Northern Michigan Party Leaders React to Democrat Debates

The last two nights of debates have brought the 20 democratic candidates to Detroit. After taking each other on for more than two hours each night, all 10 candidates on Wednesday mentioned President Trump as the real opponent.

Here in northern Michigan, we talked with both Republican and Democrat party leaders.

Grand Traverse County Democratic Party Chair Chris Cracchiolo says, “Certainly a lot of the candidates got to show their face and get in front of the national public. A lot of candidates trying to hang on with some desperate attempt to make some news. ”

For Steve Yoder, who’s active with the GOP in Leelanau County and also serves as a Republican State Committeeman, he says “For me they’re just trying to outdo each other.”

Twenty candidates on stage, each trying to make their mark with voters. At times – attacking each other. Yoder says, “My perspective? I think it shows the party is pretty disenfranchised. Right now for the Democratic Party they’ve got 20 candidates and they have to pick which one they want. That shows to me there’s not very much unity in their party right now.”

Cracchiolo feels there is still a unified goal, even if it needs tweaking. “Certainly we want to avoid any fracture in the party but really I really think at the end of the day they all agree – on healthcare. They just don’t agree right now on how we get there. We agree on providing healthcare to everybody. It’s just how do you do it? Do you collect Medicare for all, do you contribute, is it free? I think we’ll figure that out in the next year.”

But for Yoder, he was surprised by the differences. “Them debating each other to see how far left they can go to make each other happy – it was shocking to me. I think healthcare as a business person, healthcare has to be a competition for the lowest price. If you have government run healthcare you aren’t going to lower the price.”

Several candidates did touch on the auto industry and union jobs, which got reactions from the crowd.  Beyond that, Yoder wanted more talk about Michigan.  “I think the biggest shock for me last night was that there was no topic discussed about the Great Lakes. How to keep the Great Lakes clean. That’s something that all of our individuals in Congress have worked on, and there was no discussion on that.”

But with a national audience Michigan was certainly not a major focus. And with 20 candidates over two nights, both men agree that’s too many for voters to keep track of.  Cracchiolo says, “I think it’s very early in the process. I try not to get caught up on which candidate I’m going to support, because with 20 candidates it’s just as easy within the next year that one I pick today may not be running in six months.” Yoder agrees. “It’s a process that works itself out and eventually you will get a nominee.”

And Cracchiolo adds, with so many candidates on stage it can be hard for voters to get behind any one of them at this point.  “It’s almost impossible to choose when you have 20 candidates.”

One other observation from Yoder: no talk by the candidates of President Trump colluding with Russia, or the Mueller investigation. He doesn’t think it will come up in future debates, either. “You’re going to start seeing that, you know it’s over. There was no collusion and no obstruction found. So you’re going to see that in future debates, it’s not going to come up. There’s nothing to discuss. The case is closed and it’s done.”

Many democrats, of course, disagree. Some have argued the Mueller Report also didn’t exonerate the President.