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Duggan makes history with winning write-in campaign; Napoleon rallies supporters

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Duggan is mobbed by supporters after apparently winning the primary.

 Write-in candidates claimed over half the vote in Detroit’s mayoral primary Tuesday.

And that means Mike Duggan’s write-in campaign has made Detroit history.

The former Detroit Medical Center CEO’s campaign was well-organized and well-funded. There was just one problem: a court challenge got him kicked off the ballot.

But apparently that wasn’t a big problem.

Though official results may take some time, Duggan appears to have defeated his next-closest rival, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, by 20 points.

Sounding confident about his chances going forward, Duggan says he’ll spend the next three months outlining a “concrete plan” to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy “stronger and better.”

Acknowledging that whatever power he initially has as mayor will be severely limited, Duggan nonetheless seemed confident he could wield influence behind the scenes.

“I’m going to engage the emergency manager and Governor every day, and if they don’t listen I’m going to engage the bankruptcy judge,” Duggan said.

He also promised he would try to convince Governor Snyder to cut emergency manager Kevyn Orr loose as soon as possible. And he vowed to “draw a line in the sand” when it comes to protecting Detroit’s assets.

“Belle Isle…the art at the DIA…the water department…and the recreation centers are critical to our future,” Duggan said. “And they have to be protected, and they can be.”

Duggan also said Detroit retirees’ pensions shouldn’t be touched. Orr has proposed cutting them to shed a big chunk of Detroit’s roughly $11 billion in unsecured debt.

Duggan and Napoleon will face off in the November general election. Napoleon finished second to what was seen as Duggan's long-shot write-in campaign.

But Napoleon says he's energized for the run-off election in November. He took a few jabs at Duggan, who was well financed by Detroit’s business leaders.

“We can continue to focus on downtown…or we can finally elect a mayor who will focus on our neighborhoods…for the people who have hung in there,” Napoleon told them.

Napoleon picked up about a third of the votes cast in the mayoral primary. Other candidates on the ballot picked up 6% or less of the votes cast.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.