Monday, August 27, 2007

Questions For Mark Schauer

This is going to be an exciting week for Walberg Watch. In addition to plenty of Walberg-related content and the next installment of the "Better Know A County" series, I'll be conducting the first candidate interviews. All four Democratic campaigns-- Berryman, Nacht, Renier, and Schauer-- have either approached me about this or been contacted by me, and I hope to get a chance to talk to all of them in the coming weeks.

But someone had to come first, and it ended up being the latest candidate to enter the race, Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer. I'll be speaking with him later this week. If you've got any questions you'd like me to ask, leave them in the comments.

Just remember, I won't be asking him anything like "When did you stop beating your wife?" If you really want your question to be answered, make sure it's a serious, fair question.

UPDATE [August 30, 11:33AM]: Thank you to everyone that offered questions. I'll be speaking with Senator Schauer this afternoon and, in order to prepare, I'm not going to take any more questions. Remember, if I don't ask your question, it doesn't mean I hate you. If anything, it probably means we didn't have time to talk about it or it means that I felt the issue was addressed by some other question I ask.

I may also re-word some questions to get the same information, but in a less confrontational way. For instance, I received these "questions" on the diary I posted at Swing State Project:
I have a few questions

1. You lied to your party, your caucus and your constituents in your on the record statement when you promised that you would not seek this elected position until you had served your full term as a Senator. This proves you can not be trusted

2. You lied on two separate occasions about having polling numbers that does not exist. He even claimed that the DCCC polled for him when they did not. By the way there is no such thing as intern polling for congressional race.

3. He voted in opposition in every case for refroms that would save hard working Michigan families from having to pay higher taxes?

4. You failed to secure Majority in the Senate in 2006 despite racking up major debt for your party?

5. What make you fit for Washington Mr. Schauer?
The user who posted that seems to have opened an account for the sole purpose of making that comment. In other words, it was probably a Republican troll. I might ask about polling and his time in the state Senate, but I most certainly will not phrase things in the same manner. I don't know if you've noticed, but even when I'm writing about Tim Walberg, I try to maintain at least a certain level of civility. If I were interviewing Walberg today, I would treat him with the respect any man in public office deserves.

So. I'll hopefully have a transcript of the conversation some time tonight or tomorrow.

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What is the difference between an internal poll and an external poll?

Is one better than the other and did your interal poll take into account an independent running for the seat?
At any point during the next year do you expect to redirect attention from your job as my senator to campaign for a job as my congressman?

I know both jobs are very difficult and I do not recall any candidates being able to direct their full attention to their "day job" during a run for office. I find this to be true even at the state house level.

I know you have compared candidates before (I recall a Renier/ Walberg piece where you used news quotes to give us the info issue by issue. Why not take that first article and expand the issues-- maybe give each candidate a few questions to quickly answer. Once Sen. Schauer is done, we would have Renier and Walberg and Schauer all side by side to see how those three stack up?

What do you think?
Here it is:

Monday, August 14, 2006
Walberg and Renier On The Issues
Just before the primary, the Adrian Daily Telegram provided issue positions for both Republican candidates and all four Democratic candidates. Taken from direct answers given from the candidates, it's interesting to see the contrast between Tim Walberg and Sharon Renier.

Below, the positions given to the newspaper (emphasis added):

Abortion: Candidates were asked for their positions on abortion.

TIM WALBERG, Republican challenger: Describes himself as 100 percent pro-life, saying “I believe that all life is a gift from God and should be treated that way.” Has been endorsed by numerous Right to Life groups.

SHARON RENIER, Democrat: Says she believes women should have a choice, but wants abortion to be as rare as possible. Renier says she has a different perspective on the issue than other candidates because she is a woman.

Environmental and energy policy: Candidates were asked whether they support tax breaks and incentives for alternative fuels like ethanol, and whether they support drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

WALBERG: Says he supports tax breaks for alternative fuels, saying “I’m committed to giving tax breaks to all citizens, including business.” Supports drilling in ANWR and says it can be done “discreetly and safely.”

RENIER: Says she “absolutely” believes in tax breaks for alternative energy, and also wants to look at incentives to homeowners who use efficient technologies to reduce energy usage. Opposes drilling in ANWR, saying: “Can’t we just leave our hands off something?”

Iraq: Candidates were asked for their opinions on the war in Iraq, specifically the withdrawal of American troops.

WALBERG: Says America’s leadership should be able to work toward withdrawal in a clearly defined, but secret, way, so as not to aid the enemy by fully disclosing the plan. Believes troop removal should not occur until American goals in Iraq are accomplished. Says completing U.S. objectives will send a “statement to all death spots in the world” and “honor those who have died fighting.”

RENIER: Believes the U.S. needs to begin pulling troops out of Iraq and allowing the Iraqis to concentrate on rebuilding their country. Favors a staggered plan of withdrawal.

Canadian trash: The candidates were asked if they believe Congress should intervene in the importation of Canadian trash to Michigan landfills.

WALBERG: Says that “there should only be an intervention from Congress in the perspective of dealing with the safety, security and health standards of people.” Believes international importation of trash is a detail in the process of free commerce and trade.

RENIER: Wants to see policies adopted where garbage that is generated must be disposed of locally.

Death penalty: The candidates were asked if they support the death penalty as it is used today in federal cases.

WALBERG: Says that “I support the death penalty under clear circumstances.”

RENIER: Does not support the death penalty.

Gun control: Candidates were asked to describe their positions on gun rights.

WALBERG: Says he supports the Second Amendment and believes it was written to protect the rights of individuals. Has been endorsed by the Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund.

RENIER: Says she is a card-carrying NRA member who supports gun rights.

Immigration: Candidates were asked to describe their opinions on immigration reform and say whether they had heard any national proposals with which they generally agreed.

WALBERG: Says the proposal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives has been the closest to his ideal plan. First, Walberg says, borders need to be secured. No amnesty will be offered, but the legal immigration process must remain open. Immigrants must have clear documentation. “As we find them, then we must deal with the illegals that are here and deal with the employers that knowingly hire illegal aliens,” he says.

RENIER: Says she has not heard the right proposal yet. Says employers that hire illegal aliens should be punished; that both the northern and southern borders should be secured, and does not oppose the use of the National Guard; and that she supports developing worker programs to let people legally cross the border for work. Does not support amnesty.

Gay marriage: Candidates were asked whether they support the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would change the Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

WALBERG: Supports the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying he doesn’t think “the Constitution should be easily altered,” but believes in this instance it is necessary to “control the activist courts.”

RENIER: Wants the government removed completely from defining marriage. Does not support any marriage-defining legislation.

Social Security: The candidates were asked for their thoughts on Social Security and whether they believe in President Bush’s proposals for partial privatization of the system.

WALBERG: Supports the president’s plan, including privatization of a portion of Social Security contributions.

RENIER: Does not support privatization.

Fiscal policy: Candidates were asked if they believe the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent.

WALBERG: Says the tax cuts should be extended and made permanent.

RENIER: Says the cuts should be repealed.

Illegal drugs: The candidates were asked if they support the legalization of illegal drugs or the liberalization of current drug laws.

WALBERG: Does not support legalization or liberalization.

RENIER: Says she supports legalization proposals because “the war on drugs doesn’t work.”
An internal poll is one done by a candidate or campaign. An external poll is done by an independent pollster. Schauer first claimed to have an independent poll from the DCCC showing him defeating Walberg by 3 points. The DCCC said Mark was lying. So now Mark says he has internal polling but won't release it. All we do know is that Schwarz is the one beating Walberg by 3 points in internal polling and Mark seems afraid to release his results, probably because they don't exist or don't show him winning. So far, none of his supporters have said otherwise.
Ask Mark, what experience he has in the National Security arena. Since he's never served in the military, what are his views on maintaining a strong national defense. Will he support the local military and vote for funding? How does he feel about Homeland Security? We're a border state.

These issues in DC are far differnt than dealing with those "Detroit Terrorists" who have held the legislature hostage for thirty years?!

Personally, I think he would be in way over his head in DC, but I said the same thing about Walberg and it's come to pass!
Senator Schauer:

Other than people you employ, who are the Democratic "big shots" who have supposedly begged you to run for Congress after you promised Senate Democrats you wouldn't seek other office?

Can you name any of these?
You have claimed that you have experience bringing Democrats and Republicans together to accomplish things for Michigan.

Can you point to any concrete accomplishments in the last four of five years in which you took the LEAD role organizing people behind a goal. I am not talking about electoral victories, but significant accomplishments such as major legislation passed or public initiatives that were successful because of your leadership. Not a supporting role, but a leading role.
This is out of hand. Maybe we should change the name of this blog to Schauer Watch - lately all it has been used for is attacking the fine Senator from Battle Creek.
As I have said in other places on the site, the question I want answered most is given that he has his current Leadership post based on a promise not to run for Congress and now has not only broken his promise but refused to voluntarily step down from that post, why would he expect voters to believe that he is anything but a self-serving politician willing to say whatever it takes to advance his career?

And Fitzy, if you do ask this question and he blathers on about how John Engler and others have run for multiple positions and how since he is the "best" candidate, it is thereforein the public's interest that he run and defeat Tim Walberg, please ask him for something more than political talking points crafted by some consultant/adviser.

Thank you.

-- William Flynn
I am ashamed, no make that disgusted, by my fellow bloggers. We have an opportunity to ask a sitting State Senator who is running for the US Congress questions on issue facing our state and country and all you people can come up with are snarky gotcha political questions about polls and pledges to run or not run. Give me a break you are no better than Fox News. If we are serious about new media then stop acting like the old media.

It is sure starting to feel like this site has been taken over by a bunch of opperatives for the Republicans and candidates. I'm not sure what to do about it but it really runs counter to all the good work you've been doing on Walberg.
What is the most pressing domestic issue America faces right now?

What needs to be done to ensure that every American has quality health care?

Where do you stand on trade issues?

What can be done at the national level to ensure that we don't lose more jobs here in Michigan?

With the budget problem at the state level right now, schools are starting to feel more of a crunch financially, what can be done at the national level to help schools all over the country?

What isn't Walberg doing in congress that he should be doing, and is he doing anything right?

What do you think about the threats that Ford and GM have made about moving their operations out of Michigan and even out of the country altogether unless the UAW makes the concessions they want?

That's all I've got for now, I'll probably have a few more hit me latter.
I agree there is far too much comment on Schauer here. The goal is to defeat Walberg. I'm an independent and I think what people are upset about is Mark showing up and being ordained as the messiah. I think he will be a good candidate and can beat Walberg, but from what I've seen he's not the Golden Boy everyone is making him out to be. There is a lot of image, but I'm more concerned with the substance and I'd like to see more of it from him.

The GOP pre-ordained Posty and DeVos and people don't like having candidates chosen for them and shoved down their throats. That's what has people upset about him and some of the reason for the backlash. IMHO
I agree that there's been too much talk about Schauer. But he and his supporters refuse to answer questions about polling that doesn't exist, his broken promise to his caucus about not running and how he's still going to serve as Democratic leader. Answer the questions and we'll stop asking. We've gotten tired of Walberg ignoring things he doesn't deem important. We should demand more from someone who wants to run against him.

I usually like to read your blog but things are really getting nasty. I believe you were genuine in establishing this blog as a forum to draw attention to our terrible congressman Tim Walberg, but all this candidate bashing does not help the race or any campaign to defeat Tim Walberg.

I would suggest you impose a moratorium on any candidate bashing and get back to highlighting Walberg's record. Without it, this site will quickly turn into the "Schauer Scrutiny Site" or "7th District Democrats Destruction."

Let all the candidate naysayers on all sides take their venomous rants elsewhere. This is out of control and disappointing to the average folks without a horse in this race that like all the quality research you do for the blog.
So, some people took Fitzy's call for questions seriously and sent in questions. Others took the opportunity to complain that Mark Schauer is getting some rough treatment here lately.

Well what do you expect??
This group of Walberg Watchers is probably the most clued in segment of anti-Walberg voters in the district. I check the site several times a week and post a few times a month, when the topic or mood strikes me. It has been a great site for over a year.

How many times have I read that Mark Schauer is not going to run, he is committed to being the Senate Minority Leader, the Democrats (Renier) cannot win, he is focused on the State's problems... How many times? And now he changes his mind because of a mythical internal poll (which originally was an independant poll? I missed that in the papers. If anyone could explain that one I would appreciate it.)

Anyway, now that Schauer has jumped in, he should get used to some tough questions. And his supporters here should stick to the issues rather than gin up conspiracy theories of who could be behind questioning the "obvious" best candidate.

Look at what we have done for the GOP. We have distracted the highest ranking, longest serving Democrat in the Legislature from his job at the Senate to run against Tim Walberg. We have a fairly partisan Democrat running against a bitterly partisan Republican in a traditionally Republican district. (And, newsflash, this is still a republican district--It just might not be a radically conservative, to the right of the GOP conservative district as Tim Walberg claims.)

If you think I am going to give Senator Schauer a pass and risk Tim Walberg as my Congressman for 2 more years, you are crazy.

We cannot ordain a candidate. We cannot choose who wins. The larger voting public does that. I do not think we are ever going to come to a consensus here at this site as to who has the best shot at replacing Walberg, but when Fitzy asks for questions, lets give him some questions.
I think the calls to ban all talk of candidates is funny.

Joe Schwarz took hits first, I think. Then we bashed Sharon Renier around a little. Jim Berryman, David Nacht? They have taken lumps for sure on this site. But as soon as Mark Schauer comes along, we should stop all the negative attacks? If you think there has ever been any sugar coating or kid glove treatment of a politican on this site, you must have only been reading it for a few weeks.

This is the real world, we are all adults and most of us are intelligent. I say Fitzy will be doing a great service by interviewing the candidates and I look forward to his insightful questions and write-up.

And the sooner Mark Schauer's supporters realize people don't like seeing dissent stifled, the sooner they will become useful to us all in bouncing Walberg out on his tail.
Isn't the title of this post "Questions for Mark Schauer?"

So why would anyone be surprised when the following threads are all questions that people want him to answer.

Sorry to you supporters of his who don't like the fact that not everyone is fawning over him...but unlike you, there are plenty of those in the district who are not yet convinced he is the best candidate.

And rest assured that when the opportunity comes to post questions for the other candidates, I have no intention of "pulling any punches." I want Walberg gone -- banished to the ash heap of irrelevancy -- and I'm going to make d*** sure that my support goes to the candidate best prepared to do that.

In the meantime, there are some questions that need to be answered, and it just so happens that Mark Schauer drew the first straw.

--William Flynn
I will try to bring the topic back to its (I think) intended one.

1.) Senator, what specifically would you have done in Washington, that Walberg has not? That is, votes taken, earmarks supported/opposed?

2.) Do you intend to continue running if you have to run in a Democratic primary?

3.) Please (w/o giving the store away to the other side) explain how you would delegate caucus responsiblities to other members while you campaign for Congress? That is, many examples of caucus leaders running for other offices have been cited-John Cherry (twice), John Engler, etc, however nothing has been mentioned about then Rep. Kilpatrick, Rep. Thomas or then Sen. Miller in the unsuccessful (by the caucus they were leading standards) attempts to remain as leader and run for other offices. As best you can, please show how you plan to seperate raising funds for the caucus and raising funds for a Congressional campaign.

4.) How do you see the special election playing out, should you win a Congressional seat?

Thank you. I hope this brings us back from the brink a little bit.
Q1: Sen. Schauer, how soon do you think we can start bringing troops home from Iraq?

Q2: Do you think the City of Detroit resembles the City of Baghdad?
Here's a few questions:

What is your position on the proposed new federal CAFE standards?
Do you want to extend Bush's tax-cuts?
What tax cuts/tax increases do you see as necessary to deal with the deficit?
What is your position on the recent FISA vote?
What kind of timeline would like to see us withdraw our troops from Iraq?
Did you support the Iraq War?
Who are you supporting for the Dem nomination for President?
How would you grade Gov. Granholm's performance?
To answer one of those questions, didn't Schauer already endorse Clinton?

I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I beleive I read his name on an endorsement for her. If anyone knows for sure, post it up.
Yes, a few months ago, Schauer did a loving, glowing op-ed in the Battle Creek Enquirer on why Hilliary should be the next President. Looked through the archives, but couldn't find it. He is firmly in the Rodham-Clinton camp.
From the site:

Schauer among four to lend support to Clinton

State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer & three other senators announced on Monday their backing of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton.
Without question, I feel that Hillary Clinton is the most ready to become president and is best capable of cleaning up the mess that President Bush has created," said Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

Sens. Robert Jones of Kalamazoo, Liz Brater of Ann Arbor and Gilda Jacobs of Huntington Woods joined Schauer in endorsing Clinton, of New York.

Schauer said Clinton is "battle tested," which will be important in a general election against any Republican nominee.

"I expect the Republicans will swift-boat any Democratic candidate," Schauer said, using Swift Boat as a verb in reference to the Vietnam veterans group that attacked Democratic nominee John Kerry's credibility in 2004.
1. "State Legislator for nearly 10 years" Could you clarify and in the interest of candor why not just say the exact number of years?
2. You mention "early childhood development" as a concern/cause. I am confused by "investing in prevention" and how this may or may not relate to early childhood development. Being an MEA member I am curious how the two relate.
3. You say you are a member of "Chambers" of Commerce. Could you be more specific on what "Chambers" consists of? Also could you explain the role of CofC in todays economy and your role working with them in the state Senate.
4. Curious to know what years you served as planner for Calhoun Planning Dept. and when you were serving as Coordinator for Calhoun County Human Service Coordinating Council?
5, Lastly, could you explain what you mean by "all-but-dissertation in Political Science and Urban Studies" means?
One more question:

From the Mark Schauer State Senate webpage:

"SB 416

Senator Schauer strongly supported Senate Bill 416 in the legislature out of his concern for what our children are exposed to in the entertainment industry. In today’s society many families include two working parents who cannot supervise their children twenty-four hours a day, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the same protections for their children against ultra-violent explicit material visible in a number of different entertainment mediums. Under this bill it would be illegal for retailers to sell such materials to minors. "

Question: What are your thoughts on the state and/or the federal government on defining 'ultra-violent' material and how would you contrast yourself on this subject with Congressman Walberg? Where do you agree and where do you disagree with votes and statements Walberg has made in the past?

Alan Goldsmith
While the questions you had on your update were harshly worded, I don't understand why you would shy away from asking most of them in a more respectful manner. They raise legitimate concerns. No one here would hesitate to ask Walberg tough questions (and plenty of people wouldn't be respectful.) Why the kid gloves with those who want our votes against him? And I'm disappointed you would fall into the argument that those who take issue with Schauer are Republican trolls. Democrats have concerns, too.
This is David Nacht. I am withdrawing from the race because I do not believe I have a realistic likelihood to defeat Sen. Mark Schauer in a Democratic Primary. I cannot in good faith ask for donations to support such a long odds effort.

I want to thank my wife and sons, my parents, my friends, volunteers and staff for the support over the past several months. Over 300 people made generous financial contributions. These will be returned to the donors on a pro-rata basis.

I intend to do whatever I can to assist the Democratic nominee in this race.

I am humbled by the outpuring of support. I have learned a great deal in the past several months. I will continue to be active in civic life, although I look forward to spending more time with my loved ones.

David Nacht
I'm really sorry to see Mr. Nacht go! While you have changed your mind regarding the congressional bid, I think you should run for a state level office. Best of luck to you and your family!
I agree that the tone of those 4 questions for Shauer were way too harsh. But I believe there is an honest question there, so let me try to frame it differently:

Senator Shauer: many of our readers believe that Walberg's support is weak and that there are already two strong Democratic candidates, each with a very good chance to defeat Walberg. To these readers, your decision to break your commitments and enter the race appears to benefit yourself more than the people of Michigan or the Democratic party. Senator, how do you respond to that viewpoint -- why do you think needs to be you, rather than Berryman or Nacht, opposing Walberg in 2008?
I think it shows good judgement on David Nacht's part to withdraw his name. I hope that Jim Berryman will do the same. He may have the same Michigan Senate experience, but it was 10 years ago. People in the 7th district have forgotten who he is.

Both these men are good; it's just that Schauer is better.

--voter in Jackson Cty
Jim Berryman deserves to run as much as anyone. If David Nacht chooses to bow out, that is his call. He might want to keep plugging away and look to run for state office.

Washtenaw County, especially Scio Township is not exactly a huge base. And, Scio does not have very much in common with any other part of this district. It is a neighboring township of Ann Arbor, arguably on of the most progressive towns in the country and surely one of the most liberal in the midwest. It does not fit into the 7th district well and its a shame it is divided from Ann Arbor as they definitly share more in the way of community interest than Scio with Branch, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Jackson, Eaton or Calhoun. The only other parallel I see might be up just outside Lansing, but the differences between Lansing and Ann Arbor are night and day.
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