As you prepare to vote, WDET has resources about the gubernatorial candidates to help you decide which one you will support in the Aug. 7 primary and the November general election. WDET, as part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, interviewed most of the candidates who are vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations in August. Sandra Svoboda and Pat Batcheller discussed the project.
Click on the audio link above to hear their conversation, or find a full transcript of it below.
Click on the candidates’ names to view video interviews and hear about their positions on issues important to Michigan:
Sandra Svoboda: We had one full hour with each candidate. Some even went a little bit longer than that. They had a lot to say, and it definitely moved beyond sound bites. The hour timing and the format, it really gave us the chance to dig in, to ask follow up questions of each candidates, and in a lot of cases make them say how they would pay and finance a lot of the proposals and policies that they were putting forth if they are elected.
Pat Batcheller: So which journalists were asking the questions, and who all did you talk to?
Sandra Svoboda: It was a panel of journalists from the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, so I was there representing WDET. We had moderators from Detroit Public Television. We had Riley Beggin, a reporter from Bridge Magazine. We had Steve Carmody from Michigan Radio, Hassan Khalifeh from the Arab American News representing New Michigan Media. WDET’s Sascha Raiyn sat in one day as an education reporter and kind of representing Chalkbeat Detroit. Their reporter, Erin Einhorn, was there for one of the days as well. So they really focused on the education questions, we asked a lot of those.
Of the seven candidates that are vying for the two party nominations, we had six of them. Attorney General Bill Schuette, despite several requests, declined to participate. He said he had a scheduling conflict, but we did offer him several days.
Pat Batcheller: How much real substance were you getting from these candidates, and how much of it was the usual political spin that you hear this time of year?
Sandra Svoboda: We definitely heard some cases where the three Republican candidates sounded like they were off some party talking points and the same for the Democrats. There were even certain phrases that both of them used. I’m sort of being facetious on the talking points – the parties do have different positions on issues, like Enbridge, for example, which is where we saw some variation. But at the same time, there was plenty of time for follow up. There were some very seasoned reporters sitting across from the candidates in a television studio, Detroit Public Television, with bright lights, and the candidates in some cases got multiple follow ups when we did not feel like they were not answering the question.
Pat Batcheller: You said you had one hour with each candidate, which of course doesn’t fit into Morning Edition newscasts very easily, so how can people learn about what the candidates said?
Sandra Svoboda: Well, multiple ways. First of all, I mentioned all of the media outlets that are part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. That project, of course, is made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Each of those media outlets have their own digital platforms. There is a television station, there are two radio stations involved, and there are five newspapers plus the online publications that are all publishing and airing work from this project. So there are multiple ways people can come in. For example, at WDET.org, you can come in and find a page for each candidate, which has the full hour video, which has a transcript, which is easily navigable by issue topic.
And then we also have issue pages that are coming out over next few weeks leading up to the Aug. 7 election where you can come, for example, and see “transit.” So you can see what each candidate specifically said about transit and a playlist from DPTV, and you can see a highlighted quote and a link to their specific transcript on that particular issue. So we really tried to make this, for all of those voters who are undecided, they can look at it both by candidate and by issue and on multiple platforms.
Here’s what the Detroit Journalism Cooperative partners are publishing and airing as part of the project:
Detroit Public Television:
Interview Playlists of All Candidates’ Answers by Question Topic
The Great Lakes and Water Quality
Immigration and Refugees
Mobility and Transportation
Redistricting - The Voters Not Politicians Initiative
Leadership and Responsibility
Is FOIA like the Russia probe? And other surprises from Michigan GOP candidates
Where do they stand? The governor candidates and their plans for Michigan
IDs for undocumented workers? And other surprises from Michigan Democrats
Brian Calley: What Michigan could learn from ‘Pissed Off Autism Moms’
Patrick Colbeck: Eliminate income taxes to expand Michigan’s economy, population
Jim Hines: Michigan school problems can’t be solved with money alone
Bill Schuette: Michigan must fix education, lower taxes and car insurance
Abdul El-Sayed: Expand health care, access to education in Michigan
Shri Thanedar: Fix Michigan schools by taxing rich, reforming prisons
Gretchen Whitmer: Grow Michigan by offering debt-free community college
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