GOP says Niles a bellwether city
Published 3:41 am Tuesday, November 2, 2010
For those who hit the polls Tuesday, each vote, as the saying goes, counts.
And it might even count more than it seems.
Just two days before the election, at the Republican Fix Michigan Center on the corner of Second and Main streets, candidates running for state office made a stop to appeal to their constituents.
Outside the offices, a large group of supporters gathered around Bill Schuette, the GOP candidate for attorney general, Ruth Johnson, candidate for Secretary of State and Richard Zeile, candidate for the state board of education.
“You know we ride on the bus and we’re working 16, 18, 20 hours a day and there’s nothing more to liven you back up than to be here with a group of people like you,” Johnson said. “True patriots. Thank you for being here today.”
If Niles seems like an unlikely stop for those candidates running for state office, history would disagree.
Current candidate for state representative of the 79th District, Al Pscholka, said if Michigan is considered a bellwether state, Niles is a bellwether city.
“I think the Niles area is extremely important,” Pscholka said. “How Niles goes is how the country goes.”
With the exception of Gerald Ford, he speculated the city had picked the president in each election for 100 years. Just behind him, on a bookshelf inside the Fix Michigan Center, is a photograph taken to mark a visit by CNN, which noted the city as such in October 2004.
It’s for that reason, he guessed so many of his party were making the stop in Niles, to build support and campaign in the final moments before election.
When asked what she thought was behind the enthusiasm, Jo Ann Flock, who has been helping out the Berrien County Republicans at the center, said simply: “Change we can believe in.
“We want our country back,” she said. “We want our Constitution honored and democracy to reign.”
Candidates, even at the state level, she said, “really appreciate the difference in perspective of people in a small town.”
As for her perspective on what’s needed most in Michigan and in Niles right now?
“Jobs,” she said. Flock criticized the outgoing state administration when she added: “(Gov.) Jennifer Granholm said that everything was (George W.) Bush’s fault. We were 50th in the nation. I ask you, who was the president of the other 49 states?”
When the polls close Tuesday night, another election will be over but a new administration will face a state anxiously waiting for more to change.