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First term Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan) is a tea-party favorite. He boasts of limited government and individual liberties as he bucks his own party on votes time and time again. Unfortunately, his breaking from Republicans on key votes isn't because he's a moderate willing to work with Democrats, it's because his beliefs are so far to the right that he often refuses to go along with proposals being pushed by Republicans like John Boehner out of a belief that they are too "liberal."

Yes, Justin Amash actually thinks the obstructionist and socially-damaging Republican Congress isn't far enough to the right.

Congressman Amash's record of "standing alone" is highlighted in a new ad from his Democratic challenger Steve Pestka.  It shows how Amash was the single vote against bi-partisan proposals to ensure utility companies notify senior citizens before their heat is shut off, the single vote to allow convicted sex offenders to keep their medical license and the single vote opposing a bill that would ease financial burdens on our military serving overseas.

It's becoming more and more clear that Congressman Amash is more interested in representing his own radical agenda than he is the people of Michigan.  

If you haven't already, please visit the website of Steve Pestka who is running a spirited campaign against Amash.  Polls have this race tightening and national Democratic groups are looking to target this race and make sure that Justin Amash doesn't get a 2nd term in Congress.  


Most people know by now that the Democratic Primary in Michigan's 3rd Congressional district is a matchup between former State Representative & Circuit Court Judge Steve Pestka and former Granholm staffer Trevor Thomas.  The race started off as a typical primary battle between a more progressive candidate (Thomas) vs a moderate one (Pestka), but as nearly every Democrat in West Michigan (and throughout the state) has backed Pestka, Thomas' campaign has gone completely off the rails and is now becoming destructive for Democrats' chances in general to unseat Justin Amash in November.

The bulk of Thomas' campaign has been about labeling Pestka as an anti-choice, anti-woman candidate.  The irony in that, of course, is that Pestka has the backing of nearly every female progressive that's endorsed in the race (Gretchen Whitmer, Jocelyn Benson, Kate Segal, etc...).  Yet, we see Thomas continue to cite a vague vote from 12 years ago in the State House that he claims shows Pestka tried to defund Planned Parenthood.  Of course, a minimal amount of research shows that wasn't the case and in fact Pestka voted for budgets that increased funding for Planned Parenthood during his time at the Capitol.

Seemingly tired of playing defense, the Pestka campaign released a new commercial yesterday that takes a shot back at Thomas highlighting a portion of Thomas' plan that would raise the social security retirement age.  You can see the ad for yourself here:

While the ad seems fairly straightfoward, Thomas' response, however, shows him going completely unhinged:

"GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Trevor Thomas's campaign for Congress released the following statement and fact check in response to an attack ad Steve Pestka released today. Additionally, counsel for the Thomas campaign sent notice to stations broadcasting the advertisement advising that the advertisement constitutes defamation under Michigan Law and requesting that the stations require substantiation and cease running the spots immediately. "
Defamation?  Demanding stations cease running the commercial?  Awfully strong language to use unless you are 100% sure you're in the right.  Unfortunately, once again, this is proving to be another case of Thomas' destructive campaign that only serves to embarrass himself and potentially help the Republicans come November.

The Pestka campaign was quick to release the justification for the ad, and it's very self explanatory.  The statement in question in the ad is that Thomas "supports raising the social security retirement age," and while Thomas may not like hearing it used against him, here's the statement taken from his own plan on his website (note: he has since edited the text on his website to try to downplay the statement, but this is the screencapture of his site before that took place with the statement in question underlined)

Yes, the "lie" Thomas' campaign is now alleging against Pestka's campaign, their justification for legal action to remove the commercial from the airwaves, is taken directly from Thomas' own plan.

The sad thing about Thomas' campaign is that this could and should have been a positive race focused on ensuring Democrats have the strongest candidate possible to take out far-right extremist Justin Amash in November.  Instead, Mr. Thomas is only guaranteeing that this primary becomes costly in more ways than one for the Democrats.  

Prominent Democrats have already called on Thomas to stop lying about Pestka's record during the primary, but based on this latest action it seems that not only is he unwilling to do that, but when Pestka tells the truth about Thomas' own record, he's going to continue to lie about that as well.


While Democrat Trevor Thomas spent much of last week trying to hype up a phony poll that showed him in the lead in the primary race to face tea-party favorite Justin Amash in Michigan's 3rd congressional district, a new poll released today by highly respected firm Greenberg, Quinlan & Rosner Research shows that it is actually Democrat Steve Pestka that holds a commanding 24-point lead over Thomas in the primary race.  

From the Grand Rapids Press today:

“Steve Pestka starts this race with an imposing lead over Trevor Thomas, and is in a strong position to win this primary by a significant margin,” Andrew Baumann, a firm vice president, wrote in a campaign memo.
Unlike Thomas' poll that told respondents completely false statements about Pestka to shift support to Thomas' side, a move that caused some of Michigan's most prominent Democrats to condemn the poll and call on Thomas to stop spreading lies, this poll appears to be straightforward in its methodology, asking 400 respondents who they would vote for between the two candidates.

Unfortunately, instead of vowing to work harder to try to defeat Justin Amash, a goal that seemingly should be shared by ALL Democrats in West Michigan, Thomas' camp has once again responded to the poll by attacking Pestka and spreading the same misinformation about him that brought him nearly universal scorn from Michigan's Democrats.

While the Michigan Democratic Party has continued to ask both candidates to run a clean campaign so that the winner ultimately emerges from the primary ready to take on Congressman Amash, it would seem Thomas is more interested in attacking his fellow Democrat and taking a "win at all costs" approach to the primary.  Unfortunately, that isn't an approach that's likely to help him or the Democratic efforts at large in West Michigan.  Not that it seems he really cares.


While the Democratic primary battle between Trevor Thomas and Steve Pestka in Michigan's 3rd Congressional District started off as an interesting race between two very different candidates, things have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks.  While Pestka's campaign has racked up the endorsements of seemingly every labor group and local and state leader, Thomas has reacted by employing a strategy that could only hope to accomplish damaging both of the Democratic candidates to the point that neither of them stands a chance at beating the tea-party extremist incumbent Justin Amash in November.

As was reported in the Grand Rapids Press this morning, Thomas released selected results from a poll he had conducted that claimed to read the bios of both candidates to potential voters before asking them who they'd support.  Sounds fair, right?  Ehhhhh, not exactly. According to one of the people that was included in the poll sample:

“It started off like an objective survey, but when it got to the part of asking if I thought favorably of Thomas, instead of simply asking the question, the guy read an incredibly long and detailed account of Thomas' glowing attributes.  I started laughing. It was just silly. Note to Thomas campaign: tactics like this don't build trust or enthusiasm for your candidate.
But not only was Trevor's bio grossly exaggerated in what was read to those being polled, the bio of Steve Pestka put together by Thomas' camp was full of the same lies and distortions of Pestka and his record that have become the hallmark of Thomas' campaign.  Claims that Pestka voted to defund Planned Parenthood, would vote to ban abortions even in the case of incest and rape and even fabricating quotes from Pestka himself to try to back up those lies.

So, while Thomas cites the poll as evidence that he's the better candidate, when you tell those being polled that you like rainbows and kittens while your opponent hates women and everything they stand for, you're not only making the poll you're trying to brag about laughably inaccurate, you're showing you're willing to do and say anything in a desperate attempt to show you're relevant in the race.

Fortunately, it seems the Democrats have had enough.  They know they need a strong candidate to take on Justin Amash in November so some of the state's most prominent leaders in the Democratic party have thrown down the gauntlet, calling on Trevor Thomas to end his "win at all costs" campaign strategy and to stop lying about Steve Pestka.

Take the state's top female Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, for example:

"I was joined by thousands of women at the State Capitol this week to rally against continuing Republican attacks on women. I know Steve Pestka will be a constant advocate for women’s health in Washington.  West Michigan deserves better than Thomas’ political games and that's why our families, our neighbors and leaders from across Michigan are all supporting Steve Pestka."
Or Representative Kate Segal:
"Misleading people in order to try to score points is not a Calhoun County value.  Steve Pestka has focused his entire campaign on doing what's right for West Michigan families. The truth is that while in the legislature, Steve voted to increase funding for Planned Parenthood and to expand coverage for birth control mammograms and other women's health issues."
Apparently Jocelyn Benson also released a statement condemning Thomas' campaign, though I couldn't find the exact quote online.  Considering, however, these women are some of the strongest and most outspoken leaders Michigan has, particularly Gretchen Whitmer who helped organize a 3,000+ person rally at the capitol this week to fight for women's equality, it serves to demonstrate the absurdity of Thomas' anti-women claims about Pestka when nearly every female leader in the Democratic party has endorsed him.

Beyond the lies being strewn about by Thomas' campaign, the bigger question is what is he even trying to accomplish at this point?  His behavior suggests he no longer cares about whether we can rid Congress of Justin Amash, but rather that he's going to act like a schoolyard child that didn't get his way and so is going to take his ball and go home.  Except he's also going to light the schoolyard on fire on his way out.  

Frankly, it seems Trevor is taking cues from the Roy Schmidt playbook of West Michigan politics that says if you can't win fairly, try to cheat the system.  Much like Roy Schmidt found out, however, I think Mr. Thomas is going to find out that the people of West Michigan don't react well to those games.

For Democrats to defeat Justin Amash, there has to be a strong candidate that isn't bruised from an expensive and ugly primary.  While that candidate initially could have been either Steve Pestka or Trevor Thomas, that can obviously no longer be the case.  Not only is Pestka the choice of real leaders in West Michigan, but he's the one talking about real ideas and plans to get our economy back on track while Thomas continues to play the same tired political games.

This race is supposed to be about finding the Democrat that can defeat Justin Amash.  It's time for Trevor Thomas to read that memo.


Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 05:38 PM PDT

MI-GOV: Is Snyder Listening?

by msuryanj

I'll start this off by saying I LOVE what the Michigan Senate Democrats are doing lately.  Despite being in the minority, they are leading a vocal charge against what Governor Rick Snyder and Republican legislators are doing to Michigan and it's working class families.  

They've been producing a series of videos that have been gaining a good bit of attention that creatively ask the simple question: "Governor Snyder: Are You Even Listening?".  Today they released their latest one:

The fact that Governor Snyder actually believes his agenda equates to "relentless positive action" is frightening and kudos to the Senate Dems for so effectively pointing that out.

All of their videos are available at    

PLEASE join me in sharing these videos so that more and more Michiganders wake up to what Snyder's actions are doing to our state.


I really don't need to write a lot here, this video pretty much explains exactly how Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's tax plan works.  It takes more from working families and gives away nearly $2 billion in handouts to big corporations.  


Governor Rick Snyder announced on his Facebook page today that he was going to sign the tax bills passed by the Michigan legislature at a ceremony being held Wednesday at a Lansing area business.  These are the bills, of course, that raise taxes on senior citizens and working families to pay for a $1.8 billion tax handout to big business, a plan that even Snyder himself said might not create a single job in Michigan.

So while Governor Snyder may want to celebrate, word quickly spread about the event and protests were being planned.  The Governor's own facebook page lit up with angry commenters blasting his announcement:

It is a sad day when we cut school funding so that we can give businesses a break.
Recall Rick Snyder!
Dont remember seeing taking the shaft to the people in the Reinvention plan....Hmm.

As protest organizers were planning to descend on the business hosting Wednesday's event, Snyder must have gotten cold feet and pulled the plug on the event completely as it is now being held, in a much quieter fashion, in the Governor's own press auditorium in his downtown Lansing office.  Media invitation required, of course.

So he's now left signing a bill hated by Democrats and Republicans alike, holed up inside the safety of his secured office away from the sight and sounds of the public he is turning his back on.  At least his corporate CEO friends will still have his back.


Thu May 05, 2011 at 08:03 PM PDT

MI-GOV: Some Rick Snyder Humor

by msuryanj

I saw this on another forum and thought it was appropriate given the ridiculousness of the Governor's current plans that seemingly will destroy Michigan's public schools, send families reeling, and line the pockets of his corporate buddies.  


Michigan Democrats stepped up their efforts today to stop Republican attacks on labor that bear striking similarities to the recent events in Wisconsin that stripped workers of their fundamental rights to organize and collectively bargain.  

Under the guise of "balancing the budget", newly elected Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican majority in the legislature have pushed through a series of bills that would allow fairly negotiated contracts to be broken, prohibit communities from using project labor agreements that guarantee local employment on construction projects, and given an already struggling workforce new reasons to be worried about how they will be able to make ends meet.

One particular piece of legislation is not only being viewed as an attack on labor, however, but as a fundamental attack on the rights of voters to choose their leaders. The legislation would create "Emergency Financial Managers," unelected appointees of the Governor that would be sent into a struggling local community or school district, force that local governmental unit to pay them an uncapped salary for an undefined period of time, and have the power to overrule elected officials, dissolve any contracts that government has entered into with employees or contractors, and even go so far as to remove elected officials from office.  There are not only no clear triggers that would determine when and how these "managers" could be sent into communities, but there is no ability for voters within that community to have a voice in the decisions these managers are making.

Thankfully, it seems that Democrats in the State Senate are not going down without a fight.

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The momentum in the hotly contested race between Democrat Gary McDowell and Republican Dan Benishek for Michigan's 1st Congressional District has been on McDowell's side as of late.  Though he entered the race trailing Benishek in the polls, McDowell has been closing the gap, and, this week, has pulled the race into a virtual dead heat.

The reason for McDowell's surge in the polls is that voters in this moderate district are learning more and more about Benishek's extreme right-wing views.  Benishek rode a wave a tea-party support through the primary, but voters in the general election seem wary to support his agenda.

It comes as no surprise now that this week the major newspapers covering the 1st District have all come out in support of Gary McDowell.

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The Michigan Truth Squad has been keeping tabs on political commercials running throughout the state, and in it's latest review (read here) they call a pretty big foul on the Michigan Republican Party for their commercial entitled "Jocelyn Benson Caught Red Handed".

The commercial, which I already dissected myself here, makes all sorts of outlandish claims about Benson in an attempt to label her as some sort of political operative for a secret liberal conspiracy.

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Yesterday, I wrote about a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission against Republican Dan Benishek (read here).  The complaint, centered around Benishek's use of a private plane for campaign travel, calls for the FEC to investigate and sanction the campaign for violating FEC rules and federal law.  

According to news reports today, the plane in question belonged to a company owned by a supporter of Benishek's, and while Benishek's campaign continues using their excuse of ignorance, it raises serious questions about who else Dan Benishek is willing to take free rides from.

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