That’s what Democratic Party candidates told supporters Friday during the largest political rally the University has seen this election year.
In 2000, Michigan elected its first woman U.S. senator, choosing Lansing Democrat Debbie Stabenow in a come-from-behind upset of Republican incumbent Spencer Abraham. Now, only two years later, another Democrat – Jennifer Granholm – could be the first woman governor the state has ever had.
“We made history two years ago when we elected our first woman senator,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Detroit, already Michigan’s longest serving senator and running for an unprecedented fifth six-year term. “Now let’s make history again when we elect our first woman governor.”
Granholm, darting across the state in the last two weeks before her Nov. 5 match-up with Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, told students it is time to turn Republicans out of state government. The GOP has held the governor’s office for the past 12 years under Gov. John Engler and has held majorities in the state House and Senate for the past four and 18 years, respectively. Granholm, as the attorney general, is the only Democrat in the executive branch of state government.
“In 2052, what will your grandchildren look back and see you have done?” Granholm asked the crowd of mostly students. “There’s thousands of pages of history waiting to be written and you have the pen.”
Granholm’s speech was aimed mainly at pumping up her supporters, though she did briefly touch on students’ issues.
“My husband and I had to pay $496 a month for 20 years to pay off our student loans,” she said. “Students shouldn’t have to mortgage their futures to pay for college.”
About 400 to 500 supporters turned up for the event. Among them was LSA freshman David Kelley, who is so far undecided in the race but said he usually votes Democratic.
“I support her positions on the issues and I think it’s time for a change,” Kelley said. “We’ve had Republicans for 12 years.”
Many of the speakers at the event took the time to blast Republicans for legislation initiated in Congress. The GOP still holds a majority in the House, but after Sen. James Jeffords’ defection to become an independent in 2001, the Republicans lost the majority in that chamber.
“They tried to cut back on Pell Grants and student loans – that’s what the Republicans have done,” said Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn, who is running for re-election in the new 15th Congressional District. And Rep. Lynn Rivers of Ann Arbor, who lost to Dingell in the August 6. primary for the 15th District seat, said, “As a way to speed up the economy, we don’t automatically think tax cuts.”
Not all attendees were Democrats, however.
“(Granholm) doesn’t have much concrete policy and, as far as public schools go, she sends her kids to private school. Dick Posthumus sends his kids to public school,” said senior Alex Bohl, co-chair of Eastern Michigan University’s chapter of Students for Posthumus. “I don’t know how she can propose all this new spending without raising taxes.”