During the 2012 campaign, former Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser (pictured) – who at the time was national finance chair for the Republican National Committee – told a tea party meeting that voters in Detroit are picked up at “pool halls and…barbershops,” and bussed “from precinct to precinct where they vote multiple times.” He added that no one would be going “where those pool halls and barbershops are” to get out the vote in November, at least “not without a side arm.”
Then in December 2012, during the lame duck legislative session, legislative Republicans discussed voting to split up Michigan’s electoral votes by Congressional district. The scheme would have given Mitt Romney nine of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes in 2012, despite him losing the state by 450,000 votes. In comments to Slate, former Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis claimed that voters from the city of Detroit “distort the rest of the state.”
So it was curious, to say the least, that yesterday in Detroit, Washington and Michigan Republicans marked their decade-long failed outreach campaign to communities of color with the announcement that they hired a staffer to direct African-American engagement, appointed a “Michigan Black Advisory Council,” and will soon be opening an office in Detroit. Republicans claim – as they did in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and earlier this year – that this is an “aggressive plan” that will “change the political landscape.
Haven’t we heard this story before? Republicans in Michigan and Washington have promised repeatedly that this time will be different, this time they’ll actually listen to the needs of key constituencies. But, after Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s crusade to make it harder for African Americans to vote, the GOP’s ongoing campaign to prevent 7.1 million uninsured black Americans from accessing affordable health care, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s Emergency Manager law ensuring that over half of black Michiganders no longer have the right to vote for local elected officials, the GOP has yet again proven that are so far out of touch, they can’t even see it