“Plunking” means voting for just one person, even when you could vote for several.
On Nov 6, Please plunk for Sam Bagenstos for Michigan Supreme Court
This is easy to remember, because he’s the only candidate who has a hobbit-sounding name. Sometimes he wears little half-glasses while reading, which really underscores the hobbit thing, although he’s sort of a tall dude.
Voting for Michigan Supreme Court
This year we have six candidates running for two open seats in the Michigan Supreme Court. This is on the “non-partisan” portion of the ballot—that is, even though the nominees have a party affiliation, that affiliation isn’t listed on the ballot. As a result, in general, only about 50–60% of voters even bother to vote for a Michigan supreme court justice. When they do, they overwhelmingly pick the incumbent (who have “Justice of Supreme Court” listed under their names on the ballot—generally, the rational voters have is “Well, I can’t think of anything terrible the supreme court did this year, so whoever is on it must be doing a good job.”)
My point is two-fold: 1) It is a small number of well-informed voters, coupled with a bunch of people who just like ticking boxes, who elect our supreme court justices and 2) once you’re on, it’s easy to stay on.
Why am I asking you to vote for Sam?
- He’s a solid dude. I know him a little bit, personally, and know his wife and kids much better (we’re active in the same congregation). Sam isn’t in anyone’s pocket. He is smart and fair and works his ass off.
- He’s a civil rights dray horse. He was a top official in DoJ’s Civil Rights Division under Obama. In the last couple years Sam has argued and won important victories for pregnant workers and disabled children before the Supreme Court of the United States. He’s fighting for the people of Flint to hold the state accountable for their poisoned city water.
Why am I asking you to “plunk” for Sam?
You can vote for up to two supreme court justices. You could vote for both Sam and the other Dem nominee, Megan Cavanagh—with your rationale being that this brings us closer to getting at least one progressive justice on the court. But this is the midwest, and “Democrat” is not a reliable proxy for “progressive.” Megan Cavanagh has actually spent her career restricting civil rights, representing municipalities, police, and businesses against the sorts of clients that Sam has stuck up for. (FUN FACT: One time Cavanagh argued before the Michigan supreme court, representing an oil company that accidentally dumped 396 gallons of fuel oil into a woman’s basement, destroying her home.)
So, on the one hand, you have Cavanagh who worked to get an oil company out of paying $100,000 in damages to a woman whose home they destroyed. On the other, you have Sam representing the people of Flint after they suffered heavy metals poisoning at the hands of incompetent city admins.
If you plunk for Sam (voting for him and only him), you essentially double the value of your vote. This is important because, if trends persist (and there’s no reason they wouldn’t), the incumbents are going to devour the vast majority of the votes. Effectively, only one supreme court seat is open (if even). Voting for both Sam and Cavanagh is essentially saying that you figure it’s a coin-toss between the two, as to which will better bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
That simply isn’t true in this case. Sam is your justice. Please plunk for Sam. Please spread the word.