Crystal Crittendon, the fired Detroit corporation counsel did what many in politics often choose to ignore. And that is to come back and run against the administration that removed them from office by tapping into the frustration of residents about that administration, or challenge the chief executive they fought with publicly over hot button public policy issues.
However Crittendon made a well politically calculated move yesterday when she announced that she will be running for mayor of Detroit in the coming mayoral race, an apparent rebuke of her former boss Mayor Dave Bing. The embattled lawyer who once headed the city’s law department until her public spat with Mayor Bing chose Bert’s marketplace for the announcement, a place that is known to be the rallying point for many commmunity events in the city. In choosing Bert’s as the venue she presented herself as the community and grassroots candidate in this race.
It is a shrewd political move by Crittendon because she can now present herself as the most visible villain in an alleged political manipulation by the Bing administration, and therefore will automatically garner sympathy votes as well as support from voters who vehemently opposed Bing’s reelection in the first place.
She enjoys the support of what has been termed as the “vocal minority” and will also get the support of residents who believe her firing has all to do with the makings of the long narrative in Detroit politics called “takeover” a theme some council members have been echoing in their opposition to Mayor Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder.
An added advantage for Crittendon is support from some female voters who see Detroit politics as an old boy’s club where women hardly rise to any prominent position only after a long protracted battle. She’ll tap into that political plank as well because she is not brainless like Sarah Palin. She was the city’s chief lawyer.
Last year at the height of her fight with Mayor Bing some members of a black lawyers group in Detroit distributed emails urging an instant halt to what they termed as an orchestrated campaign to silence Crittendon. The emails were just an indication of the broad support she has among some constituent organizations who are not the celebrated mainstream organizations but effective enough at the levels in which they operate and channel information to their membership.
Detroit is home to many grassroots organization born out of the desire to effect change in government from the bottom. How do they do this is up for debate but a Crittendon candidacy can be viewed by some of these groups as perhaps the only way to change how government has worked in Detroit.
Perhaps Mike Duggan understands that which is why the former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center has been meeting Detroiters in impoverished neighborhoods that are begging for city hall attention. The fact that Duggan has been having these meetings about 40 of them in living rooms of those cut out of the discourse about Detroit’s future shows how this mayoral election will shape. It also explains why the base Crittendon is going after matters.
Benny Napoleon, the Wayne County Sheriff also has initiated a listening tour to do pretty much the same, underscoring the importance of this base which he alluded to in his Palmer Woods remarks about the mass underclass in Detroit.
Crittendon’s campaign announcement presented her as a political villain in Detroit’s long political struggle. Whether you agree with it or not. What matters often in politics is for the factor to tell her own side of the story in a television ad or campaign literature highlighting the pains and tribulations and the response from voters become swift because emotional politics has always worked from national elections to local elections. She will be viewed as the political sacrificial lamb of the Bing administration whether fact or fiction.
It is too early to tell whether her campaign will make any significant headway yet but it will be foolish for anyone observing the landscape to ignore her candidacy as a factor. She’s going after the protest vote enough to make a legitimate presence on the mayoral campaign trail and present arguments that will otherwise be out of the discourse of the campaign.
For the other mayoral candidates in the race she could be the Ralph Nader or Ron Paul enough to make a political scare with consequences because she has identified a niche. She can’t be ignored. The mayoral campaign has just started.