Party on the Peninsulas

The WØRD – “Solidarity”

This Week’s Guest
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Stephanie Chang
on proposed new common-sense gun safety laws

From the Chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

For the first time in history, 13,000 United Auto Workers members bravely walked off the line on Friday at all Big Three automakers to strike for a fair contract after corporate greed got in the way of negotiations. The targeted strikes of three plants include the Ford Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI where Michiganders are fighting to be able to put food on the table. 

The UAW has brought reasonable demands forward to be compensated fairly for their work and to ensure a pathway for job security in a changing economy, but the Big Three chose to keep building on their historic profits and let their workers starve.

If the Big Three can find the profits to keep lining the pockets of their executives, they should have no problem supporting the workers who made those profits possible. Autoworkers built Michigan’s economy and have continued to be a central pride for the American economy. Workers have made countless sacrifices for our country that deserve to be repaid, and now, they are bravely fighting for the future of labor and our economy. The Michigan Democratic Party stands in solidarity with the UAW as they righteously strike for a fair contract and for a brighter future for Michigan.

75% of Americans side with the union’s 150,000 members in the ongoing negotiations, and this is a ‘which side are you on’ moment for this country. 

To save the auto industry during the Great Recession, autoworkers took massive cuts to their wages and benefits. While the auto companies have recovered and are making record profits, autoworkers haven’t and many struggle to make ends meet. When labor wins, the middle class wins and we are focused on ensuring that security here in Michigan.

Despite united opposition from the NRA and its Republican supporters in the Legislature, Democrats are continuing to work on gun safety bills. Hearings are underway in the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee dealing with one of the most common types of gun violence: shootings growing out of domestic disputes. One of the leaders for gun safety laws in Michigan is our guest this week: Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), the chair of the state Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety.

She is the first Asian American woman elected to the Michigan legislature. Senator Chang worked as a community organizer in Detroit for nearly a decade before serving two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives and then as the Democratic Floor Leader for her first term in the Senate. Senator Chang has built a strong track record of getting things done. In the state legislature, she has led on air quality and environmental justice, criminal justice reforms, affordable, safe drinking water, and immigrants’ rights issues. 

Before her election to the Legislature, she served as state director for NextGen Climate Michigan, alumni engagement and evaluation coordinator for the Center for Progressive Leadership in Michigan, deputy director for the Campaign for Justice and as an organizer for Michigan United/One United Michigan. Senator Chang earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degrees in public policy and social work from the University of Michigan. She lives in Detroit with her husband and two young daughters.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Biden Defends Striking Autoworkers: They Deserve a ‘Fair Share’ – The New York Times

VIDEO: President Biden Speaks Out in Support of UAW Workers

Michigan Politics and Policy

National Politics

The WØRD – “Perceptions”

Democrats Deliver Fact Sheet

Economist/YouGov Poll

This week’s guest: Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia)

This week’s guest: Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia)

From the chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

A new poll from The Economist and YouGov shows there’s a huge disconnect from what people believe is happening in America and what cold, hard statistics show is our very excellent reality. The perception: our economy is in a bad place, it’s getting worse, and the President has done a poor job bringing us back from the Trump-era downturn.

The numbers tell us something far different. The U.S. has the strongest economic growth since the pandemic of any leading economy in the world. While economists predicted a recession as the Fed raised interest rates, it hasn’t happened. The economy continues to grow:

  • Wages are rising—higher than last year and higher than before the pandemic, accounting for inflation
  • Annual inflation has fallen by two-thirds since last summer and has averaged less than 2% over the last 3 months
  • 187,000 jobs were created last month— a total of 13.5 million jobs have been created since President Biden took office (that includes 1.5 million in manufacturing, construction and engineering)
  • The unemployment rate is just 3.8% —under 4% for 19 months in a row—the longest stretch since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon
  • The share of prime-working-age Americans with jobs is at a 20-year high
  • The share of prime-working-age women with jobs is at a record high
  • We’ve regained all the jobs lost during the pandemic, and created 4 million more

You can download a “cheat-sheet” with a lot of the relevant data (a.k.a. “reality”). Just click here to download it. You can also download the polling from The Economist and YouGov to fully understand just how much the perceptions differ from reality.

We know that it’s perceptions that drive voters. Many of the assaults on reality are fueled by partisan Republicans and their right-wing media allies who constantly spread misinformation as they gear up for 2024. 

We cannot stand idly by and let those distortions and lies go unanswered. It’s something each of us needs to do every day in our personal conversations and social media. We have a great story to tell, backed up by facts. Let’s keep telling it.

We’re joined this week by the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Michigan House, Representative Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), lead sponsor of bills expanding the rights of women to make decisions on reproductive healthcare without government interference.

Rep. Pohutsky is serving her third term representing the 17th House District, which encompasses parts of Northwest Detroit, North Redford Charter Township and Northeast Livonia. She is a long-time activist and volunteer, and spent time as a crisis hotline volunteer and a caregiver at Angela Hospice.

Pohutsky graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in microbiology. After college, Pohutsky worked in the fields of food safety, toxicology and health care. She brings this knowledge, along with her experience in water quality testing, with her to the Michigan House of Representatives where she chairs the Committee on Natural Resources, Environmental, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation.

Joe Biden leading the world on the International Stage: “War Zone”

Stories We’re Following This Week

State Policy

State Politics


The WØRDS – “What’s Next?”

State Representative Sharon McDonell (D-Troy)

From the Chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

While assorted Republicans are getting booked, arraigned, found liable for slander and generally spending millions on defense attorneys, Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer are talking about “what’s next.” For Biden – what’s next is a battle with pharmaceutical companies over prices; for Whitmer – an ambitious “families and workers first” agenda for a fall legislative session.

The first half of the year was historic: a legislative session that passed a dozen major laws, all of which contribute to a future Michigan that is more prosperous, works to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change and expands the individual rights of our citizens. Last week Governor Whitmer took the unprecedented step of laying out an agenda for the fall session to do even more – her “what’s next” agenda.

Legislative Republicans responded as expected: arguing for maintaining the status quo or even moving backwards.They called it a “left-wing, progressive” wish list; one Republican leader said taking steps to combat climate change would turn us into a “third world country” unable to compete for jobs.

The bottom line is Michigan Democrats have delivered historic results for our state and are not done fighting for our future. This legislative agenda is laser-focused on making Michiganders’ lives better, with or without Republicans who continue to fall down a rabbit hole of MAGA extremism. Whether it’s improving health care, fighting climate change, or growing the middle class, what Michigan Democrats are doing is unprecedented. Democrats’ work is setting the standard for the country while ensuring that everyone can make it in Michigan.

In Washington D.C., it’s the same story. While Republicans focus on defending the former President’s crimes, staging hyped-up investigations, and even talking about impeaching President Biden just for revenge, the President is locked in on a better future for Americans. 

Just this week he announced his latest effort on our behalf: taking on the powerful pharmaceutical industry by negotiating the price Medicare pays for life-saving prescription drugs. There is no justifiable reason Americans pay four times more for prescription drugs than is paid in Canada: the exact same pills, a much higher price.
Thanks to the Biden Inflation Reduction Act the price of insulin is being slashed to no more $35 a month. Now President Biden is expanding the ability of Medicare to negotiate drug prices to 10 more commonly used prescription drugs.

Joining the podcast this week: a Michigan legislator who is part of the new wave of self-described Suburban Moms who are a growing political force in Michigan and across the nation, Troy state Representative Sharon McDonell.

News Stories We’re Following

State Politics and Policy

National Politics and Policy

The WØRD – “Contrasts”


Representative Kara Hope (D-Holt) — Chair, House Committee on Criminal Justice

From the Chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

Last week eight Republican presidential candidates staged their first campaign debate just hours before the leading candidate was booked for the fourth time in four months for a series of felonies. Those two events contrast sharply with what we as Democrats offer the state and nation. The GOP primary debate highlighted the extremism inside the Republican Party, with each candidate showing just how out of touch they are with the real needs of Americans by pushing conspiracy theories and culture wars over actual plans. 

Instead of following them down the rabbit hole, Michigan Democrats are prepared for a fall legislative session which is sure to be chock-full of more initiatives to uplift the middle class and put money back in the pockets of Michigan families.

And the booking of Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election? Republicans have long claimed to be the party of “law and order.” But six of the eight candidates on that debate stage said they’d support a convicted criminal to lead our nation; two of them pledged to pardon him on “day one.” The two candidates who won’t support a convicted felon poll in single digits.

Trump is even using his mug shot as a fundraising tool, apparently proud to be the only former U.S. President charged with being a criminal – a total of 91 felony counts spread over 4 indictments.

Trump and 18 alleged co-conspirators who allegedly worked to steal the 2020 election.

No matter how chaotic the GOP becomes, Michigan Democrats are focused on building a brighter future for our state every week, month, and year. Make no mistake, the MDP doesn’t take days off from working to deliver for Michiganders.

On this week’s podcast, we will talk with one of the leaders working on that promise. State Representative Kara Hope chairs the House Committee on Criminal Justice where she’s focused on issues like voter rights, openness in government and juvenile justice.

Clarence P. Jones, Dr. Martin Luther King’s trusted adviser was tasked with writing the opening paragraphs of what became known as the “I Have a Dream” speech. What happened after King moved away from the prepared remarks made history.

Also on the podcast this week: a special bonus. This week marks the 60th anniversary of the historic march on Washington, remembered forever because of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” oration.

At the end of the podcast we hear from Dr. King’s lawyer, Clarence B. Jones about that seminal day in American history. Jones wrote the first draft of a speech many consider the most greatest speech of the 20th century. He was standing just a few feet away as Dr. King used his voice to inspire future generations of Americans to work for a more just future.

Stories We’re Following This Week


The Nation

Culture Wars

Republicans in Disarray

The March on Washington 60th Anniversary



The WØRD – “Persistence”

From the Chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

Think back to the first months of the Biden administration. The President had laid out a hugely ambitious agenda – an agenda focused on improving the lives of American families by growing the economy from the middle out, lowering costs for families, attacking climate change and rebuilding our infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21st century – in short, fixing a lot of the failures of the Trump administration.

The critics said he couldn’t do it with his razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate. They pronounced his agenda dead on arrival

He persisted. And he succeeded. He passed the biggest investment in America’s critical infrastructure since the 1950s. He passed the CHIPS Act, spurring the return of computer chip manufacturing to the United States. He passed the first significant gun safety law in decades. And he passed the Inflation Reduction Act – a law providing historic investments in transitioning our economy by attacking climate change, a law that lowered healthcare costs for millions of Americans, and a law that guaranteed that massive corporations wouldn’t be able to use the tax laws to avoid paying income taxes.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of enactment of that law. To mark the occasion, your party brought together three leaders who have played pivotal roles in enacting and implementing that law: two members of Congress who represent automaking Michigan – Debbie Dingell and Haley Stevens, and Lt. Governor Garland Gilchrist who is on the front lines of putting so much of that law into effect. 

All of them are committed to transforming Michigan’s economy for the future and at the same time making sure Michigan’s incomparable labor force shares in the economic gains that are being created.

On this week’s podcast: a discussion with all three on the anniversary of the IRA: what it has already accomplished, and what it will bring to Michigan in the future.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Inflation Reduction Act First Anniversary

Climate Change

GOP Culture Wars

Politics and Politicians

The WØRDS – “Organize Now”

Political organizing – one door at a time!

From the chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

This week’s report is a little different with a couple of special guests, both of them experts in political organizing: state Representative Angela Witwer and our great senior U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. They recently headlined an MDP Virtual Event on organizing campaigns. On this week’s podcast we share highlights of that event.

Introduced during the seminar: MDP’s new Digital Tool Kit. You can download all of the great tools here:
Digital Toolkit – Michigan Democratic Party

Also this week: Michigan and national Republicans continued to make headlines – most  involving court cases and criminal investigations.

Here in Michigan, arraignments have concluded for the 16 fake electors charged with 8 felony counts for trying to steal Michigan’s electoral votes for election loser Donald Trump. 

An investigation is underway involving a former state House Speaker for some very questionable multi-million-dollar no-bid grants to his former staff aide. That’s on top of the conviction of another former Republican speaker for bribery, and an ongoing State Police investigation into a third former Republican speaker, as well as a campaign finance investigation into a former Senate Republican leader.

Of course the big national GOP story is the multiple criminal indictments naming Donald Trump and his supporters. We’re expecting even more indictments in the Trump-led conspiracy to steal the 2020 election – this time, from the state of Georgia. And attorneys general in several states are looking at following the lead of our great Attorney General, Dana Nessel, and looking to indict their states’ fake electors.

Ann Telnaes – Washington Post

There’s also even more in the growing scandal over Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The latest revelations from Pro Publica about the millions in luxurious vacations given to Thomas are stunning, as is the claim by Justice Alito that Congress has no right to impose ethics rules on the court. In effect, Justice Alito claims he and his 8 colleagues are accountable to nobody.

In non-crime-and-corruption news, the efforts of both Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer to battle climate change gained very tragic urgency again this week with the catastrophic fires that destroyed much of Maui’s largest city, Lahaina. Our prayers go out to the families and friends of the dozens who have died in that horrible catastrophe, and to the hundreds who lost homes or businesses. Scientists and local officials agree: climate change made the tragedy possible.

Joe Biden pushed the largest climate change in history through Congress. Polling shows a vast majority of Americans want strong action on climate … but those same polls show most are unaware of what President Biden has already done, and Republicans are vowing to repeal the President’s bill. Part of our job is to spread the word: Joe Biden is THE climate President! For detailed information:
Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook for Clean Energy and Climate Programs | The White House

Stories we’re following this week

The WØRD: “Cleanup”

This week’s guest: Rep. Rachael Hood (D-Grand Rapids), chair, Appropriations Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Subcommittee

From the chair


MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

It has been a big part of the work for both the Biden administration and the state Legislature: cleaning up messes left behind by the Trump administration, and a Republican state legislature that had turned a blind eye to many of the needs of Michigan families.

Our new Democratic Legislature has restored a pro-family, pro-worker agenda after decades of Republican-led legislatures that tilted the scales towards the wealthy. 

And now, our Legislature is working to make up for years of GOP neglect on the most important issue facing humanity: climate change. While Republicans are vowing to turn back the Biden administration’s pro-planet anti-climate change initiatives, Michigan Democrats are focused on contributing to solutions to save the planet. Although the solutions ultimately require the cooperation of every nation, there’s a lot one state can do as part of protecting the planet.

We’re joined on the podcast by a leader in the battle against climate change, Representative Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), chair of the Appropriations Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Subcommittee.

KEVIN SIERS Charlotte Observerver / News & Observer

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Climate Change

Michigan Politics and Policy

National Political and Policy

The WØRDs – “Delivering for Families”

This week’s guest: Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township)

From the Chair

Months ago, as the world was suffering through the post-covid inflation that hurt the budgets of so many families, economists were warning of a national recession. They said controlling inflation inevitably meant higher unemployment, and a shrinking economy.

They were wrong.

Instead – thanks to Bidenomics, Governor Whitmer, and our majority in the state legislature – more people are working and have more resources for themselves and their families. 

  • Our state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in 23 years, and only the third time it’s been below 4 percent since the 1970s.
  • The national unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon 54 years ago. 
  • Inflation has dropped to 3%
  • Wage growth is outpacing inflation
  • And the economy continues to grow

What does this mean for Michigan families? As President Biden rightly notes:

“Our unemployment rate remains near record lows, inflation has fallen by two thirds, real wages are higher than they were before the pandemic, and we’ve seen more than half a trillion dollars in private sector investment commitments in clean energy and manufacturing.”

As inflation falls and our economy continues to improve, Republicans may need to rethink their attacks on the Biden economy because 13.2 million jobs have been created under President Biden – nearly 4 million more jobs than before the pandemic. 

In the first six months of 2023 the Governor and our newly elected Democratic majority has approved a wide range of projects totaling a capital investment of over $452 million across the state. On top of that Governor Whitmer and Michigan Democrats have delivered for Michiganders: 

  • clean energy investments which create jobs, and help fight the climate crises that we are seeing on a daily basis
  • Common-sense gun safety laws, 
  • increased funding for education, protections for reproductive freedom, expanded civil rights protections, and 
  • repealing the anti-worker ‘right to work’ law. 

This historic progress is a constant reminder to continue to tell our story, knock doors, make phone calls, and talk to our community members to elect Democrats and keep the progress going. Let’s continue to uplift our message: Democrats are delivering for Michigan families.

We are joined by Rep. Julie Brixie to discuss talk two major accomplishments that grow out of twin tragedies on the MSU campus (a part of her district): gun safety laws, laws strengthening the rights of sexual assault victims.

Stories We’re Following This Week

The WØRD – “Criminals”


This week’s guest: Mark Brewer, attorney for six Democratic legislators threatened with recalls

From the Chair


No, this isn’t about murder or other violent crimes (which have actually decreased under the Biden administration). It is about the criminal element that is infecting a segment of the Republican Party.

Let me be clear: I’m not branding all Republicans as criminals. I know from my days working for the Legislature that the majority of Republicans in public office are good, well-intentioned people. We can and do differ sharply on many issues, but it is a healthy debate.

However: there have far too many stories about some Republican leaders, elected and appointed, charged with and (in some cases) already convicted of crimes. It starts, of course, at the top with former President Trump. In Michigan, the headlines are equally disturbing:

  • One former Republican House speaker convicted of accepting bribes, with investigations underway about two other former Speakers and a former Senate Republican leader
  • 16 Republicans indicted for their roles in the Fake Electors scheme, including a former state Republican Party co-chair and three elected officials
  • The 2022 GOP candidate for Attorney General, a state Representative and a county sheriff all facing indictments for tampering with voting machines

And now, Republicans are abusing recall elections to do what they couldn’t do in the 2022 election: gain control of the Michigan House of Representatives. Their 6 targets aren’t accused of crimes, malfeasance or misfeasance: the Republicans want them yanked out of  office because, in a couple of cases,  they voted to strengthen penalties against hate crimes … and for the others, because they voted to allow judges to temporarily take guns away from people who pose an imminent danger to themselves or others.


News Stories We’re Following This Week

State Politics and Policy

Smile a Little!

National Policy and Politics

The WØRD: “Focused”


This week’s guest: state Representative Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing).

From the Chair

Michigan Democrats are focused: focused on good policy, focused on spreading our message effectively, and focused on making sure we continue to steadfastly “pound the pavement” for Michigan Democrats.

This week, many of you have read about the Michigan Republican Party imploding within its ranks. Even though the MI GOP appears to be in disarray, we cannot will not let up or get complacent concerning our objectives and agenda.
Our message is strong: Democrats have a record of getting things done for the nation and state.
The Biden-Harris Administration is making a significant difference for Michiganders with more jobs, higher wages and lowering costs. Inflation across the country has fallen for 12 months in a row to 3%, the lowest it’s been in more than 2 years. Here in Michigan, Governor Whitmer and Democrats in the legislature are focused on policy that increases economic development, supports working families, expands personal freedoms and supports small businesses.
We can see the results in our daily lives:

  • Gas prices have dropped $1.50 a gallon; prices for used cars, airline tickets and even a dozen eggs are down from a year ago.
  • If you want a job, you can find one. 13.2 million jobs have been created during the Biden-Harris administration.
  • The President and Democrats in Congress are taking on Big Pharma to lower prescription drug costs and cap insulin at $35 a month for seniors.
  • Investments in clean energy creates jobs, and moves against climate change which is devastating the nation.
  • And the President has strengthened America internationally, restoring and expanding the critical NATO alliance and taking the fight to Putin with unified support for Ukraine.

Republicans? They are focused on the past, working to take us back to the 1950s…and continuing to fight democracy by supporting the Big Lie, enacting voter-suppression laws, protecting the polluters who are behind climate change and fighting to lower taxes for the wealthy.

Focused on Our Record as Democrats

From the Governor: What’s in the Budget to Lower Costs for Michiganders?
From the White House: FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Lower Health Care Costs and Protect Consumers from Scam Insurance Plans and Junk Fees as Part of “Bidenomics” Push – The White House

Joining this week’s podcast is state Representative Emily Dievendorf from Lansing.
Before being elected to the House, Representative Dievendorf enjoyed a long career in public service and advocacy. They served as executive director for Equality Michigan, president of the Lansing Association of Human Rights (LAHR), vice president of the board of the Firecracker Foundation (which advocates for survivors of childhood sexual trauma) and board member of the Lansing Area AIDS Network and the Ingham County Women’s Commission.
They were federally appointed in 2015 to the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and later served as co-chair. For nearly a decade, they worked in the Michigan House of Representatives for Democratic state legislators, including as chief of staff for Rep. Andy Coulouris. They also co-founded a nonprofit bookstore in downtown Lansing.
As a legislator, Rep. Dievendorf is passionate about advocating for progressive policy, particularly on LGBTQIA equality, racial justice and equality, sexual and domestic violence, women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS.
A proud Spartan, Rep. Dievendorf graduated from James Madison College with a bachelor’s degree in social relations. They’ve lived in Lansing for 25 years.

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Federal Courts Underfire

Michigan Policy and Politics

National Policy and Politics