PAYNE: GOP Rebellion went too far Tuesday
by Jeff Payne, Macomb Daily
November 11, 2016
This week, we experienced coattails like we’ve never seen in Macomb County. Let’s hope we don’t all trip on them.
As expected, Donald Trump marched through Macomb County in a manner not seen since Ronald Reagan created an entire new class of voters called “Reagan Democrats” in the 1980s. Unlike the late California governor, however, Trump’s coattails had a reach not even the most seasoned politico could have ever envisioned in a county that was viewed as a national bellweather.
The end result: Macomb County ushered in a new county clerk, Karen Spranger, who has absolutely no relevant experience for the six-figure job she is about to inherit and Larry Rocca, whose campaign platform was centered on the fact he is “pro-life.”
As much as some may think it’s important to have a “pro life” county treasurer, I can assure you Rocca, who chose not to reply to the county’s daily newspaper for days after his victory, will not have one iota of input on a woman’s right to choose.
And then there is the county Clerk-elect, who was thoroughly trounced by Warren Mayor James Fouts in Warren’s last city election. She inherits a position that she does not have one single bit of experience to prepare her for.
Does she know how to manage a qualified voter file, or even what a qualified voter file is? Will she maintain an incredibly competent staff assembled by longtime clerk/register of deeds Carmella Sabaugh? Judging by a list of confidants that she produced, including a “whose-who” list of individuals who have failed at runs for office more than five-time failed presidential seeker Eugene Debs, it’s hard to have much confidence.
It was apparent that the rock-star rallies The Donald held in Macomb County – twice in the last week of his campaign – had an impact on voters. In the past few days, I have answered calls and taken meetings with journalists from New York to Sweden about Trump’s allure here. His attraction to our voters – from Warren to Bruce Township – was not that surprising. What was an anomaly in 2016 was the ability of our voters to look down the ballot and make educated decisions about serious countywide races.
With that, we have what we have. Even some Republicans we spoke to Wednesday were shocked at the outcome as neither Rocca or Spranger had strong party backing. What is frightening is what could be lost.
Appointed-Treasurer Derek Miller continued and expanded a program started by the late Ted Wahby aimed at offsetting tax foreclosures. The “Keep Macomb Your Home” program gave legitimate options for those faced with tax foreclosure.
Fred Miller, a county commissioner seeking to replace Clerk and Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh who was a speed bump on the way to Mark Hackel’s ascension as county Executive in 2010, clearly had the knowledge and experience that would have suited the office best. But, the D next to his name cost him and likely cost county residents in the long run.
What a shame.