The Washington Post

5 reasons you should care about the Detroit mayor’s race

Voters will go to the polls in Detroit on Tuesday to winnow a field of 16 candidates for the city's top job down to just two.

If you're just tuning in to the campaign now, you've come across one worth watching. Not only is it a crucial marker for a city in turmoil, it's also chock full of political intrigue.

Not sold yet? Here are five reasons to pay attention when the polls close Tuesday night:

1. Detroit's bankruptcy. Whoever succeeds outgoing Mayor Dave Bing will have the unenviable task of taking the reins of a city in economic shambles. Detroit last month filled the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history, following decades of decline for a city that was once booming with economic activity. The next mayor will be under under a statewide and even national spotlight, given the backdrop against they will enter office. And it remains to be seen what, if anything, they will be able to accomplish.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan. (Carlos Osorio/AP) Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

2. A field of 16 (!). Being mayor right now sounds  like a rough gig, doesn't it? Well, that hasn't deterred a whopping 16 candidates from entering the mix, including two notable write-ins (more on that below). The more candidates, the harder it tends to be to predict the outcome of a campaign. And this contest is no exception.

3. First white mayor since 1974? Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan is one of the frontrunners headed into Tuesday, with a recent poll showing him at the top of the heap ahead of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. Duggan would be the first white mayor of Detroit since 1974. But his fate is far from certain. That's because Duggan will have to first succeed as a write-in candidate. He was struck from the ballot because of a residency issue and now faces the tough task of finishing ahead of 12 other candidates whose names actually do appear on the ballot.

4. Duggan? Dugeon? The other write-in candidate is named Mike Dugeon. That's right, Mike Dugeon. Kinda like Mike Duggan, right? The potential for voter confusion is another headache waiting to happen for Duggan, who has blamed Napoleon's campaign for orchestrating the campaign of Dugeon, a political newcomer. Duggan has been doing all he can to make sure voters get the spelling of his name right, even releasing a jingle with a reminder that it's D-U-G-G-A-N.

5. This one could take a while ... The Detroit News pointed out last week that the write-in votes could delay the final results of Tuesday's elections. Officials will have to decide how to deal with the inevitable misspellings of Duggan/Dugeon. And if the result comes down to those ballots, well, then get ready for a whole lot of arguing from the campaigns.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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Sean Sullivan · August 5, 2013

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