August 5, 2005


GOP puts muscle behind Butler run: U.S. Senate candidate becomes a force, winning key backing and hiring top-notch advisers. (Alison Bethel, 8/05/05, Detroit News)

Keith A. Butler is patiently building his U.S. Senate campaign into a power house, surprising many Michigan Republicans who expected a higher-profile candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow next year.

It's come as no surprise, however, to friends and supporters who have watched Butler achieve a Detroit City Council seat against the odds and cultivate friends among Republicans statewide over the past decade, all while managing to build one of the nation's largest churches.

In the past two months Butler has:

• Secured the support of Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who has made recruitment of African-American candidates and party members a top priority. Recently, former Congressmen J.C. Watts and Jack Kemp agreed to serve as his national fund raising coordinators.

• Raised more than $830,320 between Dec. 31, 2004 and June 30.

That's far short of the $15 million to $20 million often spent in U.S. Senate races but enough to legitimize his campaign and allow him to hire a first-rate team of consultants, advisers and managers.

• Won endorsements from key Michigan Republicans, including Attorney General Mike Cox and former Michigan Senate leader and gubernatorial candidate Dick Posthumus. [...]

Butler, 49, is one of a handful of black candidates being supported this year by the Republican National Committee.

In Maryland, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele established an exploratory committee in a possible bid for governor. Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Lynn Swann is considering running for governor of Pennsylvania. Ohio Treasurer Ken Blackwell is also mounting a campaign to run for governor of that state. Several other black Republicans are running for lower statewide positions in Texas, Vermont, Ohio and Missouri, among others. [...]

Other potential candidates are now watching Butler carefully, including Domino's Pizza executive David Brandon and Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. More Michigan Republican leaders are leaning toward publicly supporting Butler, however, and additional high-level endorsements could come soon.

"They are going to be shocked when he takes the nomination and they are going to be shocked when he takes Debbie Stabenow to the wire and maybe even beats her," Riddle says. "He will mainstream his message and that will allow him to get a significant portion of the urban vote. He can be creative and out the box and that will make him dangerous to Stabenow."

Brandon has reportedly decided not to run, leaving the path clear to the nomination.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 5, 2005 2:35 PM

This sounds like it will be fun to watch, regardless.

Posted by: Timothy at August 5, 2005 2:37 PM

Well, we know Harry Reid will call him stupid, and the black caucus will call him Uncle Tom, but what will Byrd say about him?

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 5, 2005 3:49 PM

This is great news! It gives me goose bumps being from the blue state of Minnesota, it makes me think that there is hope.

I linked you you here...

Posted by: Wayne M at August 5, 2005 4:12 PM

the national part apparatus had better fund this guy. it will make a nice contrast with how the dems treated carl mc call in his race.

Posted by: cjm at August 5, 2005 4:24 PM

Used to live in MI too. It's winnable if Mehlman provides solid support. I presume that some of Engler's old team will be on board. That guy knew how to win in MI. He pulled Spence Abraham up by his collar in 1994. I've never seen a policitian so obviously carry a guy.

Posted by: JAB at August 5, 2005 4:59 PM

What will American politics look like if the Republican party, at all levels of government, can get 25% of the black vote?

Posted by: Luciferous at August 5, 2005 6:44 PM

More normal--our history has been permanent majorities rather than close divides.

Posted by: oj at August 5, 2005 6:54 PM
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