Here’s an interesting fact: Half of the eight candidates in Detroit’s mayoral primary are convicted felons, mainly for crimes involving drugs, firearms or assault with intent to commit murder. Could make for exciting council meetings.
Other than that, Tuesday’s voting in the nation’s 23rd largest city is just another contest among Democrats for municipal control of a decaying big city.
Democrats run two-thirds of the United States’ 100 largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles and, of course, Chicago. All are experiencing serious problems and with the turn-of-the-century two-term exceptions of New York under Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan in LA, enduring long periods of one-party control.
It’s been 55 years since Detroit elected a Republican mayor, just about the length of Detroit’s decline, as it plummeted from the nation’s automotive capital and one of the top 10 cities. Billions have been spent trying to renew the people and place.
Four years ago with an estimated $20 billion in debts, Detroit declared the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. That same year Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick began his 28-year prison sentence with no chance of parole for corruption and perjury.
It’s been a tough political road for America’s big cities under one-party rule that prohibits political cleansing. Chicago hasn’t had a Republican mayor in 86 years.
In those decades millions of working Americans fled big cities for the suburbs and ex-urbs and employers followed them, further eroding tax bases to support such things as inner-city schools and infrastructure. Detroit lost another nearly six percent of its population just between 2010 and last year.
Among the 100 largest cities, others also lost thousands of residents like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toledo, St. Louis and Cleveland. But Detroit’s losses were by far the worst.
With no national leaders and those in Congress in their seventies, Democrats have shown no sign of political rejuvenation, in fact, the opposite.
Under Barack Obama’s me-first political leadership Democrats lost more than 1,000 state legislative districts since 2010, giving Republicans the most state seats since the party was formed in 1854. The GOP, of course, also holds the White House and both houses of Congress, for now.
Thursday night at a Trump rally in Huntington as foreseen here, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced he was switching parties to the GOP.
That’s the first gubernatorial party flip for Republicans in a quarter-century. And it gives them an historic record 34 governor’s seats, 26 of them with control of both houses of the state legislature. Democrats hold 15 governorships, six with both houses.
This cripples Democrats’ development of a political farm team for federal elections. And it would seem to create a golden political opportunity for the GOP. “We are going to fix our inner cities,” Trump said in his Nov. 8 victory speech. Which is much easier — and more often — said than done.
Detroit’s primary contestants are all Democrats, of course. The top two finishers face off come fall.
Thanks to some impressive basic reporting by the Detroit News, we know their backgrounds. Not surprisingly, those with past legal difficulties say their records taught them about adversity and qualify them to oversee a troubled city of about 670,000 remaining residents. Polls indicate the two leaders are the incumbent mayor, Mike Duggan, and Coleman Young II, a state senator and son of the city’s first black mayor.
Neither has a criminal record.