Write-In Leads Detroit Mayor’s Race

Matthew Dolan, Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2013

The race for Detroit’s next mayor is shaping up as a battle between big business and big labor as the cash-poor city scrambles to emerge from bankruptcy.

Mike Duggan, a former hospital executive who staged a write-in campaign with the support of prominent corporate leaders, appears to have won the most votes in a primary contest Tuesday, according to preliminary results. He beat Benny Napoleon, a well-known county sheriff who had the backing of labor unions.

Mike Duggan

Mike Duggan

County officials still need to confirm the results, which could be complicated by Mr. Duggan’s write-in candidacy. But if the results stand, Mr. Duggan and Mr. Napoleon will face off in a November general election.

Mr. Duggan, a former prosecutor who later led a turnaround at one of Detroit’s largest hospitals, staged a well-funded write-in effort after he was knocked off the ballot for a technical problem connected to his recent move to the city from a suburb. More than half of all voters—52.6%—wrote in their choice for mayor, and almost all of them picked Mr. Duggan. Mr. Napoleon received 29.6% of the votes cast. About 18% of registered voters turned out for the nonpartisan primary.

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Mr. Napoleon, 57 years old, is sheriff of Wayne County, which includes Detroit, and previously served as head of the Detroit Police Department. Among his largest supporters are unions, including auto workers. A spokeswoman for the United Auto Workers didn’t return a request for comment.

Benny Napoleon

Benny Napoleon

Detroit’s next mayor will wield little real power at first. The city of about 700,000 was taken over in March by an emergency manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. {snip}

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If Mr. Duggan wins in November, he would be Detroit’s first white mayor in almost 40 years. More than 82% of city residents are African-American.

“It does not matter if you are black, brown or white,” Mr. Duggan said in a speech after Tuesday’s election. “All of us are sharing a dream to rebuild this city together.”

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Mr. Duggan, who was born in Detroit but moved back into the city from the suburbs only last year, promised that if elected, he would try to persuade Mr. Snyder to remove Mr. Orr and let the mayor steer the city back into solvency.

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