Duggan’s Removal From The Ballot Is A Disappointment But Not For the Reason You Might Think
Throughout Detroit and Southeast Michigan many jaws are dropping over today’s news that Mike Duggan will discontinue his mayoral campaign in the wake of two recent court rulings that he should not appear on the ballot in the upcoming election.
At issue is the question of residency. Section 3-111 of the Charter of the City ofDetroit states that “all candidates for elective office and elected officials shall be bona fide residents of the City of Detroit and must maintain principal residence in the City of Detroit for one (1) year at the time of filing for office…”
But last month another Mayoral candidate Tom Barrow charged that Duggan, a recent transplant from Livonia, was not a registered Detroit voter at the time of filing his nominating petitions on April 2. Though the Detroit Elections Commission by a 2-1 vote rejected Barrow’s complaint, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Lita Popke reversed that decision earlier this month. Her decision was upheld yesterday by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
While Duggan’s removal may indeed be consistent with the letter of the law it’s still a disappointment. I don’t say this because I was supporting his candidacy. In fact, I’m still reviewing each candidate and their respective platforms and will continue to do so before deciding who I’ll vote for in November.
But I, like many Detroiters, was looking for a spirited mayoral race and the debate and discourse that would ensue. Detroiters needed and deserved a real competition – not a coronation. However, Duggan’s removal from the ballot essentially ends the mayoral race months in advance of the November election and likely guarantees Benny Napoleon’s victory.
This is not to say that Napoleon would not make an outstanding mayor. But a tougher challenge would’ve forced him to make a better public case for why he’s the right person for the job.
Of course, there are several other candidates running for mayor, many of whom have tremendous skills and talents that they bring to the table. But the hard truth is that none of those other candidates have the political power base and or fundraising ability that a successful campaign for Detroit Mayor requires.
My prediction is this: Napoleon will win the August primary and likely win it by a massive margin. The second highest vote-getter in the primary will at that point be dismissed as a dark horse with no serious chance of winning.
There will likely be few, if any, post-primary mayoral debates. Top vote getters in situations like this typically decline to debate for fear of elevating their opponents. They can get away with it if the media and public at large have concluded that the race is effectively over.
This is why Duggan’s removal from the ballot is a disappointment. Even with an Emergency Manager in place restructuring Detroit’s finances, the selection of the right candidate for Mayor has never been more important. If all goes well, the EM will not be around forever meaning that Detroit’s next Mayor will be charged with redefining and reshaping local government in a way that could affect Detroit for generations to come. A real contest for the city’s top spot would have produced a higher level of public dialog on the candidates’ respective plans.
Detroiters needed and deserved a real mayoral contest. Instead it appears they’ll get a non-event.