Democrats exiting the sinking ship? Part 9: Michigan 

In recession-battered Michigan, Lieutenant Governor John Cherry is abandoning the race for governor. Cherry had been considered the frontrunner for the nomination, running far ahead of any other Democratic candidate in polls, but he has been trailing in polls against Republican candidates, the best-known of which are Attorney General Mike Cox and oustate Congressman Pete Hoekstra.

By all the standard rules, Michigan should be a heavily Democratic state. It voted 57%-41% for Barack Obama in 2008 (the McCain campaign ostentatiously and over the public objections of Sarah Palin took it off the target list in late September) and 56%-42% for Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and 57%-41% for Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow in 2006. It was a target state in 2000 and 2004, but was carried 51%-46% by Al Gore and 51%-48% by John Kerry. T

he standard rule is that voters move toward Democrats in time of recession, but that doesn’t seem to be happening in the state with the nation’s highest unemployment (14.7% in November). Granholm has a dismal job rating, and now Cherry is dropping out of the race to succeed her. Reportedly he has had trouble raising money, which is pretty astonishing considering that he has had a long career in Michigan politics and has been a stalwart supporter of labor unions.

Democrats still have a chance to hold the governorship. Possible nominees include Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernaro, a staunch defender on Fox News of the auto company bailouts, House Speaker Andy Dillon and former state Senator Alma Wheeler-Smith. But Cherry’s withdrawal suggests that the winds are blowing Republican in the nation’s number one unemployment state.

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Michael Barone

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