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Grand Traverse Dems at the MDP Endorsement Convention

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was the MDP Endorsement convention. The commute was the worst of times: we had January in April. Each traveler will have their own story of ice, snow, rain and wind. But we all persevered. So much for the worst of times.

Here you see GTDems members H. Lassers, J. Pelto, R. Pelto, B. Coffia, H. Bird, and A. Rogers preparing to step up on stage for the nomination of Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State.

You have all read the big news: Nessel will be the Democratic candidate for Michigan Attorney General. Both Dana Nessel and Pat Miles had energetic teams and both campaigned hard, speaking at almost every caucus. Although both had a liberal platform their character was rather different. Pat had the calm, no drama, demeanor of a Harvard attorney. Dana was an energetic, passionate firebrand.

Once we made it to Cobo Hall we were treated to a cacophony of candidate parades complete with marching bands, hawkers pushing campaigns, and an army of petition volunteers. The energy was impressive. There was an amazing crowd numbering over 6700 delegates and by informal poll it seemed most were first time conventioneers. Despite the crowd, services including registration and food worked amazingly well.

Dan O'Neil, our next State Representative Abdul El Sayed candidate for Governor in caucus

The morning was taken up with caucus meetings. Much of the caucus time consisted of candidates coming in to speak to the caucus and tailoring their pitch somewhat to the topic of the caucus. A few caucuses had a working agenda and the Justice Caucus had a preset collection of speakers on ballot initiatives. I attended the disabled persons caucus, the justice caucus, and the Michigan First Caucus.

Our own Holly Bird and Betsy Coffia (left) made a significant presentation and appeal at the Michigan First District Caucus. Holly and Betsy pointed out that making people travel 4-10 hours in winter weather to a convention had the same effect in disenfranchising many voters. For most people in the Michigan First an overnight stay was required to attend the convention. Holly and Betsy asked that we write to Brandon Dillon ( and request that we have a remote voting option.

They have a good point, we are the party that advocates for improving voter access and we set a poor example in our process for the AG candidate selection.

The convention itself started at 2:30. At the right we see our Michigan 1st District flag and and Debbie Stabenow making her remarks from the podium.

Other speakers included Senator Peters along with rounds of rounds of nominations and acceptances for Regents, Supreme Court, and finally Attorney General.

There was an amazing presentation by four Detroit High School students on gun control.

As mentioned earlier your GTDem team did get our moment of fame standing on the big stage for the nomination of Jocelyn Benson to be our candidate for Secretary of State.

Judy Pelto and TJ Andrews on stage for the nomination of Jocelyn Benson. Carl Levin gave the nominating speech.

The convention concluded with the nominations for Attorney General. Both candidates had enthusiastic supporters and inspiring nomination speeches. Since this was a contested endorsement a vote was held.

Voting was done by having the delegates go one or two districts at a time to teams of agents with iPad-based voting apps. The delegates credentials were scanned, and the delegate voted. This process took approximately an hour and a half and then tallying began. Part way through the tallying process Pat Miles conceded to Dana Nessel, I presume because he was shown the direction the voting was going. This was approximately 7PM. His gentlemanly act of concession allowed convention to end without more delay.

It was my first convention and it was interesting and exciting. The stump speeches in the caucuses were interesting although I had expected more caucus specific work there. I am glad that Betsy and Holly made the point on voting, it is challenging for folks in the Michigan First to vote. Lastly, we need to find a much better weather committee, that part of the convention was not amusing.

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