Normally, tomorrow's meeting of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Committee at Morris Hall in Pittsfield Township would be fairly routine. Precinct delegates, elected officials, and nominees on last November's ballot for partisan office will show up, have their credentials checked, select members of the Executive Committee, and elect officers for this year.
Even the appearance of Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer at the meeting, as reported by Chris Savage at Eclectablog, would be an expected event. Brewer will give a report on how the election went, decry the actions of the Republicans in Lansing, and give a pep talk to the delegates about 2014.
All of that will still happen, but Brewer's visit will take on added significance, as he is facing the most serious challenge to his chairmanship in the eighteen years he has held it. He is expected to face a fight for his office at next month's State Convention of the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP), and he will need every delegate he can convince to re-elect him.
As reported by Gongwer and quoted at Michigan Liberal, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Teamsters, two of the unions that form the core of the MDP's financial support and membership base, have withdrawn their support for Brewer's chairmanship. Joining them are several elected officials, including longtime U.S. Representative Sander Levin along with two newly elected office holders, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack of Ann Arbor and University of Michigan Regent Mark Bernstein.
The most vocal of the opponents has been Bob King, President of the UAW. According to a report from MIRS quoted at Michigan Liberal, King has threatened to stop the UAW's contribution to the MDP if Brewer is re-elected as chair. King's issues with Brewer spring from the failure of Proposition 2, which was clearly in trouble a week before the election, followed by the enactment of Right-to-Work legislation the next month. King blames the MDP in general and Brewer in particular, for insufficient support of Proposition 2.
In response, Brewer has vowed to run for the office with or without the support of King, the UAW, Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., and the Teamsters.
This has set up a split within the coalition of labor unions that compose the bulk of the MDP. as the two teachers unions, the Michigan Education Association, the largest union in the state, and the Michigan Federation of Teachers. both support Brewer.
In addition to the support of the education unions, Brewer can count on the lack of organization of King and his other critics. According to Zachary Gorchow of Gongwer, there is no clear candidate to oppose Brewer. Instead, it seems that King is trying to recruit one on the fly, only a month before the convention. While this has led to massive speculation among the readers of Michigan Liberal about who would be a worth replacement, no one seems to have stepped up in response yet.
Brewer's fate will be decided by delegates to the MDP State Convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit on Saturday, February 23rd. Potential delegates have until close of business today to renew their membership in the party in time to participate in the historic vote to keep or replace Brewer.