Wayne County Executive
Robert Ficano hasn’t said he’s a candidate for re-election – but neither has he said he isn't.
If you’re taking bets, the odds got a bit better that the embattled executive, whose administration has been besieged with scandals since 2011, is a candidate for another four-year term.
On Tuesday, the Robert A. Ficano Committee held a private gathering with CEOs, friends and colleagues, where a four-page document listing his accomplishments, defending him against critics and including a section asking attendees how they’d like to help with a re-election campaign was distributed, the Detroit News reports.
A web site address – www.robertficano.com – was provided, but it appears to still be under construction.
When the Detroit News asked what the flurry of campaign-like activity meant, the newspaper got a vague response.
“It was specifically mentioned that the discussion did not constitute an official announcement of candidacy,” Ficano’s re-election committee reportedly said in an email.
The business executives attending the meet-and-greet likely didn’t include Bill Ford Jr., Ford Motor Co.’s executive chairman, who is publicly supporting Westland Mayor William Wild in the August primary to select Democrats’ candidate – the de facto winner if history repeats itself in heavily Democratic Wayne County.
Ford’s endorsement is significant. For one thing, it’s rare for Ford to take a position on a local race and, importantly, he wields great influence among Detroit and Michigan’s key business and economic development leaders.
An October poll by Target Insyght of Lansing put Ficano and Westland dead last with 11 percent in a theoretical race that also would include former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who finished first with 20 percent), and state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township, and Wayne County Commissioner Kevin McNamara, who finished with 12 percent each.
Cavanagh, McNamara and Wild have all announced their candidacies.
The poll had a margin of error of 4.5 percent, meaning the race would be tight for all of the declared or likely candidates.
Target Insyght’s Ed Sarpolus is among those betting Ficano will run..
“(Ficano) has been running for well over a year,” he told the Detroit News. “They believe the votes are going to be so divided, and they believe that he’s the only one who will have any real money and he’ll be able to outraise and outspend them.”
Ficano’s latest campaign spending report shows he has $400,000 in his campaign and political action committees – more than any of the other Democrats likely to run.
Even dogged by the scandal of an ongoing FBI investigation that has already sent several aides to prison for taking bribes from contractors and a legacy of dubious financial management, incumbency could position Ficano well for a fourth term.
“I do think he has more than a fighting chance,” Bill Ballenger, an editor for Inside Michigan Politics, said. “He does have the name ID — it may not be very positive at this point, but that may be better than nothing.”
DISCUSS: Who has your support for Wayne County Executive? What would you like for your neighbors to know about why you’re supporting that person? Tell us below in the comments.