WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is finding something unusual in his late campaign push before Tuesday’s election — a Democratic Senate candidate willing to appear with him.
Obama was to headline a Saturday evening rally in Detroit for Senate candidate Gary Peters and Mark Schauer, the nominee for governor. The event at Wayne State University was expected to attract about 5,000 people.
Obama has been spending the final week before Election Day campaigning in support of candidates for governor across the Northeast and Midwest. Peters is the only Senate candidate welcoming the president’s embrace, and polling gives the Democrat a comfortable lead in the race.
Also, Obama was visiting the U.S. city with the largest concentration of black residents. Black voters view Obama’s presidency much more favorably than do white voters, and they are seen as the key to determining Democrats’ performance.
Democratic senators in tight races have distanced themselves from their party’s head by criticizing his leadership and avoiding appearing with him. Peters, however, has welcomed Obama’s help and appeared with the president last spring as he was trying to build support.
Polls show Peters with a comfortable lead over Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin. Land began a “Stop Obama” bus tour Saturday morning, with 17 stops planned over three days. She said Obama’s policies were not working in her state.
Schauer, a former congressman, faces a more uncertain outcome in his challenge against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, with polls showing the Democrat trailing or in a dead heat. Schauer has been trying to use Obama’s successful voter database to turn out some of the nearly 1 million Michigan Democrats who tend to stay home in gubernatorial races.
“It’s a known fact that there are more Democrats in Michigan than there are Republicans, so the president is going to come in and remind voters why they need to vote,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson, who has sent out more than 1 million absentee ballot applications. “Who better to make the case that your vote is important than the president who carried Michigan twice?”
Just as some Democrats are quick to criticize the president, Snyder says he has a “constructive” relationship with Obama’s administration. Snyder is among nine GOP governors to expand Medicaid for low-income people — an important part of Obama’s health care law — and the governor has worked with administration officials on a plan to help pull Detroit from bankruptcy.