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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Bill Ballenger
After weeks of speculation, Michigan's GOP-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday pushed ahead with a bill to make this historic labor stronghold a right-to-work state, sparking a clash in the state Capitol and setting up what could be an epic fight watched by union and management supporters nationwide.
The abrupt resignation of five-term Republican Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter has created a logistical and financial nightmare for election officials in Michigan, who now must organize a statewide primary, a special election for Mr. McCotter's district, and a general election in November all in the space of three months.
Challengers to U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. say the well-known Detroit Democrat is running on historical reputation and not recent record. And with redistricting adding more conservative suburban voters to Michigan's 13th District, they think the incumbent may be vulnerable in the state's Aug. 7 Democratic primary.
He chairs one of Capitol Hill's most powerful committees, won his 2010 race with 62 percent of the vote and even boasts a niece who graced Sports Illustrated's swimsuit-edition cover. But all that hasn't saved Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan from a strong Republican primary challenge.
Republican Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra of Michigan has pulled a Super Bowl ad that had some Asian-Americans and political analysts crying foul, but one rival, seeking traction ahead of an August primary, is seizing upon the China ad campaign as "demeaning."
In the Motor City, the fight over who gets the keys is becoming increasingly intense. Detroit city officials and activists such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson are stepping up their campaign to retain local control as Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, nears a decision on whether to appoint an emergency manager to keep the financially crippled city from going under.
Political observers are using a sports analogy when speaking about Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and the likelihood of a new and controversial bridge being built that would link Detroit and Canada: the ball is in his court.
He won the state in 2008 by nearly 18 percentage points and pumped billions of tax dollars into the effort to save its flagship industry.
The nation's bumper crop of 10 Republican governors-elect, still basking in the afterglow of their victories, are already facing a reality check. And the reality facing incoming Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a one-time computer executive in his first elective office, may be as tricky as any in the country.
Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick beamed as her son and rising political star, Kwame, vowed during his first ceremonial oath of office to faithfully serve the citizens of Detroit as their mayor. She called the Jan. 4, 2002, event the highlight of her life.
Bill Ballenger, the publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, said right-to-work backers run the risk of a major backlash if they end up losing the legislative battle.
"I think a lot depends on the response from the Democratic Party and organized labor — what they decide to do in the next few weeks, assuming it passes," he said. "I do think it complicates life for the governor."