Some Sanders supporters are running for the Michigan House, but it's a slow start

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column asking where Bernie Sanders' revolution was in Michigan. Given his stunning win in the March 8 primary, I would have expected that Sanders supporters would be fueling grassroots efforts in the state and running for office themselves.

However, I wrote that I hadn't seen much evidence of either. Since then, a few readers wrote in about some candidates organizing and running at the local level, which is crucial.

Today, the Detroit News had a story on six Sanders supporters running for the state House. That's the good news for those trying to push the Democratic Party in a more liberal direction.

Here's the bad news. There are literally hundreds of Democrats running for the Legislature this cycle –– all 110 House seats are up. And the News could only identify a half-dozen diehard Sanders supporters. 

It gets worse. Of the six candidates, only two look well-positioned to even win the primary. One is Eric Anderson, who's running unopposed in the Dem race for 87th District, which has a 62-percent Republican base, according to Inside Michigan Politics. To make matters worse, he's running in the general against Julie Calley, wife of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

The second is Betsy Coffia, who has the advantage of having previously run in the 104th District. Even if she again becomes the Democratic nominee, she's still facing an incumbent, Rep. Larry Inman (R-Traverse City) in a northern Michigan district with a 59 percent GOP base, where Donald Trump is polling well.

Sanders did as well as he did in the primary because of enthusiastic grassroots organizing. How many times have progressives gasped in horror at what the GOP-controlled Legislature has done in terms of education policy, LGBT rights, abortion rights, labor law and the social safety net? I still believe that's fertile ground for self-declared "Berniecrats" to truly make their mark with grassroots efforts.

Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. Her political columns can be found at Follow her on Twitter here.