It’s kinda weird that Biden and Buttigieg haven’t stumped in Michigan

Former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Michigan has had 14 of the 24 Democratic presidential contenders grace us with their presence this year. But the two biggest candidates from the Midwest — Scranton, Pa., native former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — have yet to stump here.

Ever since now-President Donald Trump pulled the Upper Midwest hat trick by winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016, Democrats have been obsessed with taking those states back. While previous modern presidential campaigns have focused almost exclusively on the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the industrial Midwest has emerged as a focal point in 2020.

Susan J. Demas: The road to the White House runs through Michigan (so far)

Another Midwest candidate, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), did a Kent County fundraiser in May. But he’s at less than 1% in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Biden, in contrast, has been the frontrunner since he jumped in late in April. And Buttigieg has occupied the wunderkind slot in media coverage, vaulting him into the top tier. Both have made the argument that their Midwest roots give them an advantage in the presidential race.

“I actually live in a middle-class lifestyle, in a middle-class neighborhood, in the American Midwest,” Buttigieg told CNBC.

And Biden’s hard-scrabble Scranton roots have been at the core of his political career, which began in the 1970s in Delaware. (“Joe Biden from gritty Scranton; they really resent that in Delaware,” he said in a folksy April speech).

The definitive, incomplete guide to 2020 hopefuls’ Michigan campaign stops

Last cycle, Biden headlined a November 2018 rally for now-U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) in Lansing that featured now-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Dems. And on Thursday, Buttigieg’s husband, Traverse City native Chasten Buttigieg, is doing a closed-door fundraiser for the Ingham County Democrats.

So far, that’s as close as Michigan has gotten to a Biden or Pete Buttigieg 2020 campaign visit. But given the significance for Democrats of rebuilding the “Blue Wall” next year, that will likely change sooner than later.

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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