LANSING (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - While Democrat Mark Schauer is busy raising money, developing policy plans and putting his campaign plan into high gear for the upcoming race for governor, he's also quietly beginning the delicate task of choosing a running mate.
There are many things for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate to consider, like geography, gender and race. A candidate also needs to be able to raise a significant amount of money and be willing to attack the Republican candidate, most likely Gov. Rick Snyder. All those aspects are important, said Ed Sarpolus, a Lansing political consultant with Target-Insyght.
"Bringing balance to the ticket is about party principles," he said. "The party has built its reputation on bringing diversity to the mix: racially, ethnically and gender based."
So with Schauer hailing from Battle Creek and the only announced candidate for attorney general - Mark Totten - hailing from Kalamazoo, it makes sense that Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor and secretary of state need to include a woman, a minority and a resident of southeast Michigan.
Nearly all the names for lieutenant governor floating around the political rumor mill have been women, many from southeast Michigan: Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum and state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, have been the names that have popped up repeatedly as potential running mates.
Schauer's campaign would only say that he plans to pick a like-minded Democrat before the Aug. 5 primary election.
"Mark plans to select a running mate who shares his values and has a clear record of fighting for good jobs, good schools and protecting the middle class," said Schauer's spokesman, Zack Pohl.
All three women also were coy about their prospects. Both Byrum and Brown will be in the middle of four-year terms and wouldn't have to give up their seats to join the Democratic ticket. Tlaib can't run for re-election to her House seat because of term limits, but she has plans to run for the state Senate seat held by Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit.
"It's an honor to have my name mentioned and to have people encouraging me," Byrum said.
"Right now my attention is being given to the clerk's office," she added. "I'm working to make sure all registered voters have an opportunity to have their voices heard."
And when asked if Schauer should choose a woman as a running mate, she said, "I think more women need to be active in all positions of government."
Brown said she doesn't deal in hypothetical situations.
"I don't do 'what if?'... I deal with something if and when I have to deal with it," she said. "We've got plenty keeping me busy here."
Tlaib said she hasn't been offered the job, but, "I'm absolutely committed to the Senate race."
Other names that have cropped up have been Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, and state Reps. Vicki Barnett of Farmington Hills and Ellen Cogen Lipton of Huntington Woods, who are planning to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Vince Gregory, D-Southfield, who is planning to run for Congress.
"Democrats have to figure out what the balance is," said Robert Kolt, a Lansing political consultant. "What they won't have is someone just like Mark Schauer. Sometimes we make mistakes in picking candidates when picking just because of diversity. But others will argue that there is no mistake with diversity."
Republicans don't use the same criteria in choosing their statewide candidates, said Bill Ballenger, editor of the political newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. The 2014 election cycle could see a floor fight at the state convention in August when convention delegates choose candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general.
While gubernatorial candidates are generally given the prerogative to choose their running mates, tea party activists have promised a fight on the GOP side for the lieutenant governor slot to send a message to Gov. Rick Snyder that some of his policies and political stands don't mesh with their philosophy.
"Democrats agonize so much about filling these roles," Ballenger said. "And Republicans get criticized for being too homogenous and white, but it actually causes a lot less problems for them in putting together a ticket."
Detroit Free Press