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February 20th, 2024        Len’s Political Note #623 Carl Marlinga Michigan 10

2024                                      General Election

Ronald Reagan made Macomb County famous.  Or it was the other way around.  North of Wayne County and Detroit, Macomb County was the home of Reagan Democrats.  In 2015, The American Spectator wondered if Reagan Democrats would return to the main stage and vote in Donald Trump as President.  They did.

Carl Marlinga went to Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods just south of Macomb County.  In the 1970s, Notre Dame High School was a venue for local bands and for Motown artists who would lip synch to their records.  From Notre Dame, he went to the University of Detroit and then got a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Carl Marlinga joined a law firm in Southfield, just south of toney Bloomfield Hills, became a partner, and, having developed political ambitions, was appointed an Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor. In 1980, for a year and before Reagan took office, he became an Assistant US Attorney.  After that year, he became a special trial attorney for the US Justice Department’s Organized Crime Task Force. In 1985, Carl Marlinga was elected Macomb County’s prosecutor.  In 1998, he considered running for Attorney General in Michigan. In 2000, he considered running for Michigan’s Supreme court.  He was a law and order guy in a law and order county. Carl Marlinga left his role as Macomb County’s elected prosecutor in 2004

In 2010, Carl Marlinga was the Democratic candidate for State Senate, but lost to Republican Tony Rocca.  In 2012, with more than 55% of the primary vote and more than 60% in the general election, he was elected as a probate court judge.  In 2016, he was elected, without opposition, to a six year term in the new 16th circuit trial court.  Born in 1947, he would turn 70 in 2017.  He would have to retire after completing his term in 2022.

In 2022, Carl Marlinga ran for Congress.  With slightly less than 50% of the vote, he defeated four other candidates in the Democratic primary.  He was 30 points better than the second-place finisher and nearly won the general election.  In the third closest Republican-won Congressional race in the country, Carl Marlinga lost to John James.  John James was the businessman son of a wealthy African American businessman, John A. James.   The older James is the CEO of the James Group International – a  global supply company.  Nowadays we are familiar with the term supply chain.

The younger John James graduated from West Point in 2004.  He served 8 years in the army including Ranger School and several tours in Iraq during.  He seemed to be preparing for a career in business.  He got a Master’s Degree in supply management from Penn State and an MBA from the University of Michigan and joined his father’s firm in 2012.

In 2018, he turned to politics. He ran for the US Senate, but was defeated by the  incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow by 6.5 points.  In 2020, he ran for the US Senate again.  This time he was defeated by the incumbent Democrat Gary Peters by 1.7 points.  This time John James refused to accept the results.  He claimed voter fraud, but conceded before Thanksgiving.

In 2022, John James won his election.  He defeated Carl Marlinga by 1600 votes. This Reagan Republican Congressional District north of Detroit had elected a young, Black, businessman Republican extremist as its Congressman.

 In Carl Marlinga’s campaign in 2022, running without national Democratic support, he seemed almost reluctant to raise money. John James raised nearly $7 million for his campaign and spent $6 million.  Carl Marlinga raised and spent $1 million.

Announcing in 2024, Carl Marlinga said “I’m running because I was and still am the best person to be a representative for this district. I grew up here, while John James was a stranger to the people in this district,”

“I lived in my dad’s store when I was a kid. I was a prosecuting attorney for years, a probate judge, a circuit court Judge. I really do know the people in this district, and I know that I represent their ideals and their priorities. And I’ve watched John James now in Congress, and he’s not representative of us.”

Carl Marlinga still has to get through a primary to be the Democratic nominee.  He is still not raising money — $300,000 compared to Dr. Anil Kumar’s $900,000 and John James $3.3 million to start 2024.  Just under half of Anil Kumar’s funds are a personal donation.  When he last ran for Congress, he donated $700,000 personally to no avail.  He lost by double digits. Carl Marlinga is still the likely primary winner.  Can he win the election while raising only a modest amount of money?  Why doesn’t he raise more?

To answer that last question, we need to look at the hiatus between his leaving his role as prosecutor in 2004 and his time as a local judge that began in 2012.  In 2006, Carl Marlinga was acquitted of three crimes: providing influence that led to the retrial of a man convicted of kidnapping, rape, and murder; influencing the outcome of a case in which another man was convicted to reduced gun, sex, and drug charges; and arranging for an illegal contribution to the campaign of a state senator.

One basis for the acquittal appeared to be evidence of several instances where Carl Marlinga had provided assistance to defendants where there was absolutely no evidence of bribery for the help he offered. Carl Marlinga seemed to believe these efforts either achieved or moderated justice.  When Carl Marlinga was being tried, jurors were quoted as saying the prosecution offered lots of dots, but no connection between the dots, that they were convinced that Carl Marlinga was an ethical man.

After the trial, one of the defense attorneys explained that critical comments by other attorneys of Carl Marlinga’s willingness to testify twice to the grand jury and to cooperate with the FBI and the Michigan State Police allowed him to demonstrate his openness and to more easily testify in trial that “I did not trade my influence for campaign contributions.  I wouldn’t even think of doing that.”

That same defense attorney, sounding very much like someone who had defended a man he knew to be innocent, said, after the verdict, this was “the most rewarding case of my career.”

Neither Carl Marlinga nor his defense attorneys were critical of the prosecution.  Carl Marlinga simply said that prosecutors get it wrong sometimes.  One of the campaign contributors was critical.  He said federal prosecutors initially offered to drop charges against him if he testified against Carl Marlinga.  When he refused, they offered to drop charges against him if he did not testify for the defense.

It is a measure of the extent to which Carl Marlinga has regained the high regard of the people in Macomb County that the press simply does not rehash this old case.  Neither do the politicians.  But Carl Marlinga’s experience makes it understandable that he is cautious about soliciting campaign contributions.  I will do it for him and ask you to DONATE TO CARL MARLINGA.

Three Michigan Congressional races – Let’s win all three

Michigan 07.  Had Incumbent Elissa Slotkin been the candidate, she would have been #29 on Len’s list of Vulnerable Democratic Incumbents.  Curtis Hertel makes the seat more vulnerable than that.  Daily Kos’s List makes Michigan 07 #1 among vulnerable Democratic seats. As of October 1, Curtis Hertel had $600,000 available for campaigning; Tom Barrett was not far behind with $400,000.  DONATE TO CURTIS HERTEL See Len’s Political Note #601

 Michigan 08. Had Incumbent Dan Kildee been the candidate, he would have been #37 on Len’s list of Vulnerable Democratic Incumbents.  Mary McDonald Rivet (If she proves to be the Democratic nominee) will be more vulnerable than that. DONATE TO MARY MCDONALD RIVET. Help keep this seat Democratic.  See Len’s Political Note #617

Michigan 10. Republican John James, seeking his third term in the House of Representatives, is #3 on Len’s List of Vulnerable Republican incumbents.  As with MI 08, it is hard to know who will be the Democratic candidate and the August 6 primary is a long way off.  I suggest assuming that the 2022 Democratic candidate will be renominated.  Former county judge Carl Marlinga is a blue-collar Democrat, but with little in the way of resources, he came very close to winning against the current incumbent, a scion of a wealthy African American family, DONATE TO CARL MARLINGA

The Michigan Senate race

This is an open seat, available as a result of the retirement of Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow’s retirement.  Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin is a former CIA Agent and the daughter of the family that brought the Detroit Tigers and the country Ballpark Franks.  In the CIA she was fluent in Arabic and Swahili.  After her service she became acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.  In Congress, she was known as a moderate and for her bipartisan efforts.  In general, she earned her moderate status on internatonal and defense issues.  Otherwise, she supported gun safety, LGBT rights, and other Democratic issues.  She entered 2024 with $6 million available for her campaign, having already spent $5.5 million.  Of the five Republicans who want to be her opponent, businessman Sandy Pensler and former Congressman Michael Rogers each began the year with about $1 million and were well ahead of the other candidates.  January polls found her ahead of most Republicans by a point or two.  The one candidate she trailed, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, has dropped out of the race. Help her maintain her lead.  DONATE TO ELISSA SLOTKIN.  See Len’s Political Note #589


Support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

As we look toward November, 2024, Help sustain the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaign.  Recent February polls show Joe Biden either even with or behind Trump by between 1 and 4 points.  Every donation, large or small, makes a difference.  Larger donations mean more money for the campaign.  But large numbers of small donations are a measure of enthusiasm for the candidate.  Make a small donation if you cannot afford a large one.   DONATE TO JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS.

#7 in the Stephenson County, IL list of Biden accomplishments:  Cut child poverty in half through the American Rescue Plan.

Foreign Matters

Russia has a presidential election in 2024, too. Their incumbent, Vladimir Putin is running for reelection.  Three opponents remain. Communist Nikolay Karitonov, extreme nationalist Leonid Slutsky, and New People Party’s Vladislav Davandov.

Putin’s strongest opponent, Alexei Navalny, is dead, possibly murdered at the direction of the Russian President.  Donald Trump’s and his most ardent supporters appear to believe that Trump, through immunity, just might have the same right to kill opponents.  Anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin has been ruled off the ballot.  Many American Democrats, including me, think that there are circumstances where a presidential candidate can be ruled off the ballot and that Donald Trump, having incited an insurrection, has fulfilled those circumstances.  Anti-war Russians (those who dare) can vote for Vladislav Davandov.  Members of his party in the Duma abstained from voting to accept the annexation of Unkrainian territory in Russian hands.  He signed a petition urging that Boris Nadezhdin remain on the ballot. He opposed mandatory vaccinations during the pandemic.   If I could, if it would matter (which it would not at all), I would be urging you do donate to Vladislav Davandov’s campaign.