It's time. Barack Obama's campaign politely asked Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to not attend the Democratic National Convention. Kilpatrick is a superdelegate because of a position he holds with the DNC. He's also under indictment for several felony counts including perjury and assaulting a Wayne County Sheriff's deputy. Pretty much every major politician in Michigan has either called on Kilpatrick to resign or publicly stated they hope the situation would resolve itself quickly so the city can "move forward." That's a nice way of saying Kilpatrick should resign.
Technically Kilpatrick's bail restrictions prevent him from leaving metro Detroit so he can't actually attend the convention anyway but publicly stripping Kilpatrick of his superdelegate status would a significant and positive step for the DNC and Obama. I'll explain after the jump.
Michigan will probably go Democratic in November but just barely. McCain is running well up here. That might seem surprising but understand that a state so dependent on the auto industry in going to live a candidate willing to drill everything including baby pandas (if necessary) for oil. Let's not forget the otherwise liberal John Dingell is a significant reason why toughening CAFE standards is so difficult.
Michigan is also a racially divisive state. The tag Michissippi rings true when it comes to race relations. In the 1930's and 1940's Michigan absorbed the south's wretched refuse and they brought their racial attitudes with them. George Wallace won the Democratic primary up here once and the Wallace voter-type is still a force in Michigan politics. As a white guy from a blue collar/Michigan background, believe me when I say that blue collar white guys in Michigan are looking for a reason to not vote for Obama. That his skin pigmentation is similar to Kwame Kilpatrick's would be enough. To win Michigan, Obama needs to distance himself from our slob of a Mayor in Detroit.
Obama wouldn't be throwing Kilpatrick under the bus either. Kwame Kilpatrick deserves all the crap he's being forced to eat right now. The guy richly deserves the title of America's worst Mayor.
Distancing himself from Kilpatrick will, ironically enough, probably help him in Detroit as well. Detroiters are increasingly fed up with the third-rate kleptocratic politics embodied by Kilpatrick and his ilk. His mother, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a member of the Appropriations Committee, nearly lost her seat in this month's Democratic primary. In a three-way race against two underfunded and underwhelming opponents she received only 39% of the vote. Even in the Detroit portion of her district, she received less than 50% of the vote.
Removing Kilpatrick will be a demonstration to Detroit voters, who have been too often let down by politicians of all stripes, that Barack Obama isn't business as usual. Get rid of Kilpatrick and send a clear message: A President Obama won't hop into bed with the same rank political hacks who have fleeced our school system (Detroit Public Schools is running a $400 million deficit), sold us out to polluters (half the City Council and Kilpatrick's father are under investigation for bribery relating to a sludge plant), and otherwise allowed this great city to rot on the vine.
Detroit needs hope and is ready for change. Barack Obama can demonstrate he is the man to deliver both by drawing a line in the sand and saying "Kwame Kilpatrick is not a part of my Democratic Party."