-plus have already voted
More than 1 million Michiganders already have cast ballots in the Nov. 3 election, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Tuesday. A record 2.8 million voters have requested absentee ballots for the election.
“We are on track to see more Michiganders vote this fall than ever before.” Benson wrote on Twitter.
Excited to announce that as of today, with 3 weeks to go until the polls close ...— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) October 14, 2020
Over *1 million* Michigan citizens have already voted!
With over 2.8 million voters already requesting to vote early we are on track to see more Michiganders vote this fall than ever before.
The Michigan State Department has recruited more than 30,000 election workers for the election and provided additional funds for machines to help with counting, Benson said. The Legislature also recently passed a bill allowing local clerks to open ballots a day early.
"We're doing everything we can to support clerks to be able to count those ballots efficiently," Secretary of State spokesperson Jake Rollow told reporters Tuesday. — Mansur Shaheen
Trump to visit Michigan on Saturday
Donald Trump plans to visit Michigan on Saturday, the fourth event in the state this week from the Republican’s re-election campaign. Two senior advisers, Lara Trump and Katrina Pierson, will be stopping in the state as well.
The president plans to make a speech supporting law enforcement at 5 p.m. at Muskegon County Airport.
His daughter in-law Lara Trump and adviser Katrina Pierson, meanwhile, plan an event at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Apple Mountain Resort in Freeland in Saginaw County. His son Eric appeared in Novi on Tuesday.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. — Mansur Shaheen
Monday, Oct. 12
Whitmer: No guarantee results will come on election night
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reiterated this weekend that the state is doing everything it can to make sure voting in the Nov. 3 election goes as smoothly as possible.
“Here's what I can say, we are prepared,” Whitmer said during an appearance on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We are prepared to make sure that this election goes smoothly. We're going to keep people safe as they go to the polls.”
A record 2.7 million voters have already requested absentee ballots. Whitmer, who serves as national co-chair for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, said she is working with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to handle the challenge ahead.
The volume of absentee ballots may make tallying the results tough, though, and there is a chance results will not be available for the state of Michigan until weeks after Election Day.
“Michigan will be able to announce results, but we are not going to have artificial deadlines set by people with political agendas. We're going to get this right,” Whitmer said.
Despite recent changes to Michigan law allowing for election clerks to open ballots a day early, the process of counting the millions of mail-in votes will be tough. Alexandra Eaton and Kassie Bracken of The New York Times spoke to clerks around the state, showing the process of the ballots being counted on Nov. 3, and highlighting some of the shortages of equipment and funding the state has been given by the federal government.
“I’m confident a delay in results does not mean anything is going wrong,” Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum told the Times.
Michigan voters are allowed to request absentee ballots at any time before the 5 p.m. deadline on Oct. 30. They are also allowed to vote, in person, at their local election clerk’s office every day until Election Day. — Mansur Shaheen
Biden in Toledo on Monday; Pence to stop in Grand Rapids Wednesday
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden plans to be in Toledo on Monday afternoon, speaking about the economy to UAW Local 14 members, while Vice President Mike Pence and Eric Trump, son of the president, will appear in Michigan this week to stump for Republican Donald Trump.
Eric Trump's rally is set for noon Tuesday at Huron Valley Guns in New Hudson, while Pence will speak in Grand Rapids at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. — Mansur Shaheen
Wednesday, Oct. 7
Benson refers GOP complaint to attorney general
Hours after the Michigan Republican Party released videos suggesting a Lansing ballot drop box was not secure, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson referred their claims to Attorney General Dana Nessel “for investigation as election misinformation,” the office said in a news release.
Early Wednesday morning, the state GOP released an email with two videos, claiming they show “an unlocked ballot drop box… with an envelope inside for the taking” and the same drop box two weeks later with an election worker struggling to close it.
The release says Trump has been raising concerns about “the lack of security in our election system” and that the videos are “confirming President Trump’s claims.”
Benson’s office sent out a press release later that morning saying that the first video was shot before ballots were sent out to voters and the envelope in the video “is clearly not a ballot envelope,” which carries specific markings and colors to indicate it is official election mail.
“By sharing blatantly false statements in the press release, they are irresponsibly spreading misinformation likely intended to suppress voting among Michigan citizens,” the statement read. “We have referred this matter to the Attorney General for investigation as election misinformation.”
The Lansing City Clerk’s office also sent out a news release saying that the video was filmed on Sept. 25, the day that the drop box was installed, and that the envelope in the video was not a ballot. The drop box was secured later that day, “which was before ballots hit most voter mailboxes the following day,” the release stated.
“Drop boxes are a safe and secure way to vote; we have security cameras on all of the ones we have installed this year,” Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said in the statement. — Riley Beggin
Ted Cruz to host fundraiser for John James
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is set to hold a virtual fundraiser for Republican Senate challenger John James on Thursday, per a copy of the invitation obtained by Bridge Michigan.
The event is noon Thursday, with tickets costing $1,000 per political action committee and $500 per person.
“This race in MICHIGAN is critical for the country — this is a key pick up seat for Republicans in the Senate,” the invitation states.
James, a Farmington Hills businessman, faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, in the November election. Recent polls show Peters leading by 5 to 7 points. — Mansur Shaheen
Tuesday, Oct. 4
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has extended his lead in Michigan over President Donald Trump, according to a poll released late Monday by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV.
Biden leads the Republican president 48 percent to 39 percent, according to the survey of 600 likely voters following the first presidential debate on Sept. 29. The poll, conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, has a 4 percentage point margin of error.
The same poll had Biden leading by 5 percentage points in early September. The surge is coming largely from older voters, according to WDIV. Voters 65 and older in Michigan favor Biden 59 percent to 29 percent over Trump
Trump carried Michigan less than 11,000 votes in the 2016 presidential election, and his victory in the state was a decisive factor in his victory. — Mansur Shaheen
Monday, Oct. 5
Record number of absentee vote ballot requests
A record 2.7 million Michigan voters have requested absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told reporters on Monday.
“That's an extraordinary number,” Benson said, adding that 380,000 ballots have since been returned.
A previous record was set earlier this year when 1.6 million Michiganders requested ballots for August’s primary election.
The deadline for absentee ballot requests is 5 p.m. Oct. 30. — Mansur Shaheen
Bernie Sanders to stump for Biden in Michigan
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to make stops in Michigan on Monday in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Sanders plans a speech in Ann Arbor at 1:30 p.m. and a 5 p.m. car rally in Macomb County. — Mansur Shaheen
Saturday, Oct. 3
Peters tests negative, enters quarantine
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters has tested negative for COVID-19, per his Twitter account, but says he’ll self-quarantine until Oct. 14 out of “out of an abundance of caution”.
Peters was potentially exposed to the virus on Wednesday when he sat near Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson during a Homeland Security & Govt. Affairs Committee meeting. Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning.
Three Republican U.S. senators have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday afternoon, alongside President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Some have speculated Republicans got the virus last Saturday at a White House celebration of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Peters is up for reelection Nov. 3 against Farmington Hills businessman and Republican challenger John James. — Mansur Shaheen
Friday, Oct. 2
Trump tests positive for COVID
President Donald Trump said early Friday morning that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19, a development that could jeopardize the health of the nation’s top official in the midst of a combative re-election campaign.
The news comes as Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to Michigan on Friday for a speech and voter mobilization event in Grand Rapids. Trump did not have any immediate plans to campaign in Michigan and last visited the state Sept. 10.
The president announced his diagnosis on Twitter at 12:54 a.m., hours after confirming that a top aide, Hope Hicks, had also tested positive for the virus.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
While it's not immediately clear if either have significant symptoms, Melania Trump said she and the president are "feeling good."
"The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence," Trump's physician, Sean Conley, said in a publicly released letter. "Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering."
As of early Friday morning, Biden had not yet commented on the news. — Jonathan Oosting
Thursday, Oct. 1
Biden campaign to begin door-knocking in Michigan
Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is poised to begin knocking voter doors in Michigan and other battleground states as soon as this weekend, abandoning the all-remote strategy it had employed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associated Press, citing a briefing by the campaign, reports Biden will “dispatch several hundred newly trained volunteers to engage voters across Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.”
The effort will focus on voters who “are considered difficult to reach by phone,” according to the report. Volunteers will be provided with personal protection equipment and given temperature checks. The campaign will also try to text message voters to let them know a knock is coming.
President Donald Trump’s campaign, in a coordinated effort with the state and national Republican parties, has been knocking on Michigan doors since June.
Republicans have claimed the masked-up canvassing gave them a distinct advantage. While Michigan Democrats argued voters appreciated their remote strategy given COVID-19, some party activists have questioned the reliance on phone banking and text messaging.
"Knocking on doors is the most potent effort that you can make as a campaign because people remember it," Steve Mitchell, a veteran GOP pollster, told Bridge in August.
"If you don't want to answer the door because you're concerned about COVID, you just don't answer the door. You still recognize the fact somebody was there and left a brochure." — Jonathan Oosting
GOP commits $9M to John James ads
The Senate Leadership Fund announced Thursday morning it is placing a new $9 million ad buy in the state in support of Republican John James in his race against Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.
The television and radio ads purchased will begin appearing on broadcasts starting Saturday.
“The only thing Gary Peters has accomplished over his years in Washington is to keep Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat warm for his successor. That person is going to be John James,” Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law said in a statement.
The Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC with the goal to “to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority.”
SLF’s ad buy comes a few weeks after Peters received an influx of cash from a “Get Mitch of Die Trying” fundraiser put together by Vote Save America. — Mansur Shaheen
Wednesday, Sept. 30
Group files FEC complaint against John James
John James’ campaign for Senate is the target of another complaint to the Federal Elections Commission, this time from the End Citizens United political action committee.
Per the complaint obtained by Bridge Michigan , the group alleges James broke campaign finance laws during his 2018 campaign against U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow when he used money from his corporate coffers to fund a super PAC ad to benefit his own campaign.
James now faces Sen. Gary Peters.
“In the final days of his campaign it appears that he had the company where he was CEO, Renaissance Global Logistics, contribute $10,000 to the Super PAC supporting his candidacy for a last-minute advertising buy, during the very short window just before the election when the transaction would not be disclosed until after people had voted,” the complaint reads.
This is the fourth FEC complaint filed against the James campaign in 2020. In late August, Michigan Democrats filed a complaint alleging that James had coordinated with a dark-money group with ties to Mitch McConnell. Michigan Democrats filed a complaint against James in January, and then once again in March, regarding his alleged illegal coordination with the dark money group Better Future Michigan.
“It appears that John James broke the law and hoped no one would catch him. In light of this new information, the FEC should immediately investigate John James and hold him accountable,” Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, said in a statement.
James campaign spokesperson Abby Walls told Bridge the complaint is a “laughable accusation regarding 2018 activity leveled in an attempt to save a failing U.S. senator’s campaign.”
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative nonprofit, filed an FEC complaint against Peters in December 2019, alleging the senator had posted talking points on his website in order to instruct outside organizations on what issues to run ads on. The Michigan GOP also made the similar allegations against Peters in early September.
End Citizens United is a PAC that was formed in 2015 with the goal to reverse a Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 that allows corporations and other private businesses First Amendment rights to free speech, allowing them to donate to and support political campaigns. — Mansur Shaheen
Biden to campaign Friday in Grand Rapids
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is returning to Michigan on Friday for a campaign event in Grand Rapids.
Biden will “discuss building back the economy better for working families,” according to his campaign, which offered no additional information but said it will announce more details this week.
The west Michigan stop will be Biden’s second visit to the state since securing the Democratic nomination. He campaigned in Macomb County on Sept. 8 and also made stops that day in and around Detroit.
Grand Rapids is an increasingly Democratic pocket in Kent County, a former Republican stronghold.
Republican President Donald Trump won Kent County by 3 percentage points in 2016, but Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer carried it by 4 percentage points in 2018. — Jonathan Oosting
Judge allows GOP to intervene in ballot deadline case
A Michigan Court of Claims judge allowed the state’s GOP-led Legislature to intervene in a case that contests the constitutionality of state laws regarding absentee ballot deadlines, allowing them to appeal her decision that would give voters more time to get their mail-in ballots to the clerk.
In a ruling from Judge Cynthia Stephens on Wednesday, she affirmed her prior decision to allow mail-in ballots that reach clerks’ offices up to two weeks after the election to count in the November election if they’re postmarked by Nov. 2 due to the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus, but allowed the state House and Senate to become parties to the case.
That gives the Legislature the power to appeal her decision. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel — who are the named defendants in the case — did not plan to appeal Stephens’ ruling.
If the Legislature’s appeal is successful, the ballot deadline extension could be reversed. Under existing Michigan law, ballots must be received by the clerk before polls close on Election Day in order to count. — Riley Beggin
Tuesday, Sept. 29
Election officials across Michigan have received 2.5 million requests for absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election, the Secretary of State’s office said Tuesday morning.
That’s an increase of around 150,000 requests over last week and tops the previous statewide record of around 2 million ballots requested in the August primary election.
Clerks have issued just over 2 million, and more than 28,000 of those have been returned to local clerks in the five days since early voting began.
A record-breaking 1.6 million people voted by mail in the August primary, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson estimates two to three times as many may do so this fall. That’s in part because of the coronavirus pandemic and because of a constitutional amendment put in place in 2018 that allows any qualified voter to vote absentee. In the past, voters needed a specific reason, such as being out of town on Election Day. — Riley Beggin
Trump, Biden debate on Tuesday
Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will square off Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio, for the first of three debates ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Bridge will watch the debate for any Michigan connections, which could include the future of the auto industry, manufacturing jobs, security of mail-in voting and the state-level impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News last week announced a preliminary set of topics for the debate, which will start at 9 p.m and run 90 minutes without commercial interruption online and on television stations across the country:
- The Trump and Biden records
- The Supreme Court
- The economy
- Race and violence in our cities
- The integrity of the election
Those topics are subject to change based on news developments, so it's possible Wallace could ask Trump about his "chronic losses and years of tax avoidance" reported Sunday by The New York Times.
The first debate comes as Michigan voters began to receive absentee ballots, which is expected to be a popular voting option this year given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a new state law that removed the requirement for an excuse to vote absentee.
The Ohio debate is hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, which is also serving as Health Security Advisor additional presidential debates on Oct. 15 in Florida and Oct. 22 in Tennessee, along with a vice presidential debate on Oct. 7 in Utah. — Jonathan Oosting
Monday, Sept. 28
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters’ re-election campaign getting an outside assist
Organizers of a “Get Mitch or Die Trying” fundraising effort – named for Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and put together by the liberal group Vote Save America – say they’ve raised $26 million and counting for Democratic Senate candidates after an influx of donations following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Sept. 18.
Fourteen campaigns will receive an equal share of all of the money raised through the fund, according to organizers. That includes Peters’, which as of Monday was in line for more than $1.8 million of the contributions.
“We include races based on whether resources are needed to make a difference in the outcome of the race,” the group said online.
Donations to the fund spiked after Ginsburg’s death, according to Tommy Vietor, who was a spokesperson for former President Barack Obama and now co-hosts the Pod Save America podcast.
Here's a handy graph of donations to the @crookedmedia Get Mitch fund since its inception. See if you can spot the moment when the news of RBG's death broke. https://t.co/Wrci2vZ6MK pic.twitter.com/t96lvnJuBC— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) September 19, 2020
Peters is facing a strong challenge from Farmington Hills businessman John James. A race where Peters once led his Republican opponent by double digits has now narrowed to only a few percentage points, according to data from Real Clear Politics.
Democrats are rallying against McConnell after the majority leader announced he plans to hold confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee in an election year, which he refused to do for an Obama nominee in 2016.
Trump nominated circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court vacancy on Saturday, as Republicans plan to move forward with the nomination in the coming weeks. — Mansur Shaheen
John James breaks silence, supports Amy Coney Barrett
Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James offered his support for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett over the weekend, making his position on the vacancy clear after a week of pressure from Democrats. “Partisanship should take a backseat to the Constitution,” James said in a statement on Twitter. Amy Coney Barrett is an accomplished and well-respected legal mind with an objectively brilliant career. I wish her a respectful and dignified hearing.”
Partisanship should take a backseat to the Constitution. Amy Coney Barrett is an accomplished and well-respected legal mind with an objectively brilliant career. I wish her a respectful and dignified hearing.— John James (@JohnJamesMI) September 26, 2020
Michigan Democrats had urged the Farmington Hills businessman to clarify whether he thinks President Donald Trump and the Republican-led U.S. Senate should fill a seat opened by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death weeks before the presidential election.
In 2016, a similar situation arose in the final year of the Barack Obama administration, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the president’s nominee, citing the upcoming election. McConnell plans to fill the seat this time, though, and Trump nominated Coney Barrett to the seat on Saturday.
“James hasn’t shown any independence from Trump – who he supports '2000%' - or McConnell,” Michigan Democratic party spokesperson Elena Kuhn said in a statement Saturday.
James’ opponent in his race, incumbent Sen. Gary Peters, released a statement last week calling for Supreme Court confirmations to be halted until after the election in November. — Mansur Shaheen
Friday, Sept. 25
Dems push James to stake position on SCOTUS vacancy
Michigan Democrats are pressuring Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James to say whether he thinks President Donald Trump should fill a new Supreme Court vacancy before the Nov. 3 election against Joe Biden.
In a statement released Monday, James called for unity and bipartisanship but did not weigh in on the timing for a successor to liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week.
Whenever a nominee is put forward, Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, who James is challenging, should “fairly and honestly evaluate the nominee on his or her merits, not on the basis of party politics,” the Farmington Hills businessman said.
But with Trump expected to name a nominee as soon as this weekend, Democrats are demanding James stake a position on the timing of a potential Senate confirmation vote. They’re accusing the GOP of hypocrisy four years after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a nominee of Democratic President Barack Obama because it was an election year.
Michigan voters “deserve to know if John James in ‘2000%’ behind Trump and Mitch McConnell or if he will honor the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and let Michigan voters decide the future direction of our country,” Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow said Wednesday in a statement.
Republicans are defending James and contend the Senate can and should act quickly to confirm Trump’s nominee, a development that would shift the court further right, perhaps for decades.
“James will make his decision, and make a statement one way or the other,” former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Friday in a conference call with reporters. “The point is, the current United States Senate, there’s plenty of time for the Senate to perform its constitutional responsibilities.”
Peters is opposed to a Senate confirmation vote this fall, saying in a Monday statement that “voters should have their voices heard, and there should not be a Supreme Court nomination until the next presidential term begins.”
The James campaign did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment. — Mansur Shaheen
Jill Biden set to visit Traverse City
Jill Biden, the former second lady and wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, is set to campaign for her husband in Traverse City on Tuesday.
The Biden campaign announced the pending trip Thursday but did not offer any additional details about the visit. The time and location are not yet known.
The campaign has already deployed Jill Biden to Michigan several times this month as it targets a state that Republican President Donald Trump narrowly carried in 2016.
She spoke Sept. 15 in west Michigan, where she was joined by Democratic congressional candidate Hillary Scholten of Grand Rapids. The former teacher also discussed school reopenings Sept. 10 in a virtual listening session with Michigan parents and incumbent Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly.
Michigan continues to get plenty of attention from both presidential campaigns. Trump held a rally in the Saginaw area this month and Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Traverse City in late August. Joe Biden campaigned in Warren this month, while running mate Kamala Harris spoke this week in Detroit and Flint. — Mansur Shaheen
Thursday, Sept. 24
Whitmer calls for investigation into Trump’s ‘politicization’ of COVID response
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are calling for a congressional investigation into what they say is President Trump’s “politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a joint statement released Thursday by the governors.
They cited reports last week that the U.S. Postal Service drafted a plan to send 650 million masks to Americans in the early months of the pandemic, but it was never put into effect.
The governors also noted reports that the Department of Health and Human Services implemented a policy recommending coronavirus testing only for people with symptoms, which didn’t reflect the views of many inside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That decision was reversed last week.
“It's increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration's political agenda,” the statement read. “As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root… Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”
Whitmer is one of four national co-chairs to the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the Democratic nominee for president. — Riley Beggin
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Karen Pence to make Michigan stops
Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence is visiting west Michigan on Friday as part of President Donald Trump’s campaign for re-election.
Pence will appear at an “Evangelicals for Trump” event in Holland at 11 a.m. at the Baker Loft event venue, as well as a “Women for Trump” event at 12:30 p.m. at New Vintage Place in Grand Rapids.
These visits follow appearances Tuesday from Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris in Flint and Detroit. Both Trump and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden have made appearances in the state this month as well. — Mansur Shaheen
How to register to vote, cast an early absentee ballot in Michigan
The 2020 election is just six weeks away, and many Michiganders are still trying to figure out how to register to vote in Michigan, how to vote in Michigan this year, and the deadline to register to vote in the state this year.
Bridge Michigan reporter Riley Beggin put together a guide on Tuesday, answering the questions many may have ahead of what will be a unique election in the wake of COVID-19.
Beggin provides information on how to check your voter information, how to apply for an absentee ballot, how to go through the step-by-step process of voting, and what to do in case you make an error while voting.
Keep the guide on hand, as it may be your best friend as we approach the general election. — Mansur Shaheen
Tuesday, Sept. 22
Kamala Harris: ‘Path toward victory… runs straight through Michigan’
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris campaigned in Flint and Detroit on Tuesday, urging Democrats to vote — and vote early by absentee ballot — in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“I do believe a path toward victory in this election runs straight through Michigan, and so I am here to speak with you, because you possess an ability to make a decision in this election that could impact hundreds of millions of people in our country,” Harris said in an evening voter mobilization event outside the Detroit Pistons’ practice facility in the city’s New Center neighborhood.
Wearing a mask, Harris was joined at the socially distanced event by former Pistons star Ben Wallace, Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others.
The Tuesday stops were Harris’ first in-person events in Michigan since Democratic nominee Joe Biden picked her as his running mate Aug. 11. Biden visited the state two weeks ago, and his wife, Jill Biden, campaigned here last week. Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have also both campaigned in Michigan in recent weeks, highlighting its importance to both campaigns.
“We will keep coming back, because so goes Michigan, goes the rest of the country as far as we’re concerned,” Harris said.
The U.S. senator from California blasted Trump for telling journalist Bob Woodward he intentionally downplayed COVID-19 in order to prevent public panic, saying the country “deserves better.” She also lambasted the president’s ongoing legal fight to invalidate the Affordable Care Act despite the global pandemic.
“In the midst of a moment that requires that people who are gravely sick have medical care and access to care without being burdened with worrying about whether they can afford it, he’s in court trying to get rid of it,” she said of the federal health care law. — Jonathan Oosting
Independent redistricting commissioner resigns
A new Independent member of the 13-person redistricting commission will be chosen via random selection on Wednesday morning after commissioner James “Ed” Decker resigned over the weekend.
Decker, who was one of five Independent members of the commission, which also includes four Republicans and four Democrats, quit the commission “due to changes in personal circumstances,” according to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office.
Decker is a 59-year-old from Fowlerville. He wrote on his application for the commission that he felt Michigan has become too politically polarized.
The commission was created by a statewide ballot initiative in 2018 to replace the traditional method of drawing voting district lines. In the past, the majority party in the state Legislature drew districts after the decennial census with approval from the governor. For the last two redistricting cycles in Michigan, the lines have been drawn by a GOP-led Legislature and approved by a governor of the same party.
The commission met for the first time on Sept. 17 and will conduct public hearings on potential districts over the coming months. Final maps will be adopted by the commission by Nov. 1, 2021 and enacted into law by the end of December 2021. — Riley Beggin
Absentee ballot requests top 2.3 million
A record-shattering number of Michiganders — 2.39 million — have requested an absentee ballot to vote in the Nov. 3 general election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office announced Tuesday.
That’s up around 100,000 ballots since last week and tops the previous record of around 2 million ballots requested in the August primary election.
More than 270,000 absentee ballots have already been mailed, said Department of State spokesperson Jake Rollow. The rest will begin being mailed on Thursday, when clerks are required to begin sending ballots to voters.
When absentee ballots are sent, it effectively begins early voting. The more than 1,500 clerks offices across the state will be open and available for people to vote in-person absentee. Many cities have chosen to open satellite locations to make it easier to vote in-person absentee or return ballots. Detroit will have around 20 satellite locations that will open on Oct. 5.
Voters can return absentee ballots by mail, in-person at their clerks office or a satellite location, or at a ballot drop box. “We recommend people get their ballot in the mail by Oct. 19” to account for any potential postal delays, Rollow said, though ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 will now be counted in the fall election. — Riley Beggin
Donald Trump touts nonexistent Michigan factories
While the rally President Donald Trump held on Saturday took place in North Carolina, Michigan became a talking point, as he falsely claimed the state was rewarded with manufacturing jobs from Japan for helping him secure the White House in 2016.
A fact check from the Associated Press deems his claims untrue, though.
Trump told a story of how, after winning the state, he approached then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and negotiated to bring auto manufacturing plants from Japanese based companies to Michigan. Trump said that “five car companies opened up in Michigan”.
This is wholly untrue, though. Per the Associated Press, “no Japanese automaker assembly plants have been announced or built in Michigan, let alone in one day, and there are no plans to add any.”
In total, the number of auto manufacturing jobs in Michigan have fallen under Trump, Bridge has reported. — Mansur Shaheen
Monday, Sept. 21
President Donald Trump encouraged Michiganders to vote early by mail on Monday, months after he questioned the security of mail-in voting.
“Attention MICHIGAN!” Trump wrote Monday afternoon. “Early voting has started AND absentee ballots are being mailed out. Take advantage of the early voting and absentee calendar. Vote in person today or request an absentee ballot here.”
Absentee voting in Michigan actually begins on Thursday, when clerks begin sending absentee ballots to those who request them. Ballots can be returned to clerks via mail, in-person or drop box until 8 p.m. on Election Day. For the 2020 election only, absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 (the day before the election) will be counted if they reach the clerk within two weeks of Election Day.
Attention MICHIGAN! Early voting has started AND absentee ballots are being mailed out. Take advantage of the early voting and absentee calendar. Vote in person today or request an absentee ballot here: https://t.co/zucV2H92tV https://t.co/APgsuVYP14— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2020
Trump has been an ardent critic of mail-in voting, calling it “rigged” and “bad, dishonest and slow” and claiming that it’s ripe for fraud. A Trump campaign spokesperson told Bridge in August that the president has always been supportive of mail-in voting, and it’s just universal mail-in voting that he thinks is fraudulent. — Riley Beggin
Slotkin, Junge square off in first debate
Debate season in Michigan gets underway Monday, as Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, and challenger Paul Junge, R- Brighton, meet for the first of three debates from 7 to 8 p.m. in Lansing.
It will be aired live on Lansing CBS affiliate WLNS and streamed online at wlns.com/live.
Slotkin represents the 8th District, which stretches from Lansing to northern Oakland County, and assumed office in 2019, after defeating two-term Republican incumbent Mike Bishop. Junge recently served in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in President Donald Trump’s administration. He has never held public office.
The next two debates are Sept. 27 on WDIV-TV’s “Flashpoint” program in Detroit and Oct. 6 on WHMI-FM radio in Howell. — Mansur Shaheen
Kamala Harris set to make two Michigan stops Tuesday
Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is set to make campaign stops in Detroit and Flint on Tuesday.
In the morning the senator will tour small businesses in Flint that have been hit by the coronavirus. At 4:30, she'll sit down for a roundtable discussion with Black men in Detroit. Afterward, Harris will participate in a voter mobilization event in the city to mark National Voter Registration Day and the first day that Michiganders can begin to vote in person.
Harris’ visit follows other recent stops in the Great Lakes state from the Joe Biden campaign. The Democratic presidential hopeful himself gave a speech to UAW union members in Warren in early September, followed by the launch of the ‘It Didn’t Have to be This Bad’ virtual tour across the state. His wife, Jill, made stops in Grand Rapids and Battle Creek last week.
Their opponent in the race, President Donald Trump, also made a recent appearance in the state, holding a rally at MBS International Airport near Saginaw in mid-September. The president is also set to hold a rally in nearby Toledo, Ohio, on Monday. — Mansur Shaheen
Peters: 'It's important for Biden to be in the state'
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters says he’s stressed to Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden that visits to the Great Lakes state are crucial ahead of the November election.
“It is important for [Biden] to be in the state,” Peters told Carol Cain of CBS 62’s “Michigan Matters” on Sunday, “it’s very important to be here and let folks know you care about Michigan and you’re talking about issues that impact us here in Michigan.”
Biden recently launched a virtual “It Didn’t Have to be this Bad” tour in Michigan, and appeared recently at a campaign event in Warren. His running mate, Kamala Harris, is set to visit Detroit and Flint on Tuesday.
Republican President Donald Trump, meanwhile, hosted a big rally this month at MBS International Airport in Saginaw County.
Polls have shown Biden leading Trump in Michigan, but some party activists have complained the Democrat is taking the state for granted, an oversight they claim is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s mistakes in 2016.
“There’s no question Michigan is a battleground state,” said Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who is up for re-election against Republican John James, a Farmington Hills businessman.
An in-person visit from Biden could help increase turnout to help Democrats down-ballot, Peters said.
“Many more people turn out in a presidential year than they do in the off-year elections. And they are often turning out for their candidate for president. So it has an impact on the whole ticket,” the senator said, “But really I think the biggest impact is the increase in turnout dramatically in the presidential year. We are seeing that now with absentee ballots that have already exceeded all records in terms of the number of people who will likely be voting absentee.”
Absentee ballot requests in the state have shattered previous records for the November election, with the number slowly growing by the day. Anyone is allowed to request an absentee ballot this election season no matter their circumstances, a change from previous electons.
Michigan is set to be a crucial, and even “necessary,” as Peters puts it, state in the November election. — Mansur Shaheen
Friday, Sept. 21
James narrows race against Gary Peters, new Free Press poll shows
Incumbent Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, currently holds a slight lead over Republican challenger John James, per a new poll released Friday by the Detroit Free Press.
Peters leads the race about 45 percent to 41 percent, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, meaning the race could be even, according to the poll. Five percent support a third-party candidate, while 9 percent of voters polled are undecided.
Per Real Clear Politics, Peters held a large lead in the polls for much of the summer, with an advantage of 10.8 percentage points in its poll aggregator in late June. The lead has narrowed following a blitz of TV advertising from James, a Farmington Hills businessman.
The same poll also found President Donald Trump, a Republican, trailing his Democratic challenger Joe Biden 40 percent to 48 percent. That is slightly down from Biden's 11 percentage point lead in July, according to the Free Press.
The poll involved 600 likely voters. — Mansur Shaheen
Thursday, Sept. 17
Trump attacks Benson over ballot error
President Donald Trump says that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — whom he called a “Trump Hater” — tried to confuse voters by sending absentee ballots to military members without Vice President Mike Pence’s name on them.
The Democrat Trump Hater Secretary of State of Michigan, purposely misprinted Ballots for the Military, putting the wrong names on the Ballot, and actually listing a member of another party as a replacement for Vice President @Mike_Pence. Everybody is totally confused by their...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2020
The president’s allegation on Thursday comes two days after it was reported that local clerks downloaded at least 400 ballots that listed Jeremy Cohen, the Libertarian vice-presidential candidate, as Trump’s running mate instead of Pence.
Benson’s office wrote on Twitter that it was “an isolated human error” that won’t be repeated, and her office doesn’t know how many of the ballots were sent to voters. On Wednesday, Benson said the problem was “a computer glitch” that was quickly addressed.
Secretary of State spokesperson Jake Rollow said in a statement Thursday afternoon that Trump’s tweet is “false and misleading.”
Clerks who sent out the ballots will be told to tell voters about the problem and send out a new ballot. Those who use the old ballot and vote for Trump will automatically include a vote for Pence, a Benson spokesperson told reporters. — Riley Beggin
Biden announces ‘It Didn’t Have to Be This Bad’ virtual tour in Michigan
The Joe Biden campaign is going on tour.
The campaign for the Democratic presidential hopeful announced the “It Didn’t Have to Be This Bad” tour on Thursday, which will be “spotlighting how Trump’s ongoing failure to handle the pandemic has devastated Michigan’s economy,” per the official release.
It will be a virtual tour, where politicians and Michigan based organizations will discuss the state’s economy in the wake of COVID-19.
The first event is 8 a.m. Friday. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown will be joined by representatives from UNITE HERE, a multinational labor union, and Detroit casino workers who have been laid off in recent months.
Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and founder of Fair Fight Action, and organization created to fight voter suppression, will join an event on Sunday. She will be joined by members of Michigan AFL-CIO.
Future events will be announced in the coming days, per the official release. — Mansur Shaheen
Michigan GOP files FEC complaint against Peters campaign
Laura Cox, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission seeking an investigation of Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield, on claims he is illegally working with outside groups to coordinate talking points used in ad buys.
In a Wednesday complaint, the GOP alleges the talking points from a webpage on Peters’ campaign website were used in ads paid for by the Senate Majority PAC that aired in Detroit, Flint and Lansing, and that the Peters campaign had coordinated the use of the same points.
Peters is running for re-election against Republican challenger John James, a Farmington Hills businessman.
“Gary Peters continues to use his campaign website to illegally coordinate with outside groups,” Cox says in the official release, “It is clear Gary Peters and his campaign are panicking as the polls tighten and illegally signaling to Chuck Schumer and other corporate groups to help his flailing campaign.”
A similar FEC complaint was filed by Michigan Democrats against the James campaign on Aug. 24, alleging that the Republican challenger had illegally solicited funds from the dark money group One Nation.
“This is just another desperate, baseless attempt to deflect from the fact that John James openly pleaded for dark money spending in this race to support him and is firmly in the pockets of Mitch McConnell, Betsy DeVos’ family, and the out-of-state-billionaires who have poured millions into propping up James’ campaign because they know he would work for them in Washington,” a spokesperson from the Peters campaign told Bridge. — Mansur Shaheen
Appeals court sides with Benson on ballot application mailings
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s decision to send absentee ballot applications to all of the state’s 7.7 million registered voters was legal, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
Benson had “inherent authority” under the state constitution for the mailing, appeals court wrote judges James Redford and Jonathan Tukel, both of whom are appointees of former Gov. RIck Snyder, a Republican.
Judge Patrick Meter, first appointed by GOP Gov. John Engler, dissented, arguing that only local clerks have the power to send out absentee ballot applications.
The court’s decision upholds a 2-1 decision from a lower court in the lawsuits brought by Yvonne Black and Nevin Cooper-Keel, former Republican candidates for the state House, and Robert Davis, a frequent litigator and activist.
Benson’s mailing drew criticism from state and national Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who called her a “rogue Secretary of State” on Twitter in May. — Riley Beggin
Wednesday, Sept. 16
Mitch McConnell raising money for John James
Republican Senate challenger John James is set to hold a private fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday night.
The fundraiser, initially reported by Roll Call, was confirmed by Bridge Michigan, which acquired an invitation to the event at 7 p.m. over Zoom. There is a fee of $1,000 per person or PAC to attend the event.
James, a Farmington Hills businessman, is challenging first-term Democratic incumbent Gary Peters. Per the invitation, the race is “officially a Toss Up.” Recent polls, per political website FiveThirtyEight, show Peters has a slight edge.
On Aug. 24, Michigan Democrats filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that the James campaign had illegally solicited $4.5 million from the dark money group One Nation, which has reported ties to the Senate majority leader. — Mansur Shaheen
Benson: Michigan could see 60%-70% turnout in November
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Wednesday predicted more than 5 million Michiganders will vote in the presidential election and said she expects more than 3 million will do so by absentee ballot.
That would nearly double the record 1.6 million absentee ballots cast in the August primary and rival total turnout from the 2008 presidential election. Already, 2.3 million Michigan registered voters have requested absentee ballots, said Benson, adding she expects about 60 percent to 70 percent of the state’s 7.5 million voters to cast ballots.
Michiganders voted to expand absentee voting in 2018, and the coronavirus pandemic has likely spurred additional interest in the option. But voters can still cast ballots in-person on Nov. 3, Benson reminded.
“When you do show up on Election Day at your local precinct, you will be greeted by workers wearing masks, gloves and face shields,” she said in a COVID-19 news conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “You will find the precinct to be sanitized with social distancing guidelines in place.”
Benson, Michigan’s top election official, thanked the Senate for approving legislation on Tuesday that would allow clerks to open absentee ballot mail envelopes a day early to prepare them for counting on Election Day. If approved by the House, clerks hope the pre-processing will help them report election night results in a timely fashion.
But Benson wants to give clerks more time and implored the Legislature to do more to ensure every vote is counted, such as allowing absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day to be tabulated even if they arrive by mail a day or two late.
Benson has repeatedly rebutted President Donald Trump’s claim that mail-in voting is unreliable and will lead to voter fraud. On Wednesday, she warned that the state is expecting efforts to mislead or misinform Michiganders about their legal voting options and announced a new reporting email address: email@example.com.
“If you see or hear anything suspicious, anything that sounds wrong or that is just plain confusing about your right to vote this year, report it to my office,” Benson said. — Jonathan Oosting
Ballots fail to include Mike Pence as vice-presidential candidate
About 400 early ballots downloaded by election clerks to be used by military and overseas voters from the state of Michigan have errors, the Michigan Department of State has acknowledged on Twitter.
A photo of the incorrect ballots was obtained by Detroit News and shows the ballot lists Jeremy Cohen instead of Mike Pence as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate. Cohen is the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, running with its nominee Jo Jorgensen. The Libertarian Party is listed without a vice president on the ballot. Pence does not appear anywhere on the ballots.
We do not know how many of these ballots were sent to voters, but clerks were instructed to immediately alert voters of the error and send a corrected ballot. Voters who use the incorrect ballots instead of corrected ballots will still have their vote counted. 2/2— Michigan Department of State (@MichSoS) September 16, 2020
“This was the result of an isolated human error and it would not happen again,” the Department of State wrote on Twitter, “We do not know how many of these ballots were sent to voters, but clerks were instructed to immediately alert voters of the error and send a corrected ballot.”
Per the tweet, if a voter does end up using one of the incorrect ballots then their votes will still be counted. — Mansur Shaheen
Tuesday, Sept. 15
Trump rallies ‘fly in the face’ of science, Gretchen Whitmer argues
Republican President Donald Trump's campaign rallies are potential “superspreader events” for COVID-19 and "fly in the face of the best science,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer argued Tuesday.
The Democrat’s comments came less than one week after Trump drew thousands to a crowded outdoor rally in Saginaw County, where many supporters were photographed without masks.
Whitmer was asked about Trump rallies after joining Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, at a small and socially distanced campaign stop in Battle Creek, according to pool reports.
"They violate the executive orders, without question," Whitmer said, apparently referencing various public health mandates she has issued, including one order that limits outdoor social gatherings to 250 people but generally exempt events protected by the First Amendment.
Whitmer is national co-chairwoman of the Biden campaign.
"We have taken some steps to ensure these venues understand what the law is, and I don't know that there's a whole lot more to add on at this juncture," Whitmer told reporters. — Jonathan Oosting
Monday, Sept. 14
Trump, Biden campaigns plan more Michigan events
The campaigns for President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden plan more events this week in Michigan, after both candidates visited the state last week.
At 7 p.m. Monday, musician Kid Rock, Donald Trump Jr. and former prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle plan a “Make America Great Again!” rally for the Republican president at Bumpers Landing Boat Club in Harrison Township.
At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jill Biden, the wife of the Democratic challenger, plans to visit Grand Rapids with 3rd Congressional District Democatic candidate Hillary Scholten, followed by a visit to Battle Creek that day with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Friday, Sept. 11
Bernie Sanders, Rashida Tlaib plan virtual town hall
Sen. Bernie Sanders plans a virtual town hall forum at 1 p.m. Saturday with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist; U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit; and others.
The event, which is available at https://live.berniesanders.com, focuses on Michigan issues and also features David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan; Bob King, a former United Auto Workers president; Ken Whittaker, the director of Movement Politics and the Michigan People’s Campaign; and Grand Traverse County Commissioner Betsy Coffia.
Absentee ballot requests break record
A record 2.1 million requests for absentee ballots have been filed in the state of Michigan ahead of November’s election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement.
The total surpasses the previous record of 2 million, which was set in the state's August primary.
“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Michigan’s citizens enthusiastically want to vote, and are taking advantage of the numerous safe, secure and reliable options they have to do so this year,” Benson said.
Benson called on state legislators to pass laws allowing local clerks to process absentee ballots before Election Day, which is legal in 18 states, and allow them to be counted if they are postmarked before then.
Nearly 9,000 Michigan ballots were rejected in the primary because of mail delays or signature issues in the primary. Republicans have said reforms are unnecessary, pointing to the August primary that saw high absentee balloting and few issues.
Michigan joins Ohio, another crucial swing state in the upcoming presidential election, in setting records for absentee ballot requests leading into November’s election. — Mansur Shaheen
Thursday, Sept. 10
New York Times correspondent booted from Trump rally
LANSING — Kathy Gray has seen a lot in her multi-decade run as one of Michigan's most experienced political reporters.
But what happened Thursday night at President Donald Trump's rally in Freeland was a first for Gray: The New York Times correspondent was removed from the event after posting photos to Twitter, including those showing “maybe 10%” of Trump supporters wearing masks.
First for me: Trump campaign tracked me down from pics i tweeted and escorted me out.— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) September 10, 2020
"I had done some interviews and was standing off to the side of the tarmac," Gray told Bridge Michigan. "They tracked me down from the photos I had taken and tweeted, came over and kicked me out."
Gray said she had entered the Trump rally through general admission because she was unable to obtain media credentials. She had missed Monday's credential request deadline by a day, Gray acknowledged, but subsequently reached out to the campaign multiple times to request access and got no response – until an official saw her tweets and alerted security.
"They said because I was using my work Twitter account and since I didn't have media credentials I couldn't be working there, and I had to leave," Gray said.
When asked about Gray’s account by Bridge, Trump Victory Michigan spokesperson Chris Gustafson said: “I don’t have anything to say on that.”
Crammed in crowd in the rain for trump rally in michigan. Not many masks pic.twitter.com/5DZ6JBVNK8— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) September 10, 2020
Gray said she has had difficulty getting responses from the Trump campaign in recent months. She noted other general admission attendees were tweeting and live streaming the rally from the crowd where she had stood."Everybody there was using a camera to record everything," she said. — Jonathan Oosting and Riley Beggin
Biden misstated military COVID deaths during trip to Warren
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden misspoke during a speech in Warren on Wednesday when referencing how many soldiers had COVID-19, according to a a CNN fact check,
Speaking to union auto workers, Biden said 6,144 military members died of the coronavirus and 118,984 were infected. Per CNN, the numbers cited by Biden were inflated by over 6,100 deaths and nearly 79,000 cases, according to reports by the U.S. Department of Defense.
An aide to the Democratic former vice president told CNN that Biden mistakenly cited the death and case totals from the state of Michigan.
His reference to the numbers followed reports in journalist Bob Woodward’s recent book that included audio from February of President Donald Trump saying he planned to publicly downplay the seriousness of the virus, and reports that Trump referred to deceased military members as “losers” and “suckers” behind closed doors. — Mansur Shaheen
Biden makes stops in Detroit
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden made additional stops in Detroit after giving a speech to a small group of union workers in Warren on Wednesday.
Biden stopped at a clothing store in northwest Detroit, where he answered questions about his demand that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration not rush a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day on Nov. 3. The former vice president said he instead wants the agency to take guidance from scientists and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“I hope we have a vaccine — tomorrow would be wonderful. But we’ve got to make sure there’s total transparency,” Biden told reporters, “because you know what’s happened already. [Trump’s] put pressure on some of the agencies to do things that they weren't ready to do.”
The president tweeted on Aug. 22 that the FDA may be delaying the vaccine testing process until after Election Day.
“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” the tweet reads.”
Biden made a second stop at the home of state Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, later that day, where he spoke with union officials from U.S. Steel Corp. about the “Made in America” plan he announced earlier in Warren.
Okay, I was sworn to secrecy. Once the police shut down Outer Drive, the secret was out. VP and soon to be President Joe...Posted by Tyrone Carter on Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Wednesday, Sept. 9
Whitmer says Trump’s Saginaw County rally 'distressing, to say the least'
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday said President Donald Trump’s planned re-election rally Thursday is “distressing, to say the least” and could spread the coronavirus.
“We have been following the science here in Michigan, we have a mask mandate, we’ve got gathering rules to ensure we don’t have super spreader events,” the Democratic governor told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she sees the presidential race tightening.— CNN (@CNN) September 9, 2020
"The big question people are gonna ask is 'are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?'"
she says. "…For the working class in this state... the answer is unequivocally 'no.'" pic.twitter.com/HwrkECsdxo
Whitmer, who is a national co-chair of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, spoke on the eve of the former vice president’s visit to an undisclosed facility in Warren at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. Trump’s rally is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at MBS International Airport in Freeland in Saginaw County.
Whitmer told CNN that Trump’s visit comes as coronavirus cases have steadily declined in Michigan. Early in the pandemic, Whitmer locked down the state and instituted several protections against indoor gatherings and large events.
“We’ve pushed our curve down, we’ve saved thousands of lives, we’ve gotten people back to work,” Whitmer said. “And events like this threaten all that sacrifice that we’ve made.”
The first major rally the Trump campaign scheduled this summer was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, which attracted large crowds Weeks later, Tulsa County, and the entire state, saw sharp increases in COVID cases, but Trump’s campaign noted the rally included safety precautions and there was no proof it led to a spike in cases.
The dueling presidential visits in Michigan come as a recent poll shows Biden’s lead narrowing in the state.
“The road to the White House goes right through the state of Michigan. I believe this race is tightening up,” Whitmer told Cooper. “I think that’s precisely why you see both of the candidates appear in this state this week and I would anticipate seeing them many more times between now and Election Day.” — Mansur Shaheen
Tuesday, Sept. 8
Slotkin, Junge announce fall debate schedule
Democratic incumbent Rep. Elissa Slotkin and Republican opponent Paul Junge will participate in three televised debates this fall, the campaigns announced Tuesday in a joint statement.
Junge, a former Trump immigration official, prosecutor and television anchor, is running to unseat Slotkin, the first-term incumbent representing Michigan’s 8th Congressional district covering portions of Ingham, Livingston and Oakland counties. It’s one of the most competitive congressional districts in the state.
The debates will take place:
- Monday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. on WLNS (Lansing)
- Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. on WDIV (Detroit)
- Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. on WHMI (Howell)
Slotkin, a former CIA analyst, won the seat from Republican incumbent Mike Bishop in 2018. President Donald Trump won the district by 7 percentage points in 2016. — Riley Beggin
Trump, Biden plan dueling visit as race heats up
Republican president Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden this week are set to return to Michigan, which has re-emerged as a key battleground for both campaigns.
Biden is expected in Warren on Wednesday for a 1:15 p.m. speech on “his plan to ensure the future is Made in America by all of America’s workers,” according to his campaign. It’ll be the former vice president’s first stop in Michigan since he rallied in Detroit on the eve of the state’s March 10 primary — and his first stop here since the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic pandemic that same month.
Trump is scheduled to speak Thursday evening from a hangar at AvFlight Saginaw, a private aviation company at MBS International Airport in Freeland. Trump last campaigned in Michigan in December, when he held a raucous rally in Battle Creek. He visited the state most recently in May, touring a Ford plant in his official role as president.
The location of Trump’s latest campaign event is a nod to the important role Saginaw County played in Trump’s victory four years ago. It was one of 12 Michigan counties the New York businessman flipped en route to his 10,704-vote statewide win. Former President Barack Obama won Saginaw County by nearly 12 percentage points in 2012, but Trump carried the county by about 1 percentage point four years ago.
The Trump campaign is offering tickets to the Freeland event online, but it’s not clear how many supporters will attend. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest executive order for COVID-19 limits outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 100 people, but the administration has generally allowed exemptions for activities protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The dueling visits show both campaigns remain committed to winning Michigan despite early polling favoring Biden. With more recent surveys suggesting a tightening race, the Trump campaign on Monday resumed airing television ads in the state, which Vice President Mike Pence also visited Aug. 28 for a campaign event in Traverse City. — Jonathan Oosting