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August 02, 1978 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-08-02

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, August 2, 1978-Page 9
'ITZGERALD: Slick packaging

iTATE SEN. BILL Fitzgerald presents
a palatable package, with his All
rerican looks, legislative exerience and
unteous supply of camp a funds
100,000). But when that image is
netrated, it is clear that his stands on the
ues differ little from those of the rest of
efield of Democratic contenders.
The 36-year-old Detroiter's pet issue is
proving Michigan's business climate-a
al that has been trumpeted by all the
bernatorial candidates as they curse
rd Motor Co. and other transnational
rporations for shifting some operations
other states and countries.
Fitzgerald has been compared to the
ennedys, mostly because he is young,
ish and Catholic, not necessarily for his
itics. His uncle and father served in the

state legislature, which made his oc-
cupation seem almost predestined.
ON THE CAMPAIGN trail, Fitzgerald
displayed a picture-perfect image for the
television cameras and the Polish-
American Retirees. His slow, clear speech
was contrasted with the folksy, backslap-
ping slang he used with Detroit Chrysler
Stamping Plant employees at the plant
gates that same afternoon. The candidate
had shucked his suitcoat, rolled up his
sleeves and refrained long enough from his
incessant hair-comoing to greet the
workers of the plant where he used to be a
press operator.
When he told the workers, "I know what
you guys face in there," a few long faces
brightened and some took a second look at
the candidate. Some replied; "I'm glad

~overnor's seat
the popularity of the incumbent
(lte caliber of the candidates them-
pposed on the Republican ticket.
Ie millionaire governor has spent
ary campaign. Many observers have
trounce any one of the four easily.
laims to be the only one capable of
election a close race.
omination will receive an additional
ste for the rest of the campaign. This
cites have received substantial public
crest for office. Criticism of the fun-
een almost nonexistent, and almost
tmade the campaign more fair.
tdecided voters has been calculated
's polls. That fact and the good
oter turnout next Tuesday has kept
vsw: The Senate hopefuls Milliken

somebody got out" and "I wish I could
trade places with you now."
Following his work on the assembly line,
Fitzgerald attended Western Michigan
University and then studied law at the
University of Detroit while he taught and
coached at a high school on Detroit's west
side and worked as a legislative aide for
the City of Detroit. He also worked for
Zolton Ferency in his 1966 bid for gover-
nor, a man now his opponent in this race.
IN 1971, the aspiring young politician was
elected to the state House of Represen-
tatives, where he chaired the committee
on Economic Development. He was re-
elected in 1972, and in 1974 the voters sent
him to the state Senate representing
Michigan's First District. He served as
majority leader for two years, the
youngest ever to hold that position.
Critics say he enraged too many people
and flaunted his position, which prompted
his democratic colleagues to oust him
from the post. His press secretary,
Michael Bartlett, said, "He was pissing
people off by trying to get things done out-
side the hierarchy." Added Bargtlett of his
boss, "He's young and can't tolerate
But Fitzgerald was slow to respond on
the tax reform proposals that will beon the
November ballot until last week, when he
endorsed the Headlee proposal, but not
without reservations. He acknowledged
potential pitfalls of that measure, such as
threats to tax breaks for businesses and
limits on budget stabilization, but ex-
plained, "These problems can by resolved
problems on university campuses. He said
divestiture of South African holdings by
public institutions is a federal issue and
does not concern a candidate seeking
statewide office, despite the fact that a bill
forcing divestiture now sits in the state
House. "I don't know the nature or extent
that they hold them," he said.

The polished politico seemed uninfor-
med and appeared hostile when questioned
on the U.S. government-backed spraying
of marijuana plants by the Mexican
government. After the situation was ex-
plained he said, "They have every right to
kill them." Later, he said he could not sup-
port the use of American dollars for the
Earlier in the campaign, opponent

William Ralls requested an investigation
of Fitzgerald's campaign contributions in
view of nearly 100 contributions amounting
to about $9,700 from Michigan National
Bank employees. The contributions en-
titled Fitzgerald to close to $20,000 in
public funding under the new State cam-
paign financing laws. Secretary of State
Richard Austin said he knew of no
illegalities in Fitzgerald's finances.
Fitzgerald said the net effect of Ralls'
charges "substantiated our clean record
and was a source of embarrassment for

RALLS: An outsider looking in

BILL RALLS HAS no legislative exper-
ience and has never before bid for
public office-facts which lead him to
believe that if he is elected, Michigan will
not be watching reruns of the last sixteen
years of Republican rule.
But the boyish-faced political newcomer
has displayed a rather lackluster image
and has centered his campaign around at-
tacks upon the present administration and
his Democratic opponents from the
The former Milliken appointee to the
mostly Republican Public Service Com-
mission (PSC) is hoping his record of
voting against utility rate hikes will propel
him into the Governor's seat.
RALLS IS A young (35) slim, Yale and
Harvard graduate, whose political ex-
perience was acquired while working for
State Senate majority leader Sander
Levin. He also served on the State In-
surance Commission prior to his stint on
the PSC.
Ralls' attire is no flashier than his
discourse. He looks most natural in a suit
and tie whereas the other candidates
merely tolerate the campaign uniform.
The Okemos lawyer sparks little fire in his
speeches. He tends to repeat the same .
statements blasting the Milliken ad-
ministration's handling of the PBB fiasco,
mental health abuses and economic
failures thatlhe was saying six montps ago.

This is not to say the faults he finds have
changed, but he has not come up with any
new ideas or remedies to the ills he is ad-
While facing large audiences, his speech
delivery is uninspiring, halting, laden with
false starts and lacking charisma. But in a
small group or on a one-to-one level, he
comes across as more sincere and concer-
HE IS NOT a member of the state
political establishment, and he considers
that a blessing.
He worked in Gerald Ford's
congressional office during his college
years. This bipartisan experience and the
lack of support from labor and corporate
leaders prompts Ralls to dub himself an
independent Democrat, who "transcends
political caucuses."
Ralls' proposed remedy to most present
problems is to expel most state depar-
tment heads and executive appointees, a
plan echoed by his fellow gubernatorial
hopefuls. He has also called for complete
disclosure of lobbying activities.
He has not endorsed any of the tax
reform proposals slated for voter sanction
in November. He calls the tax limiting
proposals "directives to the state gover-
nment to reorder spending priorities and

they are all "indictments of the current
governor and my opponents in the state
where he believes public education is
inadequate, led him to believe education
should be the top spending priority, which
concurs with the spending agenda of the
other candidates,
A few weeks ago, Ralls requested an in-
vestigation by the Secretary of State of op-
ponent Bill Fitzgerald's campaign finan-

cing. Ralls expressed suspicion of a
violation of the law in view of about $9,700
in contributions from employees of
Michigan National Bank.Corp. Ralls never
filed a formal complaint, but Secretary of
State Richard Austin conducted a brief
study of Fitzgerald's campaign con-
tributions and said he found nothing in-
dicating illegal donations.
Ralls said he feels the charges had "a
positive effect, they were never answered
or denied." He also pointed to close to
$20,000 in public matching funds Fit-
zgerald received as a result of the private
donations. Michigan's new campaign
financing law provides $2 in public funds
for every dollar donated in $100 or less
amounts to a candidate's campaign after
the first $50,000 is raised privately.
LARGER SUMS MUST be contributed
through a corporate political action com-
mittee, which in this case could have only
allotted Fitzgerald an additional $200 in
state funds.
Like Fitzgerald, Ralls seemed uninfor-
med on the subject of the U.S. government-
backed program of spraying of Mexican
marijuana plants with the toxic herbicide
paraquat. Upon hearing a brief ex-
planation of the situation he said, "it soun-
ds like an ill-advised project."
When asked how vofers can be assured
that he will deliver the campaign promises
he makes, Ralls replied, "I'm not making
any promises."

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