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Michigan Democrats nominate candidates at 2014 convention

The Michigan Democratic Party ended their two-day convention in Lansing on a high note after a first day that evoked one of Will Rogers' best remembered sayings about politics; he was not a member of any organized political party, he was a Democrat.

Richard Bernstein, shown here in 2011, was nominated for Michigan Supreme Court by the Democratic Party last Saturday.
Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

On Sunday, all of the candidates nominated at the convention, from Lieutenant Governor down to Supreme Court Justice, ran unopposed and were approved unanimously.

In contrast, Saturday's proceedings saw a protest of one Supreme Court Justice over his views on reproductive choice as well as a contested vote for Wayne State University Governor and a delayed and poorly attended vote for State Board of Education.

Former Congressman Mark Schauer had been campaigning for months with Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown as his running mate for the Democratic ticket for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, but her status become official on Sunday, after State Representative David Rutledge of Ypsilanti placed her name in nomination and the attendees approved her nomination with gusto.

Brown, who came to fame for saying "vagina" while defending reproductive rights as a State Representative, urged Democrats to get out and vote in her acceptance speech. "2010 showed us that every vote counts, and we cannot afford to stay home from this election. We cannot afford another four years of Rick Snyder," Brown told the crowd as reported by MLive.

Sunday's session also saw the nominations of Mark Totten for Attorney General, Godfrey Dillard for Secretary of State, and Deborah Thomas for Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. It also saw a re-visitation of the nomination of William Murphy for Supreme Court Justice, who had been nominated amidst controversy on Saturday.

Some delegates were displeased with the announcement of Murphy's candidacy because of his pro-life views, which were strong enough to have earned Right to Life's endorsement in 1996. During the first consideration of his candidacy on Saturday, they held up signs saying "Women are watching," then turned their backs to him during his speech. Some even left the convention hall.

In a passage of his speech quoted by the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, and MLive, Murphy tried to reassure his critics, saying “Anyone who becomes a judge, you come with your personal background and beliefs. But once I put on the robe, my personal or religious beliefs do not control. What controls is the law. I am, have been, and will be a rule of law judge.”

Despite his assurances, his critics were not satisfied. They cited irregularities with the voice vote on Saturday, and asked for another vote on Sunday. They got one and Murphy's nomination was confirmed.

There was a contested vote on Saturday when James Woodyard tossed his hat into the ring for Wayne State University Governor to challenge retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly and University of Michigan law professor Dana Thompson for Wayne State University Board of Governors. After a long vote count, Kelly and Thompson prevailed.

Counting the votes for WSU Governor delayed the nominations for State Board of Education. As a result, a half-empty hall re-nominated incumbent board vice president Casandra Ulbrich and selected retired teacher Pamela Smith for State Board of Education.

Also nominated on Saturday were Richard Bernstein for the third seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, Mike Behm and incumbent Katherine White of Ann Arbor for University of Michigan Board of Regents, and sitting board members Faylene Owens and George Perles for Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

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