Griffin Policy Forum to discuss Republican presidential primary, predict winner

While the Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential race has not been selected, predictions are already being made about the outcome of the November election.

A panel of political insiders will share their predictions on the candidates and issues involved in the election at the Griffin Policy Forum at 7 p.m. Monday in the Powers Hall Ballroom. Admission to the forum is free.

Panelists will include Jill Alper, democratic strategist and media consultant at Dewey Square Group; Rusty Hills, director of public affairs for the Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette; John Truscott, president and principal of Truscott Rossman; and Rick Wiener, founder of Wiener Associates. The moderator will be Rick Pluta, managing editor and state capitol bureau chief from Michigan Public Radio Network.

“These are people anyone would like to sit down and chew the political fat with,” said Maxine Berman, the Griffin Endowed Chair and organizer of the forum. “They are about as high as you can get as far as insiders in both parties. They have been intimately involved in political campaigns for years."

Truscott and Alper write point-counterpoint columns in the Detroit Free Press on a regular basis, Berman said.

“This panel is extraordinary,” said David Jesuit, associate professor in the political science department. “These are the inside power players of Michigan politics.”

Berman said the discussion will cover issues as well as candidates.

“I’m sure people will be making predictions about who will win and lose and by what percentages, but more important, or maybe equally important, will be the big issues,” she said.

Berman said the discussion will probably touch on the influence super PACs and the “nastiness that has occurred” in the primaries.

Jesuit said the presidential race will be an important topic of the discussion, both by itself and in how it will impact other lower-level races in Michigan and nationwide.

“If the Republican candidate is not competitive (in Michigan), that will impact voter turnout. Republicans won’t be as excited to go out and vote, which would impact Republicans in other races,” Jesuit said.

Berman said she expects a good conversation and “maybe some fireworks.”

“I think people will enjoy hearing from true masters of politics,” she said.

Jesuit said the event will help students understand how politics and the electoral process function.

“A lot of the frustration I hear expressed by students and some of my neighbors (in regard to politics) stems from a lack of understanding about how (politics) work,” Jesuit said. “With a better understanding, people are less frustrated with the process and know how to promote the issues they care about.”