Michigan senator goes viral for rejecting ‘groomer’ label, 10 candidates file for governor: The week in Michigan politics

Katie R. Ochoa

LANSING MI — A Michigan senator went viral across social media this week after giving a speech on the Senate floor speech viewed more than 14 million times on Twitter.

Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, defended herself to much attention Tuesday after being labeled a “groomer” in the campaign fundraising email of her Republican colleague, Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton.

McMorrow’s spat comes as Republicans across the country are deploying unfounded accusations that children are being groomed by adults who support gay rights.

“I’m the biggest threat to your hallow, hateful scheme,” McMorrow said in her five minute Senate floor speech Tuesday.

Election season is looming over Lansing as candidate filing deadlines came and went this week. Dozens of congressional candidates and those running for state House and Senate turned required paperwork into their local clerks. Ten Michigan Republicans have filed for August’s primary election ballot for governor hoping to earn the GOP endorsement and run against incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer this November.

The Republican convention Saturday, April 23, will decide who earns their party’s endorsement to receive the nomination for secretary of state and attorney general.

Here’s what happened this week in Michigan politics:

See who’s running for Congress in your Michigan district

Michigan Congressional map

The Congressional map approved by Michigan’s independent redistricting commission Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.

There are 61 candidates vying for Michigan’s 13 U.S. House of Representatives seats this fall.

Click here to see which district you’re in.

Candidates were required to submit between 1,000 and 2,000 signatures by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19. Results are still unofficial, as the Secretary of State’s office combs through them to make sure the signatures are valid.

Michigan had 14 members in the House during the past decade, but are down to 13 after the U.S. Census revealed larger population gains in the southern and western states. Consequently, Michigan will also have one fewer vote in the Electoral College for presidential elections.

An independent, bipartisan commission redrew the boundaries of Michigan’s 13 congressional districts for the next decade. Take a look at the map below to see which district you’re in.

Michigan Democrat has powerful response to GOP fundraising email claiming she grooms and sexualizes children

Mallory McMorrow

Sen. Mallory McMorrow pictured in the Senate Chambers at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Neil Blake | MLive.comNeil Blake | MLive.com

Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, April 19, in response to being named in a fundraising email by Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton this week.

The email, published online by Michigan Advance and other news outlets, called McMorrow a “progressive social media troll” who “grooms and sexualizes kindergarteners.”

“These are the people we are up against,” the email from Theis’ campaign reads. “Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year olds are responsible for slavery.”

McMorrow posted a video of her Senate floor speech to Twitter, which has over 14 million views as of Friday morning.

Her video was shared by state lawmakers nationwide and caught the attention of Hillary Clinton, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and political voices across Washington D.C.

She’s raised more than $250,000 from donors one day after the speech went viral, according to her campaign.

2020 election still top issue for Republicans vying for Dana Nessel’s job

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks at a press conference on Monday, March 7, 2022 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Flint. Genesee County is set to receive more than $15 million that will go toward combating the opioid epidemic at the local level following settlements with the nationÕs three major pharmaceutical distributors and one of its largest opioid manufacturers. (Jake May | MLive.com)

At the March Waterford Township attorney general debate, the questions were submitted from the audience.

Election integrity was the most common topic.

Ryan Berman, Matt DePerno and Tom Leonard are vying for the Republican endorsement at the statewide convention Saturday, April 23. The winner isn’t guaranteed a spot on the November ballot – Republicans can overturn their choice at a separate August convention with a 75% vote.

But Saturday’s winner will be tough to topple without scandals between now and August, experts say.

Berman is a state representative, DePerno is a constitutional lawyer and Leonard was the former Michigan speaker of the House and current partner in the Plunkett Cooney law firm.

A few thousand Republicans will decide Saturday who should take on incumbent Democrat Dana Nessel.

Their choices? The Trumpster (DePerno), the establishment (Leonard) and the peacemaker (Berman).

Why Michigan voters don’t get to choose who will face Nessel, Benson

DePerno/Leonard

Attorney general candidates Tom Leonard, left, and Matthew DePerno, right, are vying for the Republican nomination. GOP delegates will make their selection at an April nominating convention. (MLive.com File Photos)

When choosing a governor, Michigan hosts an August primary to narrow the candidates on both sides. For example, voters will choose in August which of the 10 Republicans running for governor will face Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

But for many other races, like attorney general and secretary of state, those candidates are chosen by parties at their nominating convention, per a 1954 state law.

The nominating convention must happen in August. But a few cycles ago, Michigan Democrats concocted a way to pick their candidate early, by hosting an “endorsement convention.”

Endorsement conventions are “completely made up by the parties” and not part of state law, said John Sellek, CEO of Harbor Strategic Public Affairs, a Republican public relations firm. At these events, the delegates pick which candidates to endorse, in hopes of putting party infighting to bed earlier in the election season.

Republicans are hosting an endorsement convention this year for the first time, copying the play from the Democrats. There are 2,000 delegates and 118 at-large delegates from all 83 Michigan counties who get a vote – plus another 2,000 alternates waiting to fill in.

10 Republicans file to run for Michigan governor, prompting largest primary ever

MLive wins 24 awards in annual Michigan Press Photographers Association contest

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig announces his candidacy for governor amidst protests by Detroit Will Breathe on Belle Isle in Detroit on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Craig arrived after protesters had already taken over the temporary podium his campaign had set up at a public park, then shouted his announcement into a microphone seconds before aides escorted him to a waiting SUV. (Jacob Hamilton | MLive.com)

Ten Michigan Republicans have filed enough signatures to get on August’s primary election ballot for governor, as they jockey to be the GOP choice to run against incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer this November.

Republican voters will chose Tudor Dixon, Perry Johnson, Michael Markey Jr., Michael Brown, James Craig, Kevin Rinke, Garrett Soldano, Ryan Kelley, Donna Brandenburg or Ralph Rebandt.

Four other Republicans previously announced a run for governor but didn’t submit signatures before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline: Bob Scott, Evan Space, Articia Bomer and Austin Chenge. Chenge dropped out of the race and endorsed Rinke.

Candidates were required to submit at least 15,000 signatures but no more than 30,000 from registered Michigan voters to get their name on the Aug. 2 primary election ballot.

The state still needs to verify signatures and make sure voters didn’t sign for multiple candidates. Some signatures could be tossed, but candidates will make the ballot as long as they have 15,000 valid signatures. They also need at least 100 valid signatures from half of Michigan’s congressional districts.

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