Dr. Kevorkian's Lawyer Considering Run for Michigan's Top Job
Besides unknown candidates who only poll in the single digits, Michigan Democrats face a tough choice in the 2018 gubernatorial election: a candidate who stirs memories of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 failed campaign and another who could portray himself as the Michigan Democratic Party’s Donald Trump.
Michigan’s top Democrat admitted to the Associated Press in June they need to learn lessons from the 2016 election. But there is one other defeat that should be in their history books: the historic thumping then-Gov. John Engler (R) gave attorney Geoffrey Fieger (D) in 1998.
Fieger’s name was known in every household in Michigan in the 1990s. His fame came from working as the attorney and spokesman for Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist who helped 130 people commit suicide.
But Engler beat Fieger by more than 700,000 votes, 62 percent to 38 percent.
Twenty years later, Fieger is considering another run for the top office in Lansing,
“I’ve watched this state deteriorate to the point at which we can’t travel our roads. Our schools are disintegrating. We’re not paying workers what they should be paid. We’re engaging in a war on teachers," he told WKAR.
“I honestly believe that we have had a dearth, an absence of leadership in Michigan for so many years,” Fieger added.
A Target-Insyght survey of 377 likely Democratic primary voters showed if the election were in July, Fieger would have stood an excellent chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate.
The poll had Fieger tied at 35 percent with Gretchen Whitmer, a former state Senate minority leader who was presumed to be the favorite to win the Democratic primary.
Even worse for Whitmer, Fieger had the support of 50 percent of the voters surveyed in Metro Detroit. Winning there is critical in any statewide contest because Detroit and its suburbs comprised a region with 10 times the population of any other metro area in Michigan.
“The poll demonstrates where she’s weak, and it’s the same area where (Democratic nominee) Mark Schauer had problems four years ago within the urban core,” Ed Sarpolus, the executive director of Target-Insyght, told the Detroit News.
“The fact is Geoffrey Fieger can say, ‘I’m testing the waters here, I’m Michigan’s Donald Trump on the Democratic side,’ and he basically is tied with her,” Sarpolus said. “Gretchen Whitmer does not have a presence in southeast Michigan. She doesn’t have a presence in the minority communities.”
Whitmer’s weakness in Detroit isn’t her only problem. This where the memories of 2016 come into play. Liano Sharon, an organizer with the progressive group Michigan for Revolution, told MLive Whitmer is too much like Hillary Clinton.
Whitmer is a 45-year-old attorney and former state legislator who has already raised more than $1.5 million for her campaign. She was an outspoken critic of Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP.