Presidential candidates (clockwise): Pete Buttigieg, Donald Trump, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris | Trump photo by Getty Images, all others by Andrew Roth
With 30 presidential candidates doing more than 80 events across Michigan so far in 2019, it’s easy to fall behind on the race.
Michigan has taken on a greater importance in 2020 as a bona fide swing state, and already has been home to a number of forums, including an official Democratic National Committee debate in July. The state also has snagged one of the scheduled 2020 general election debates.
Democrats are investing in the state as they seek to rebuild the blue wall that President Donald Trump broke through in 2016. Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to get Trump reelected, with Vice President Mike Pence making several stops.
The Advance has created a handy interactive map so that you can find all the events yourself.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
Trump, Pence lead Republicans
After narrowly winning Michigan in 2016, Trump and Pence have participated in six campaign stops in the state so far in the 2020 cycle.
Trump visited Michigan in late March for a rally in Grand Rapids, where he announced that he had secured funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which he was threatening to cut.
Pence returned to the state a month later to tour a Ford plant in Dearborn, tout the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and hold a fundraiser. Pence also touted the USMCA in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club in August.
In September, Pence gave a keynote address at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference — breaking a Mackinac Island tradition with his eight-vehicle motorcade.
Three Republicans challenging Trump – former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (D-Ill.) – attended a debate of their own in late October. While Trump did not attend the debate hosted at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit, his presence was still felt.
Sanford announced on Nov. 12 that he was ending his presidential campaign, leaving just Walsh and Weld as the only Trump challengers in the Republican primary.
Trump’s challengers have not held any individual events in the state.
Dem debates and forums
Political parties, labor unions and other groups have held several multi-candidate presidential debates and forums in Michigan this year.
While one Detroit forum led by Michigan United was canceled, several others were met with more success.
The National Organization of Black County Officials was the first group to host multiple candidates. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam all spoke at their conference between May 2 and May 4.
July – the busiest month for presidential candidates in Michigan so far – saw 10 candidates speak at the NAACP Convention’s presidential candidate forum and 20 candidates participate in the second, two-night Democratic debate.
Before the debates held at the Fox Theatre, several candidates also participated in a fundraiser hosted by U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), including U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was scheduled, but didn’t show, and both Gillibrand and Ryan have since dropped out.
Two candidates – Klobuchar and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – also participated in a candidate forum hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in September.
Dems with most stops
Two of the four candidates with the most campaign stops in Michigan have dropped out of the race.
Gillibrand is tied with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the top spot, participating in a total of 10 events across the state, two of which were multi-candidate forums or debates.
The New York U.S. senator was the first major candidate to announce a visit to Michigan, although former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who also has left the race, would beat her to the state by a few hours back in March.
Gillibrand participated in a town hall that aired on MSNBC and participated in a meet and greet hosted by Fems for Dems during her first visit to the state.
In July, Gillibrand returned to the state as part of her Trump Broken Promises bus tour, with stops in Bloomfield Hills, Flint and Lansing. She ended her campaign in late August, after failing to qualify for the third Democratic debate.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is tied with Sanders for the second most single-candidate events in the state at seven campaign stops, also dropped out of the race in August.
Inslee also toured the Flint Development Center and met with Detroit Islamic leaders before deciding to end his presidential campaign and instead run for reelection in Washington.
O’Rourke, who dropped out at the beginning of November, doesn’t lag far behind, having participated in a total of seven events in Michigan, two of which were multi-candidate forums or debates.
During his first trip to the state as presidential candidate, O’Rourke held two meet-and-greets in the Detroit area and toured the Ferndale Carpenters Training Center.
Following the NAACP Convention candidate forum in July, O’Rourke traveled to Flint for a town hall. O’Rourke held his final event in the state on Aug. 1, visiting a Macomb County diner.
Other candidates who have dropped out of the race include Ryan, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, de Blasio, former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Leading the (remaining) pack
Of the remaining candidates, Sanders has participated in the most campaign stops – 10 total, including two multi-candidate forums or debates and one event featuring surrogates for the campaign but not the candidate himself.
Sanders, who won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary in 2016, made his return to the Michigan campaign trail with a union meeting in Coopersville in West Michigan and rally in Warren in April.
Ahead of the second Democratic debate, Sanders held a grassroots fundraiser in Detroit and took a bus to Canada with people who have Type 1 Diabetes to purchase affordable insulin. Sanders also sent two of his surrogates – former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner and actor Danny Glover – to visit the homes of Flint residents in July.
During the first days of the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, Sanders joined the picket line at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Klobuchar and Warren both joined workers at the same plant earlier in the month.
In September, Klobuchar was in Michigan as part of her Blue Wall tour of states Trump flipped in 2016, which also included a tour of the Nicholson Terminal and Dock Company in River Rouge.
Klobuchar, who has participated in eight campaign stops in Michigan, including four multi-candidate events, had previously spoken at the Michigan Democratic Party Women’s Caucus Legacy Luncheon in May and met privately with Flint leaders in July.
The two other remaining candidates with the most campaign stops in Michigan – Harris and Warren – have not yet visited Flint.
Harris first came to Michigan in May to keynote the Detroit NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner; the next day, she also read to elementary school students in Dearborn and participated in a town hall hosted by the American Federation of Teachers.
Harris, who has made a total of nine campaign stops in the state, three of which were multi-candidate events, twice joined the Service Employees International Union in Detroit, once for a rally and once to participate in the Walk A Day In My Shoes program.
Warren has made seven stops across the state, three of which were multi-candidate events. She made her campaign trail debut in the state in June, holding town halls in Detroit and Lansing.
And the rest …
Four of the candidates left in the race – former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Booker and Yang – have only participated in five events across Michigan. That included two multi-candidate stops for Biden, Buttigieg and Yang and three multi-candidate events for Booker.
In addition to the stops he made personally, Buttigieg has also sent his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, to campaign in Michigan – speaking at fundraisers for the Ingham County Democratic Party and Grand Traverse County Democratic Party and walking in the Up North Pride Parade. While he now lives in South Bend, the potential first gentleman is from Traverse City.
Yang was the first candidate to campaign in Michigan, holding a rally in November 2018. He returned for another rally in May and visited Flint on Aug. 1.
Booker visited Flint a week prior and held a rally in Detroit on Aug. 1.
Biden’s Michigan events have consisted of two restaurant stops — one in Dearborn and one in Detroit — and a fundraiser featuring former Gov. James Blanchard and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, among others.
Other candidates have done fewer than five events, including Gabbard, author Marianne Williamson and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
Who skipped Michigan
Only five candidates, past and present, haven’t stopped in Michigan: former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), billionaire Tom Steyer, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Swalwell and Gravel.
Swalwell and Gravel have dropped out of the race.
Steyer announced his candidacy in July, but failed to qualify for the Detroit Democratic debate, while Patrick announced his campaign on Thursday.
Other potential candidates – like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Attorney General Eric Holder – have not formally entered the race yet.
There are 116 days between now and the March 10, 2020, presidential primary (and 354 days until the Nov. 3, 2020, general election), so there’s plenty of time for more hopefuls to stop by.
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