Adolph Mongo is a political commentator and consultant and co-host of the podcast, "Detroit in Black and White." His column first appeared in The Detroit News and is being republished with his permission.
By Adolph Mongo
Democrats in Michigan have a Howard Wolpe problem. For those who are too young to remember, the late Howard Wolpe was a seven-term congressman from Michigan, representing Jackson and Washtenaw counties.
In 1994, Wolpe won the Democratic primary for governor. He and his running mate, then-State Sen. Debbie Stabenow, were trounced by the incumbent governor, John Engler.
Now for the rest of the story. While having lunch with the late Michigan Chronicle publisher, Sam Logan, at the Opus One restaurant in downtown Detroit he told me the Chronicle was endorsing Engler for governor.
I was shocked. The paper was a Democratic leaning publication. I had written several articles for the Chronicle critical of the governor for, among other things, closing Highland Park Community College and mental health facilities around the state.
“Why?” I asked Logan. He explained: “I called Howard over five times to see if he could come to our office and sit for an interview. His campaign blew us off each time. Meanwhile, the governor came to our office three times. And we were impressed with his agenda.”
A week later Engler released a photo, showing himself holding three newspapers. He boasted he had "hit the trifecta,” receiving endorsements from The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and the Michigan Chronicle.
An upset Howard Wolpe called Logan while he was traveling on the African continent and demanded: “What in the hell is happening in Detroit?”
Logan’s endorsement of Engler sent the Michigan Democratic Party a message that was loud and clear: Don’t take us for granted. The NAACP and other groups picketed the newspaper. But Logan stood his ground.
I am not advocating that Black voters turn Republican. But we must do what Sam Logan did and send the Michigan and national Democratic parties a message that you can’t keep ignoring and disrespecting your strongest supporters.
Several polls in Michigan are showing that despite the chaos in the Michigan Republican Party, President Joe Biden is in trouble here. Talking to different people around the city, they don’t want to vote for the president or any other Democratic candidates that are endorsed by party leaders. (Biden stopped at a Black-owned Harper Woods sports bar Thursday, but did not come to the city of Detroit).
Even with all the indictments and other issues Donald Trump faces, many young Black men who I know are considering him for president again.
This election is like the movie Groundhog Day, with the same scenario being repeated over and over again. Democratic leaders again are disrespecting Black voters.
The late Mayor Coleman Young sent a message when he supported Republican Gov. Bill Milliken. He sent another message to former Gov. Jim Blanchard when he sat out the election that made Engler governor. Black voters stayed home in 2016 and Donald Trump carried Michigan.
Hillary Clinton almost never campaigned in the city and you see what happened to her. Black voters have not forgotten.
Today, party officials are calling up Democratic donors and telling them not to give Senate candidate Hill Harper any money. Same disrespect, just a different election cycle.
Detroit is being represented in congress by two Democrats who have a different agenda from what district residents need and want. Tlaib's agenda is the Gaza Strip. It was never about Detroit. Shri Thanedar is a carpetbagger who has no clue how to deal with issues in his district. Residents call other congressional offices for help.
Yes, Michigan Democrats have a Black voter problem, and as we get closer to the November election, more and more Black voters will be deciding to sit this one out.