A COUPLE OF months ago, Democrats were high on ousting incumbent Republican Dan Benishek in Michigan's First Congressional District.
They were pouring money and staff into the U.P. and northern Lower Michigan. They had an attractive, moderate candidate in Jerry Cannon who boasted law enforcement and military credentials as well as an outsider's status at a time when all of us were sick and tired of all the insiders in Washington DC.
So what the hell happened?
Word comes this week that some of the Cannon campaign staff are being pulled out and re-directed to other Democratic campaigns around the nation.
This, on top of a Roll Call report that $425,000 of anticipated pro-Cannon ads were being cancelled.
And this: Benishek has raised about twice as much cash as Cannon.
And finally this: the Rothenberg Political Report had been rating the First District race as "tilting" Republican. Now the rating is Republican "favored."
We don't have many reliable public polls up here, but apparently national Democrats have been doing some internal polling, and they're not encouraged. Thus, they're shifting some of their resources to other, apparently more promising races around the nation.
Unless the tea leaves are lying, this is shaping up as a nightmarish November for Democrats.
A NICE LITTLE display of bipartisanship in a ceremony in Marquette last week.
The Michigan Municipal League awarded its Legislator of the Year award to Republican State Senator Tom Casperson. Casperson accepted the award, but then called on Democratic State Representative John Kivela to come up and share it with him.
Huh? Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi calling on John Boehner to share an award with her, or Mitch McConnell singing the praises of Harry Reid?
Here's something else to consider. Kivela's a former auto mechanic, Casperson's a former logging truck driver, State Rep Ed McBroom is a dairy farmer, and State Rep Scott Dianda was a heavy equipment operator.
Not a lawyer in the bunch, no Ivy League educations, either. They're Yoopers from different parties who disagree on many issues but they get along. Actually like each other. Maybe there's a lesson there.
DON'T LOOK NOW, but Ishpeming is slowly re-shaping its image, building by building.
Aided by grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, developers are spending more than a half million dollars on re-doing the facades and interiors of four buildings downtown.
The biggest is the Gossard Building, formerly known as Pioneer Square. Years ago, it was a factory manufacturing women's undergarments; now it's a remarkably attractive home to about fifteen businesses--some of them artsy and entrepreneurial.
Developer Paul Arsenault is hoping the building, which honors its historical roots, will infuse a youthful, artistic energy into downtown Ishpeming.
He'll need some help. The town has some dedicated developers and businessmen and women, but driving through downtown, you're still going to see plenty of vacant, if not dilapidated, storefronts, and hardly a pedestrian on the sidewalks.
Maybe the Gossard is a sign of things to come. Who wouldn't want to see the revival of a once thriving downtown Ishpeming?
EVERYBODY LOVES LISTS.
Here's one of the latest. CreditDonkey, a bizarrely named website offering consumers financial news and advice, has just listed the Top Ten Happiest Cities in Michigan (population over 20,000).
Marquette placed eighth. Walker took first, Midland second and Allen Park third.
So you're asking, How do you determine who's happy?
CreditDonkey (seriously, change the name) listed several criteria including crime rate, household income, divorce rate, commute times...and the number of restaurants in town per inhabitant. Yes, we are generally going to be happier if we have more dining choices when we go out.
Here's the kicker: Of the top ten cities, Marquette had the most restaurants per capita. To be exact, we boast one restaurant for every 303 residents.
No surprise, we also had the shortest average commute time--12 minutes--and one of the lowest crime rates--one violent crime for every 1025 inhabitants.
YOU MAY HAVE seen Gale LaJoye working out recently at the YMCA in Marquette. Our world-renowned performance artist (clown? mime? silent actor?) is whipping himself into shape for what promises to be a grueling 48 show run at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis next January and February.
It's the longest run at a single venue LaJoye's ever done. Apparently, after 25 years, there's still a huge demand to see his one man show, "Snowflake",
based on a simple, decent man who used to walk the streets of Marquette. Audiences from Japan to Mexico and from Hong Kong to Great Britain have given him standing ovations.
LaJoye, who's 64, says his body is still holding up after all these shows--1500 and counting--but he's now convinced that next year will be the last for "Snowflake." Of course, he's said that for the last six years as well, but this time, he really means it. Really.
Regardless, he expects the final show, appropriately enough, to be here in Marquette. And then, eschewing retirement, LaJoye says he'll move on to something else. When you're a performance artist, what are you gonna do? Sit on your butt?
If you've got news, email me at email@example.com
If you'd like to receive Word on the Street when it's posted, go to Word on the Street by Brian Cabell on Facebook and "like" it.