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Detroit Chamber endorses Duggan for Detroit mayor in write-in campaign

From Crian’s Detroit Business

By Kirk Pinho

July 2, 2013

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s 26-member political action committee board has endorsed write-in Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan in the primary election.

Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, while declining to say specifically what the vote count was, said Tuesday that the board voted “very strongly for Mike,” who is a former member of the chamber board of directors.

The chamber’s endorsement will likely result in contributions to Duggan’s campaign war chest, but Baruah would not say how much.

“We know him as a business leader, and obviously as a business leader, he shares our interests in job creation and economic growth in the city and throughout the region,” Baruah said Tuesday evening. “He also has worked in government and been successful in government.”

Duggan was deputy Wayne County executive from 1986 until 2002. In 2001, he was elected Wayne County prosecutor, serving until 2003. He then spent nine years leading the Detroit Medical Center from January 2004 until stepping down Dec. 31, 2012, to run for Detroit mayor. The DMC lost $500 million over the six years before Duggan’s arrival in January 2004; he was largely credited with its turnaround and path to profitability.

Duggan was interim general manager of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportationfrom 1993 to 1996 while he worked for the county.

“I am extremely pleased to have the endorsement of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s PAC board,” Duggan said in an emailed statement. “Because of the chamber’s leadership we were able to garner the support we needed to build Comerica Park and Ford Field. The chamber also was the lead sponsor of our successful campaign to turn around the SMART bus system in the mid-1990s. I look forward to a continued partnership as we work to rebuild Detroit’s future.”

Duggan had been considered a frontrunner, along with Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, in the race for a four-year term as mayor until the Wayne County Circuit Court and then the Michigan Court of Appeals declared him ineligible to appear on the primary ballot. He dropped out of the race last month, but on Friday announced that he would run as a write-in candidate.

At issue in the courts’ decisions was his filing of nominating petitions two weeks before he’d been a registered Detroit voter for a year as is required by the city charter.

Duggan predicted last week that about 60,000 to 80,000 people will vote in the Aug. 6 primary election; his goal, because the top two vote-getters are placed on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, is to finish second in the primary, he said. To do that, he’ll need 25 percent of the vote — or about 15,000 to 20,000 votes, he said.

Other candidates for mayor include former state Rep. Lisa Howze, state Rep. Fred Durhal Jr., former Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon, Tom Barrow, who ran against former Mayor Coleman A. Young in 1985 and 1989, and community advocate Mark Murphy.

According to Brad Williams, the chamber’s vice president of government relations, the board meets again Monday and may vote to endorse candidates in the Detroit City Council primary election.

Kirk Pinho: (313) 446-0412, Twitter: @kirkpinhoCDB