It sure was nice to see that Barry County Commissioner Jeff VanNortwick survived the recall attempt. As many of you surely know VanNortwick was singled out for voting for the TOST ordinance requested by the local health department despite being but one of seven commissioners to vote for it. As many of you also know, VanNortwick beat local Farm Bureau member Tom Wing by a handful of votes and has been a vocal critic of industrial farm pollution. It doesn't take a genius to see why VanNortwick faced recall while the other 7 commissioners who approved TOST got a pass. Many saw his narrow victory over Wing in the GOP primary as evidence of his political weakness yet VanNortwick managed to beat down the recall effort by focusing his energy on a positive grassroots effort that emphasized connecting with neighbors, relatives and friends, going door to door and practicing old fashioned retail politics. It didn't hurt his efforts that the recall campaign never offered anything besides criticism of TOST- one vote- to try to subvert the electoral process and the voters of Baltimore, Johnstown and Assyria Townships soundly rejected it.
While many people see serial recall-instigator George Hubka as the biggest loser in the failed recall effort, I would have to say that Barry County Democratic Party Chair Barb Cichy has a claim to that title in that at least at one time she had the respect of many people who now question her recent actions. Cichy, once a vocal critic of the failures and cronyism of the Southwest Barry Sewer Authority, seemed to be hell-bent on taking out a protector of the environment who happened to be on the ballot with an (R) next to his name. The Democratic Party should offer up a legitimate candidate and support them instead of trying assist this Quixotic effort. The party's political capital and energy would be better spent building up instead of tearing down. Cichy was also an opponent of the Charlton Park millage which was certainly at least understandable, but her free and easy way with numbers and facts in that campaign and the recall effort are not, and neither is her aligning herself and her party with some of Barry County's most suspect characters in the process. It doesn't further the interests of the party or the citizens of Barry County.
The big winner in the Michigan primary Tuesday night was Mitt Romney, whose mostly self-financed campaign had done well in early states but except for a shallow victory in Wyoming had yet to notch a win that would impress the Beltway insiders. Romney, son of 3-term Michigan Governor George Romney, had the name and the cash to make a stand in Michigan and pulled out a rather decisive victory over John McCain who had taken the state in 2000 and supposedly had momentum which now seems all but lost as they head to South Carolina which derailed McCain's 2000 effort and could do so once again. The nail in McCain's coffin in Michigan was more than likely his blunt and cold assessment of lost manufacturing jobs while Romney pandered and promised the moon, in the eyes of many in the media at least.
Meanwhile, the big loser at the state level was the Democratic Party and the voters. Because of Michigan's decision to move up in the schedule, the state was penalized by the national parties. While the Republican National Committee chose to make Michigan pay by taking away half its delegates, the Democratic National Committee meted out a harsher sentence and stripped the state of all its delegates and threatened candidates with punishment is they campaigned here which resulted in 2 of the 3 Democratic contenders removing their names from the ballot and thus not even making it an interesting diversion. While the country and the Republican candidates talked about the state's issues (which was the intent of those in the state who forced the change), the Democratic candidates were nowhere to be found. What followed was an absurd one-sided discussion which mostly focused on the same George Bush voodoo economics that hasn't worked and never will- and certainly not the cure for what ails us. The argument went mostly unchallenged in the political debate played out via news reports, commercials, etc.
If the national Democratic Party thinks it only punished Mark Brewer and Debbie Dingell then they're simply wrong. Even if they think they only hurt the Democratic activists in the state who might not get the best hotel rooms in Denver for the national convention, they're mistaken. The DNC's overzealous punishment has hurt the party's chances to hold on to Michigan and hurt the country by giving the Republican Party nearly a week of exclusive access to the airwaves and the public consciousness. Then again, Michigan voters probably had less exposure to the recent attempts to drag down the Democratic debate in South Carolina so perhaps the Democrats weren't hurt here so bad after all.