By Ryan Isakow
Mike Duggan pulled off an unexpected victory in yesterday’s primary for Detroit Mayor, getting 46% of the vote through a write-in campaign. Duggan went from a well-positioned candidate to underdog after his name was taken off the ballot on a technicality in June, forcing him to rely on write-ins to progress in the primary.
Duggan’s campaign has gotten intense media attention on the state level, frequently surpassing Governor Rick Snyder and current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. The only Michigan state-level politician with more coverage is Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
The dismal coverage of Mayor Bing, which we covered in a previous blog post, is mostly attributable to Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Since the announcement of an emergency manager last March, the city government has played an increasingly small role in managing Detroit, leading to less coverage. On the flipside, Orr has recently become the major political figure in the state – an unusual position for an unelected politician.
One of the big questions in this election is what role the next Mayor will have vis a vis Kevyn Orr. Coverage of Duggan has moved roughly in consort with Orr – we’ll be keeping an eye on whether he can decouple his state coverage, implying a return of power and influence to city government.
The same trend can be seen in changes in Twitter followers and discussions on Facebook, where Mike Duggan has been making impressive gains. Although still below Snyder in total Twitter followers and Facebook “talked abouts”, he’s growing at a fast rate – especially since his primary victory.
The jump in Duggan’s social media presence could potentially lead to increased out of state interest in his candidacy, opening new fundraising opportunities. Thanks to national coverage of the Detroit Bankruptcy, the Mayoral race has the potential to get widespread attention outside of the State. Utilizing social media is one avenue to channeling his coverage into donations. He has already raised more than $1 million so far, compared to his opponent Benny Napoleon who has so far raised just north of $600,000.
Mike Duggan’s candidacy is a demonstration of increasing viability for write-in candidates, such as Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s current Senior Senator. We expect social media to open new doors for public engagement; while being the write-in candidate is never an easy path to victory, it’s becoming increasingly possible.