State House Democratic candidate Sam Singh, who is running for the 69th district seat, received an endorsement from the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association last week, adding to a growing list of support from area associations and individuals.
But some political experts say despite candidates publicizing the support they’ve earned, endorsements aren’t always likely to have an impact on area voters, who often already are divided along party lines in the general election.
Singh is cruising to an easy victory in the Democratic-leaning district, which includes East Lansing, after securing dozens of endorsements for a tight primary battle.
Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, said in a general election, voters often already are decided on which candidate to vote for and are less likely to pay attention to endorsements.
“If you get a (United Auto Workers) endorsement in a Democratic primary, that’s worth its weight in gold,” he said. “On the other hand, in the general election, a UAW endorsement for Democrats doesn’t really mean much.”
Singh’s Aug. 7 primary victory over fellow Democrat Susan Schmidt was a hard-fought battle, despite Singh’s lead in campaign contributions.
After a few nervous moments when the race was too close to call, Singh ultimately won 52 percent of the vote to Schmidt’s 47 percent.
But from now until Nov. 6, campaign strategy is a different ball game, said Stephen Wooden, Singh’s former deputy campaign manager and president of the MSU College Democrats.
In August, Singh had to differentiate himself from another Democrat; now, he has to continue building a coalition of support among groups that might not traditionally get along, Wooden said.
“The major difference in the primary was strong local Democrats, not differing ideologies,” he said.
Singh’s Republican opponent, Meridian Township supervisor Susan McGillicuddy, has chosen not to solicit support from any businesses or associations, saying she quickly realized she would be “beholden” to those groups if she were elected.
“You sell your soul, and I’m not willing to do that,” she said.
Ballenger said because the district leans Democratic, McGillicuddy’s victory in the general election looks “almost impossible” and necessitates taking some strategic risks, such as not seeking endorsements from businesses or associations.
“She’s got to throw the long ball, as they say in football,” Ballenger said. “(Do) anything that convinces (people) in today’s climate.”
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