Clinton county political parties looking to gain community support

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By Celeste Bott

Clinton Chronicle Staff Writer


The 2012 presidential election may be months away, but both the Republican and Democratic parties in Clinton County are already hard at work.

Michigan is currently in the political spotlight, and the support of Michigan voters is a priority for the current candidates. The Michigan primary will take place Feb. 28, where Republican hopefuls will look to the mitten state for help in securing a place in the presidential race. President Barack Obama paid a visit to Ann Arbor this week and discussed Michigan—particularly the rise of Detroit’s auto industry—at length in his recent State of the Union address.

Michigan may be a traditionally blue state, but both parties know that it could go either way in these upcoming months. And the politically active citizens in Clinton County, from both sides, are doing something about it.

Ellen Link is a member of the Clinton County Democrats and works on their fundraising committee. She offered a very honest take on the best way to gain political support. “As everyone knows and most of us regret, elections are now all about money,” she said. “We try to make sure citizens are registered to vote and informed about the issues by going door-to-door, making phone calls, and talking to our neighbors.”

Steve Willis, chairman of the Clinton County Republican Party (CCRP), also weighed in. “We can endorse specific candidates,” Willis said. “I know members of the Tea Party in this community are endorsing Ron Paul, but we do not endorse one person in this upcoming election.”

Willis had a similar opinion to Link on the need for monetary support. “The revenue received from the club sponsorships will be used to support and promote candidates who represent our goals and interests,” he said.

The CCRP isn’t be endorsing one candidate in particular, but Willis is confident of the general consensus among Clinton County Republicans. “If I were to poll everyone in the office right now, I’d be willing to bet Governor Mitt Romney would receive the most support,” he said.

Romney recently won big in the Florida primary and is looking to do it again in Michigan this February.

However Clinton County Democrats are confident in President Obama’s advantages over the current GOP candidates. “I don’t think there is any comparison,” said Link. “The GOP is no friend of labor and therefore of the middle class. Where Republicans would have let the automotive industry sink, putting Michigan into an even worse situation than it was, Pres. Obama found a way to help it survive, and I’d like to think Michiganders will remember this.

“I also support the president’s objective of making a college education more affordable and therefore accessible, as he spoke about recently at the University of Michigan,” Link went on to say. “Our Republican state legislators don’t seem to think funding education is very important.”

Johanna Balzer, chairwoman of the Clinton County Democrats, agreed with Link’s statements and added, “Many people think that Clinton County is a Republican County.  However, in the last elections, with the exception of 2010, more votes at the top of the ticket go for Democrats than Republicans.”

Balzer went on to discuss the many ways the citizens of Clinton County can get involved with their democratic organization. They hold a spring banquet fundraiser and chili cook-offs. They are present at the Bath Days Festival, the Dewitt Ox Roast, and the Clinton County C-H fair, often volunteering to help the community as well as promoting awareness for their own cause. They’re also putting together a cookbook. “It will contain facts about the Democratic Party and it’s candidates, along with recipes from local and well-known Party members,” said Balzer. “We already have recipes from Jimmy and Roslyn Carter, Debbie Stabenow, and other noteworthy officials.”

The CCRP also encourages the members of Clinton County to get involved as election time approaches. Willis encouraged those who were interested to check out the CCRP website, where they blog consistently about key issues. The CCRP also holds annual scholarship competitions, has a separate outlet for young, teenage republicans, and coordinates the annual Lincoln Day Dinner to fund raise.

“I hope anyone looking to support us will come to our monthly meetings,” said Willis. The next CCRP meeting is Feb. 16.

The Clinton County Democrats meet the first Thursday of every month at Dewitt City Hall at 7 p.m.

Getting involved in Clinton County political activism is as simple as attending these meetings for more information, and both sides hope to see members of the community participate as the time approaches to vote for our nation’s leader.

“President Obama understands that policies that help the rich get richer and leave the middle class and poor to fend for themselves hurt us all in the long run—that we are all in this together,” Link said.

Willis was more neutral. “I’m very interested to see what happens next year,” he said. “If we’ll give majority control [in Congress] back to the Democrats, or if it will remain with Republicans.”


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