Dem prez hopefuls haven’t been in Michigan for weeks — but that’s about to change

Here’s your updated interactive guide to campaign stops

By: - February 29, 2020 6:44 am

Democratic presidential candidates Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

After an early influx of campaign stops, several top Democratic presidential candidates have gone months without campaigning in Michigan as they shifted their focus to early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

However, that will change next week. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will all hold town halls in the Detroit area on Super Tuesday, one week ahead of Michigan’s March 10 primary.

Other candidates are expected to campaign in the state next week, as well, but have not yet released their schedules.

Meanwhile, Republican incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made several stops in the key swing state more recently than most of their Democratic challengers.

Political parties, labor unions and other groups have held several multi-candidate presidential debates and forums in Michigan this year. In July, Michigan became the center of the Democratic primary, as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) held two debates in Detroit featuring 20 candidates.

Michigan was one of three Upper Midwest states – along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – that decided the 2016 election and analysts believe it will be key this year, as well. The state will host one of three general election debates in October.

Michigan’s primary falls a week after 15 states and territories will allocate one-third of Democratic delegates on Super Tuesday.

Here’s an updated interactive map of every presidential candidate visit, including for those who have dropped out.

Trump, Pence visit more recently, frequently

Pence was back in the state Tuesday to deliver remarks at the Michigan Farm Bureau Lansing Legislative Seminar and at a Keep America Great event in Troy. Pence also made an unannounced stop at Fleetwood Diner in Lansing on Tuesday, where he was greeted with chants of “four more years” from the unsuspecting guests.

The Trump campaign has made a total of 18 campaign stops in the state, so far, this election cycle.

Trump used a speech in Warren on Jan. 30 to tout the USMCA and vow to halt Chaldean deportations. He and Pence last visited the state together on Dec. 18 for a “Merry Christmas rally” in Battle Creek that ran parallel to the U.S. House of Representatives officially voting to impeach Trump.

Pence also held a Workers for Trump event in Saginaw and made unannounced stops at two Frankenmuth businesses – Zehnder’s and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland – ahead of the rally.

The Battle Creek rally was Trump’s second in the state last year, after he also held a rally in Grand Rapids in March.

Pence made eight other campaign stops in the state throughout 2019 – including speeches to the Detroit Economic Club and at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.

Trump’s opponents in the Republican primary – former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (D-Ill.) – attended a debate at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit in late October.

Sanford dropped out of the race on Nov. 12 and Walsh suspended his campaign on Feb. 7.

Bloomberg most recent Dem in state after late entry

While former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg entered the Democratic race for president later than most candidates and decided to skip early voting states like Iowa, he quickly gained traction after spending millions on advertisements and building out a campaign staff in states like Michigan.

Bloomberg has made three campaign stops in the state across two visits – both of which were more recent than any of his opponents in the Democratic primary.

Bloomberg was most recently in the state on Feb. 4 for a rally in Detroit. Diana Taylor, Bloomberg’s longtime partner, spoke at a fundraiser in Bloomfield Hills on Jan. 16.

Bloomberg also visited Detroit on Dec. 21, making a local business stop and opening a campaign office in the Eastern Market.

Sanders, current frontrunner, last visited in October

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-V.t.), the current Democratic frontrunner, was last in Michigan in late October for a rally where he was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit).

Sanders also toured the most polluted ZIP code in the state with Tlaib ahead of the rally.

In September, Sanders joined striking UAW members outside the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

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.

Sanders, who won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary in 2016, first made his return to the Michigan campaign trail with a union meeting in Coopersville in West Michigan and rally in Warren in April.

Klobuchar, Warren last visited in fall

Warren and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) last visited Michigan on Sept. 29 for a forum hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union.

Warren also toured the state’s most polluted ZIP code with Tlaib while in the state for the forum. She’s slated to hold a town hall at Eastern Market in Detroit on Tuesday night.

Both candidates joined striking UAW members outside the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in separate visits in September.

Ahead of joining the picket line, Klobuchar also toured the Nicholson Terminal and Dock Company in River Rouge.

Klobuchar made her Michigan campaign trail debut in May with speeches to the National Organization of Black County Officials Economic Development Conference and Michigan Democratic Party Women’s Caucus. She also discussed gun reforms with U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) in Ann Arbor.

Warren made her first trip to the state the following month, holding town halls in Detroit and Lansing.

Klobuchar is the only active Democratic presidential candidate who has visited Flint this election cycle. She met privately with city leaders in July.

Biden, Buttigieg last visited in summer

Despite his hometown being just five miles away from the Michigan border, Buttigieg has not campaigned in the state since July — but that’s scheduled to change Tuesday with a Macomb County stop.

Buttigieg joined striking security workers following the first night of the second Democratic debate in July. Earlier in the month, Buttigieg also held fundraisers in Detroit and Saugatuck.

Traverse City native Chasten Buttigieg, Pete Buttigieg’s husband, appeared at fundraisers for the Ingham County Democratic Party and Grand Traverse County Democratic Party in June. He also walked in the Up North Pride parade in Traverse City in June.

Former Vice President Joe Biden – whose campaign has revolved around electability in key swing states like Michigan – also made his last appearance here following his Democratic debate performance, visiting Detroit One Coney Island on Aug. 1.

Biden also visited Buddy’s Pizza in Dearborn and held a fundraiser in Detroit on July 24 following his appearance at the NAACP Convention’s candidate forum.

Gabbard, Steyer mostly missing from state

Gabbard, who is technically still in the presidential race, despite winning fewer votes than “uncommitted” in the Nevada caucus, spoke to supporters at a debate watch party in Detroit following her performance at the second Democratic debate on July 31.  On Tuesday, she’s scheduled to do a town hall near Eastern Market in Detroit.

Billionaire Tom Steyer, who also did not win any delegates in the first three contests, has not campaigned in Michigan since entering the presidential race on July 9.

Former candidates

More than a dozen Democrats have dropped out of the presidential race. 

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang was the first candidate to campaign in Michigan, holding a rally in Detroit in November 2018. Yang later returned for another rally on May 4.

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), followed Yang with a roundtable with the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund in Detroit in January 2019.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was also in the state on May 4, speaking to the Kent County Democratic Party. Ryan later visited striking UAW workers in Flint on Sept. 18.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) were, at the time, the first major candidates to visit the state, with both attending multiple events on March 18.

O’Rourke held two meet and greets in the Detroit area and toured the Ferndale Carpenters Training Center, while Gillibrand taped a town hall that aired on MSNBC and attended a meet and greet hosted by Fems for Dems with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, neither of whom have endorsed for president.

O’Rourke visited Flint on July 24 for a town hall, while Gillibrand toured the Flint Water Treatment Plant, Berston Field House, and downtown Flint businesses on July 12 as part of her Trump Broken Promises bus tour that also included stops in Lansing and Bloomfield Hills.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was the first candidate to visit Flint in the 2020 election cycle, touring the Flint Farmers’ Market and holding a town hall on June 8.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) visited Flint for a private meeting with local leaders on July 24, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee toured the Flint Development Center on July 29. Booker also spoke to the National Organization of Black County Officials in May and held a rally in Detroit on Aug. 1.

Inslee was the first presidential candidate to tour the state’s most polluted ZIP code in Detroit on June 4, rolled out a piece of his expansive climate change policy on July 29 and met with Detroit Islamic leaders on July 30.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) made her Michigan campaign trail debut on May 5, delivering the keynote address at 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 (AFT).

Harris also joined the Service Employees International Union (SIEU) in Detroit twice, first for a rally with striking workers and once to participate in the Walk A Day In My Shoes program.

Author Marianne Williamson, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and New York City Bill de Blasio also attended events in the Detroit area before dropping out.

Four candidates – former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Ala.), U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick – dropped out of the race without making any campaign stops in Michigan.

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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a regular contributor to the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.