In presidential primaries, Michigan winners are not always national nominees.
Michigan over the decades has had some classic presidential primary battles where the winners were out of sync with the national outcome.
Think late 20th century Democratic Michigan primary winners segregationist George Wallace (1972), on the right, and later the Rev. Jesse Jackson (1988), on the left. They won the Michigan primaries — and went nowhere nationally.
There were more recent GOP primary battles where the Michigan winners did not emerge as party nominees.
Think 2000, when George W. Bush faced off in Michigan against Sen. John McCain. Then-Gov. John Engler vowed that Michigan would be a "firewall" against McCain for Bush. It wasn't.
McCain won Michigan, but not the nomination, and Bush became our 43rd president.
Think also of Michigan and Bush's father, our 41st president. In 1980, George H. W. Bush, with support from then-Gov. William G. Milliken, had a huge Michigan primary win; lost the nomination to Ronald Reagan; and then, at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, became Reagan's running mate.
"A look back in the last 40 years shows that winning Michigan is a mixed bag, filled with controversial characters and unexpected results," said Steve Mitchell, president of Mitchell Research & Communications, writing in The Detroit News about Michigan's "Quirky Primaries."
Never, in decades of monitoring presidential primary campaigns in Michigan, have I observed such a drumbeat — most of it negative — on radio and TV of political ads by candidates as what was spewed forth this year on Michigan airways.
On one day last week, during northern local news programs on NBC- and CBS-affiliated TV stations, ads for and against ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum were pretty much evenly matched between them, and in total compared with, and in some instances exceeded, the number of local ads.
Most TV half-hour shows I watched had at least four political ads, either by Romney, Santorum or their supporter super PACs.
Among other jabs, pro-Santorum ads told us Romney was a lousy governor who would "turn his back on Michigan workers."
Pro-Romney ads portray Santorum as a lousy senator who voted with then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for "the Bridge to Nowhere."
Santorum and Romney both campaigned heavily in the state before its Tuesday primary.
Romney scheduled an event today at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City, where McCain (who has endorsed Romney) made a late campaign stop as a presidential contender.
Santorum also scheduled an event today at the city's Streeter's Center, prompting Anna Mouser, of the Grand Traverse County Republican Party, to declare that the region "gets to show how vital it is to national politics once more."
Over the years, northern Michigan members of Congress have fought for adequate federal funding of harbors in their districts.
Freshman 1st District Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, a surgeon, vowed last week to push legislation for insertion of harbor funding into the House surface transportation bill in order to protect funding for the dredging and maintenance of harbors.
"The harbors and waterways of the Great Lakes play a critical part in Northern Michigan's economy," said Benishek, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force whose district has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline — the most in the continental United States — and is the only one with shoreline on three of the five Great Lakes.
"I see the inclusion of this measure into the surface transportation bill as good news for the maintenance of our harbors and the jobs they support."
He said the bill he touts — called the "RAMP Act" — mandates that all money collected for the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be used to maintain and dredge harbors and ports. Regrettably, he says, more than $6 billion has been siphoned away from the fund and not spent on dredging and maintaining waterways.
Benishek spokesman Kyle Bonini said: "From Grand Marais to Alpena, Dr. Benishek believes the maintenance of northern Michigan's harbors and waterways is critical to Michigan's economy. In Dr. Benishek's opinion, the best way to maintain Michigan's waterways is to ensure harbor funding is protected in the House Transportation bill."
The bill also is supported by 2nd District Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and 4th District Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland.