A week before the election, we shook up the Breakfast with Legislators agenda by featuring a discussion with Kyle Melinn and Congressman Bill Huizenga.
Kyle Melinn, editor and Vice President of MIRS news, opened with describing the unique environment following the Supreme Court decision invalidating the Governor’s Executive Orders and contrasted it with the relationship between former Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Governor Jennifer Granholm. Most notably, that the current Governor and Senate Majority Leader are not talking. He mentioned that they have made some progress through their staff working together, which is giving them a path to getting things done.
When asked about the President’s family and affiliates being constantly in Michigan, Kyle said that it appears President Trump loves Michigan. He continues visiting even though his advisors and campaign are likely telling him Michigan is a black hole (noting that the campaign is being outspent heavily).
On how the election will turnout for the top of the ticket, Kyle thinks the real question is does Joe win by eight points or five, saying that a five-percent loss is probably the best cast scenario for the Trump campaign in Michigan.
This election will also be unique in some ways. He also noted that 6 million voters are projected to cast a ballot in Michigan, which is 75% of the voting age. This is from President Trump (pro and con), coronavirus, voting changes, and more. Hillary Clinton’s unfavorable rating had an impact on people staying home, where Vice President Biden’s favorability polls well even in typically Republican districts.
On the battle for control of the State House, currently at 58-51 (1 Democratic held seat is open), he predicts that the Democrats will take a majority. If Vice President Biden wins by more than ten points, the Democrats will win seats that are not even seen to be competitive. In West Michigan he mentioned two house seats, the 72nd and 73rd, and the Third Congressional seat as seats that are much more competitive than typical.
He spent some time highlighting that Kent County is a major focus for a number of different offices, and believes Republicans will do better the further they are from the top of the ticket. The more local you get, the more Republicans will do better in Kent County.
Lame duck, the legislative session between the election and the end of the year, will be influenced heavily by the outcome of the Michigan House election. Kyle predicts if the Democrats win control, a number of bills will be passed and sent to the Governor for her to veto to get her on the record for future elections. It won’t be as busy as 2018, which was a “special” lame duck, but will include more codification of former executive orders, and a couple of legislative packages will be pushed hard to pass before time expires.
Lastly, Kyle thinks we are done with surprises for this election cycle, but that they will be starting sooner going forward due to the significant increase of permanent absentee voting. This election is changing how people vote – election day is now from late September to November. He anticipates that we will get enough results to have a good picture of where things stand on election night, particularly at the top of the ticket.
Kyle is hopeful that, after this election, people will realize there is more to life than social media and negative ads.
Congressman Huizenga started by sharing that any further COVID-19 relief will take place after the election. The Congressman is most frustrated about the $138 billion that has been authorized and unspent in the Paycheck Protection Program, and wishes it could get to the service industries that are still struggling as winter approaches.
He shared that an additional roughly $650 billion is sitting idle after authorization, but talks have stalled on moving these dollars with Speaker Pelosi focusing on holding out for a deal that is more aligned with the House Democrat’s priorities. A huge sticking point for Republicans is with states that have made poor fiscal choices during COVID and bailing them out versus supporting states making the right fiscal decisions.
Regarding polarization questions from the audience, Rep. Huizenga said that even today, there is a lot of bi-partisan action taking place that doesn’t get reported because it does not garner headlines and viewership. There are obvious challenges, and this is a very heightened political environment.
Closing on a positive note, the Congressman praised West Michigan’s resiliency and how the community has pulled together to push towards recovery.
We hope you join us for our next virtual Breakfast with Legislators on Monday, December 7th from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.