Party on the Peninsulas

The WØRD – “Competence”

From the Chair

Political campaigns too often revolve around what is flashy: tugging on emotions, sometimes even instilling fear if you vote “the wrong way.” It’s too easy to get distracted by high-profile wars with Disney, insults designed to tear down opponents, made-up scandals or conspiracies, dog-whistle appeals to our worst instincts, or sometimes outright lies.

What really matters in the long run: electing leaders who can get the job done. Competence isn’t exciting, but it matters. And we got another demonstration of the importance of competent leadership from President Biden (as well as Governor Whitmer and our state legislative leaders) this week:

The President calmly assured the nation for weeks that we would not default as a nation on our financial obligations. Despite a loud and seemingly unmovable cadre of right-wing Republicans in the U.S. House, the President brokered a compromise that both protected vital federal programs and made sure the nation paid its bills on time. The Governor and legislative leaders are, without fanfare, following through on making government work better: fixing the damn roads, protecting consumers from fraud, making Secretary of State branch offices far more efficient, and getting a balanced budget passed on time while cutting taxes for working families.

On this week’s podcast I’m joined by MDP’s Walt Sorg with an update on the how Democrats are demonstrating core competence in doing their jobs – meaning a better future for the people they serve.

News Stories About Politics and Policy

The WØRD – “Safety”

From the chair

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes

The safety and security of all of Michigan is at the heart of much of what has happened in Lansing since Democrats took charge in January. This week, the Governor added to that record, signing into law legislation allowing the courts to temporarily remove weapons from persons deemed to pose a major public safety threat, including those cases involving domestic violence. It adds to new laws already enacted requiring universal background checks and requiring safe storage of weapons. These are laws that were blocked for years by Republican legislatures who were held captive by the NRA and gun manufacturers but quickly enacted by our new Democratic legislature.

The Governor’s budget recommendations, now being finalized in the Legislature, include funding for improving security at our schools. And the latest efforts to increase our personal security were outlined this week – bills providing resources for local police to deal with the underlying causes of crime as well as give police greater resources to fight crime in our neighborhoods. 

Joining us to discuss how Democrats in the Legislature are working with our local leaders to make our communities safer is Lansing’s dynamic Mayor Andy Schor. Now in his second term, Mayor Schor is a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives. Lansing was the first city in Michigan to add a social worker to its police department, something that was controversial when Mayor Schor did it … but has turned into a major success.

Mayor Schor began his public service career as a member of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. As both a legislator and county commissioner he represented the same area once represented by former commissioner and legislator Debbie Stabenow!

Michigan Speaker of the House Joe Tate announces introduction of the Dermocratic Public Safety Act, joined by (l-r) Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights), Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn) and Detroit Police Chief James White.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Michigan politics and policy

Voting Rights and Candidates

The Culture Wars

The WØRD – “Legacy”

From the chair:

Building a legacy is the foundation for why we work so hard in politics. Our mission is to leave our children and grandchildren a legacy of a better life.
Defeating climate change, economic opportunity, uplifting families, promoting healthier lives, building a more perfect democracy: these are all a part of the legacy each of us can leave for the people we love.

Senator Mark Kelly and his wife, former Representative Gabby Giffords, are national leaders in the fight for gun safety laws.

“Legacy” was the theme of our annual MDP dinner which we held over the weekend, a special night where we focused on the truly special legacy of Senator Debbie Stabenow as she steps down from public life after a half-century of service to the people of Michigan. She was joined onstage by her Senate colleague Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) who, among many other achievements, is a national leader in enacting gun safety laws.

We share highlights of the dinner on this week’s podcast, including some very inspirational and emotional moments with Senators Stabenow and Kelly.

Stories We’re Following This Week

The Culture and Voting Rights Wars

“Unite the Country”
Trump: Unfit for Public Office (via


The WØRD – “Governing”

From the Chair:

It seems pretty obvious: we elect government officials to govern. But it doesn’t always work out that way. In Washington, congressional Republicans seem interested only in politically convenient investigations, threatening to knee-cap our economy through the unprecedented step of intentionally defaulting on our national debt, and criticizing the administration without offering solutions to the challenges facing the Biden administration.

On top of that, the leader of the Republican Party even went on national television to promise he would give pardons to most of the rioters who tried to overturn the government, defended his right to sexually assault women because “he’s a star”, refused to support the Ukrainian freedom fighters in their battle with Russia, lied about our economy, and lied about stealing and hiding classified documents at his golf club.

In Lansing, it’s a different story. No name-calling. Just quiet, competent governing. Governor Whitmer and the Democratic legislature are getting things done.

Gun safety, workers’ rights, voters’ rights, fixing our roads, strengthening our schools, investing in Michigan’s future: these are all issues where bills are being introduced and have either already passed, or are moving towards passage.

In the last week, both the House and Senate passed a new budget for the state months ahead of the October 1 deadline. The budget includes much-needed increases in funding for K-12 schools, workforce recruiting and retention, job creation, infrastructure, local road repairs and public safety.

Joining the podcast this week is Representative Regina Weiss, chair of the appropriations sub-committee on education, to gives us details of what is the single most important item in the state’s budget: school aid. Rep. Weiss is serving her second term representing the 6th House District which encompasses Huntington Woods and parts of Berkley, Oak Park, Royal Oak, Detroit, and Royal Oak Township.

Originally from Indiana, Weiss attended Valparaiso University before moving to Michigan to begin her career as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. She also served as an Oak Park City Council member until her election to the House in 2020, where she was a strong advocate for increased investments in the local community.

As a former educator, Weiss brings with her to Lansing an in-depth, intimate knowledge of the many issues plaguing Michigan’s public schools  and is dedicated to using that knowledge to help improve education policy at the state level.  She is chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 education.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Crime and Corruption

Campaigns and Candidates

The GOP Culture War

The WØRD – “Democracy”

From Chairperson Barnes


It is at risk. The continuing attacks on the integrity of our elections is a symptom of a more widespread attack by Republicans on the greatest democracy in history.

  • Republicans in two states have attempted to banish members of their state legislatures because they didn’t agree with the members’ political positions on two important issues: gun safety and civil rights for all Americans.
  • In Florida, the Republican governor and legislature are using the power of government to punish Disney Corporation for opposing the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws … echoing an attack used 2 years ago against cruise-ship companies that enforced COVID safety measures.
  • Florida has also taken away the right to vote from more than 1-million former prison inmates despite a statewide vote restoring those rights.
  • Just about every Republican state has used the excuse of non-existent election fraud to make it more difficult to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that in 2023 alone state lawmakers in at least 32 states pre-filed or introduced 150 restrictive voting bills… bills which contain one or more provisions that would make it harder for eligible Americans to register, stay on the voter rolls, or vote as compared to existing state law.
  • Extreme gerrymandering across the nation is distorting democracy beyond recognition, guaranteeing one-party stays in power regardless of voter preferences.
  • Ohio is enacting legislation to make it virtually impossible for citizen-led petition drives to put new laws or constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Michigan is increasingly becoming a beacon of democracy for the nation. In 2018 and 2022 citizen-led petition drives brought major reforms ending gerrymandering and expanding voter rights. Now, with the new Democratic majorities in the Legislature working hand-in-glove with Governor Whitmer, our democracy is being strengthened even more.

Joining us this week: Senator Sarah Anthony discussing one of those efforts: her bill to expand the rights of ethnic minorities to reflect their heritage and culture in a small-but-important way: through their personal appearance.

The daughter of UAW retirees and the first Black woman to serve as state representative in Lansing’s history, Senator Anthony is a champion of working families and marginalized communities. She is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is serving her first term in the Michigan Senate.

As Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, she earned a reputation as a pragmatic, effective legislator in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she passed multiple bills into law with substantial bipartisan and stakeholder support. She continues to fight to strengthen education, expand health care, reform Michigan’s criminal justice system and improve the economy for small businesses.

Senator Anthony was born and raised in Lansing’s south side. She has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and earned a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.

Stories in the News This Week

Michigan Politics and Policy


GOP War on Freedom

The WØRD — “Freedom”

President Biden’s reelection campaign is officially underway. President Biden has been the most effective president in decades. He has delivered for Michiganders and people all across the nation, and we at the Michigan Democratic Party are ready and excited to tell the success story of this administration to voters across our state.

From creating hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, to investing billions of dollars in Michigan infrastructure, to shepherding through common sense gun safety legislation, and bringing America to the other side of a global pandemic, President Biden has delivered time and time again.

I look forward to putting the President’s extensive record next to any and every MAGA challenger that throws their hat in the ring. I think we all know how that will turn out. And I’m especially proud that Gretchen Whitmer is the only Governor among the President’s 7 campaign co-chairs. That appointment shows the President’s tremendous respect for Governor Whitmer, and emphasizes the importance of Michigan to the reelection effort.

The forward-focused campaign of the President stands in stark contrast to this week in Republican politics, both nationally and within our state. While the President and Governor talk about continuing to rebuild our manufacturing economy, record-setting job creation, fighting to preserve our democratic system from GOP attacks, and fighting to stop GOP attacks on our individual freedoms, Republicans are in courtrooms at the defendants’ tables.

In Michigan, a former Republican Speaker of the House pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges with the prospect of the scandal ensnaring more prominent Republicans.

The Detroit News reported that a secret Oakland County grand jury is investigating prominent Republicans, including their 2022 Attorney General nominee, for felony election machine tampering. There’s a separate investigation into the fake presidential electors scheme, which includes the former co-chair of the state Republican Party.

Nationally, former President Trump is in two courtrooms: defending himself from criminal charges for lying in business filings AND is defending himself in a civil suit growing out of an alleged rape. In addition, the prosecuting attorney in Atlanta strongly hints that Trump faces indictment in Georgia this summer; and the federal special counsel appears close to filing criminal charges growing out of both the Mar A Lago documents coverup AND the January 6 insurrection.

Nationally there’s been a spike in hate crimes, fueled no doubt by divisive rhetoric from the right and Trump’s violent rhetoric dating back to even before his first White House campaign. The tally has reached the highest level since the government began tracking the crimes in the early 1990s

Joining us on the podcast this week: a Michigan Democrat who is taking on the growing spectre of hate crimes, Representative Noah Arbit.

Stories We’re Following This Week



Michigan Headlines

GOP Culture Wars

The WØRD — “Accountability”

Last Tuesday was Tax Day: the day when we filed our state and federal tax returns for 2022. For us, it was a day to hold legislative Republicans accountable for talking one way about taxes, and voting the opposite way. It was Republicans under Rick Snyder who enacted the pension tax. And, although they promised to repeal the tax, they never did.

After Michigan Republicans touted tax relief as a top priority, going so far as to sponsor bills in the previous legislative session to repeal the pension tax, they turned their backs on Michiganders when given the chance to bring relief to their constituents. Republican Minority Leader Matt Hall even attempted to take credit for the Lowering MI Costs bill package in spite of voting no.

Despite Republican opposition, Michigan Democrats were able to deliver relief, including repealing the retirement tax, to families, seniors, and public service workers. Additionally, Michigan families will pay less taxes on their 2023 income after Michigan’s 2022 financial report showed low unemployment, strong business growth, and an overall strong economy thanks to Governor Whitmer’s fiscal management.

When Democrats took control of the Legislature, we followed through on our promise to end the tax on retirees. It passed with most Republicans voting against the bill. So, on Tax Day, we held an online news conference holding them accountable. I was joined on the call by Jim Pederson who is president of the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and retired Kalamazoo school teacher Margery DeRuyter-Smith.

Jim spoke from the heart on how the pension tax pulled the rug out from under so many retired Michiganders. For Marjorie, the end of the pension tax has a direct impact on her health.

Stories in the News This Week

Michigan Political/Policy

The National Budget and Debt Ceiling Debate

Fox “News” Lawsuit

Gun safety vs. the NRA

GOP in Disarray


The WØRD — “Contrasts”

This week’s headlines provide stunning contrasts between Democrats and the current Republican party. The differences in the two parties span multiple issues:

  • In Florida, the right-wing Legislature and Governor have virtually outlawed abortions with a draconian 6-week limit – before most women even know they are pregnant.
    In Michigan, the 1931 law criminalizing abortion has been repealed.
  • Republican state Attorneys General are behind the lawsuit which would ban the use of the drug mifepristone for safe pharmaceutical abortions – another step towards a nationwide ban on abortions. They shopped their lawsuit to an anti-abortion activist appointed by Trump to the federal bench.
    In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel is actively fighting to protect womens’ reproductive health rights attacked by this horrible lawsuit.
  • Florida’s Governor went behind closed doors with NRA officials and pro-gun lawmakers to eliminate virtually restrictions on concealed carry of firearms.
    In Michigan, Governor Whitmer just signed two more gun safety laws, and the state House has approved a red flag law to get guns out of the hands of persons who have violent mental health or domestic abuse issues.
  • Tennessee’s Republican state House expelled two young African American members for speaking out on gun safety.
    In Michigan, the Speaker of the House is a young African American Democrat who is leading the political battle for gun safety.
  • More than a dozen Republican-run states are passing laws denying civil rights to trans people, many of them even banning medical support for their trans citizens.
    In Michigan we have a new law expanding civil rights protections to all, including LGBTQ+ Michiganders and a Governor who has flown a Gay Pride flag outside her office.
  • Across the nation, horrific climate events are killing dozens and causing untold billions of dollars in damages even as Republicans block meaningful climate change laws.
    In Michigan, home of the auto industry, the Whitmer administration is working hand-in-glove with manufacturers, the UAW and the Biden administration on transitioning to electric vehicles. 

Joining the podcast this week is one of the primary sponsors of the Clean Energy Future bills, Senator Sue Shink. Senator Shink is a community advocate, public servant, and mother who has dedicated her adult life to building healthier, more resilient communities. She is serving her first term in the Michigan Senate where she is fighting for working families.

She grew up in Southeastern Michigan and earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Prior to being elected to the Senate, Senator Shink served as Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and as a Northfield Township Trustee. She has just introduced the Clean Energy Future Plan – a direct response to the climate change crisis.

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Climate Change and Environment

Gun Safety

Reproductive Rights

Democrats in the News

Republicans in Disarray

The WØRD – “Democracy”

While Michigan Democrats continue to enact legislation focused on making lives better for working families, democracy is under assault from MAGA Republicans across the nation. The leader of the Republican Party has called for defunding the FBI and Justice Department even as their congressional leaders call for across-the-board cuts that defund police nationwide. MAGA Republicans continue attacks on fair-and-open elections, the civil rights of the trans community, the reproductive healthcare rights of women, and even on drag queens.

On this week’s podcast, MDP chair Lavora Barnes discusses

  • The expulsion of two Democratic legislators from the Tennessee House of Representatives
  • Still more criminal problems for Michigan Republicans
  • Attacks on the rights of transgender Americans by MAGA-dominated legislatures
  • Michigan’s new marketing campaigns for businesses, professionals and visitors: the un-Florida!
  • The big win for fair elections and reproductive healthcare rights in Wisconsin
The two federal court opinions on the use of safe pharmaceuticals for abortions have raised a lot of questions. Attorney General Dana Nessel provides some answers.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Reproductive Healthcare Rights

Marketing Michigan

Gun Safety and the Tennessee House Expulsions

State Government

Wisconsin Supreme Court

GOP Attacks on LGBTQ Rights

The WØRD — “Action!”

Another week, another shooting followed by more Thoughts and Prayers. At the federal level, Republicans make it clear that is all they are willing to do as innocent Americans are slaughtered, almost always with legally obtained AR-15 style assault rifles.

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature also offer sincere thoughts and prayers, but are continuing to move forward with action on common-sense gun safety laws that have the support of an overwhelming majority of Michiganders.

We are joined this week by the chair of the state House Criminal Justice Committee, Representative Kara Hope, on gun safety as well as protecting election workers from threats of violence.

News Stories We Are Following This Week