Slightly less than a month until the Nov. 2 election, newly elected Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Houston has his work cut out for him.
Republicans are smelling political blood and looking to tea party movement momentum to help them regain the ground they lost in the Democrat tsunami of 2008.
Add to that the resignation of the former party chairman and political director in a challenge to candidate filings for a "fake" tea party, and a subsequent grand jury investigation, and Houston has his plate full.
But the election is shaping up well, says Houston, and he expects no criminal charges to come out of the grand jury investigation into activities by former party workers.
"From what I've seen, the county party is in pretty good shape for this election cycle," said Houston, who agreed to take over leadership of the county Democratic Party in August and stay until December.
"I'd be surprised if I saw any criminal charges filed against the Democratic Party or anyone associated with it about the tea party allegations."
Investigations were launched in August questioning filings for a group calling itself The Tea Party, particularly that some were notarized by the same person who worked for the local party.
The group calling itself The Tea Party was refused political party status on the November ballot.
But that political brouhaha doesn't necessarily make the upcoming election any tougher for Democrats.
This year's election, he says, is going to be tough for both parties because of some anti-incumbent sentiment and a general distrust in government.
"I think both parties have their work cut out for them getting their message out," Houston said. "I don't necessarily think one party is going to clean up over the other one, locally or statewide."
Heading into the final month of the election, the county Democrats have scheduled a full range of events, many coinciding around the televised debate Sunday, Oct. 10, in Wixom between the two major parties' candidates for governor, Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero.
Events scheduled for the same day as the debate are:
• Troy Democrats hold a 6 p.m. debate watch party at Troy Place Apartments, 2869 Troy Center Drive in Troy. People wanting to attend can RSVP to 248-362-0893 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Pontiac Coordinated Campaign Office holds their debate watch event at 6:30 p.m. at The Crofoot Ballroom on the corner of Pike and Saginaw streets in Pontiac. The event is free and open to the public.
• A fundraiser for Bernero will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Pipe Fitters Local 636, 30100 Northwestern Highway in Farmington Hills. The cost is $25. People interested in attending can RSVP to email@example.com or 517-708-2900.
• Democrat Jocelyn Benson, candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, holds a fundraiser at the home of Iris Lopez and Alan Kaufman, 5780 Swan Lake Court in West Bloomfield with a general reception from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. People interested in attending can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or Alan 248-737-6079. Benson's opponent in the Nov. 2 election is Republican Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson.
Other local Democratic Party events in the remaining weeks until the election are:
• A fundraiser for Waterford Township Trustee candidate John Paul Torres from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, at Kennedy's Irish Pub, 1057 W. Huron in Waterford. The cost is $25 for a supporter, $50 for a sponsor and $100 for a VIP. Information is available at www.johnpaultorres.com.
Torres' opponents on the Nov. 2 ballot are Republican Anthony Bartolotta and U.S. Taxpayers Party's Paul J. Greenawalt.
• A free event for Democrat candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, U.S. Congress and Michigan Supreme Court is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11 at Schoolcraft Community College, 18600 Haggerty Road in Livonia.
• A fundraiser for Oakland County Commissioner Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, is Monday, Oct. 11, at Bo's Brewery, 51 N. Saginaw in Pontiac. The suggested donation is $20. Times are available by calling 248-584-0510.
Running against Greimel is Republican Bob Kittle.
• A fundraiser for Bernero is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at UAW Local 653, 670 E. Walton in Pontiac. More information is available from Ruth Wood at 989-752-9595.
• A fundraiser for Judge Denise Langford-Morris, candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court, is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17 at Fishbones of Southfield, 29244 Northwestern Highway in Southfield. The minimum donation is $30. Tickets are available by contacting 313-460-1719 or email@example.com.
• A fundraiser for Oakland County Commissioner Steven Schwartz is 7-9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at 29867 Highvalley Court in Farmington Hills. The suggested donation is $25 and information is available by calling 248-584-0510.
Appearing with Schwartz is Democrat candidate for Michigan Attorney General David Leyton.
Running against Schwartz is Republican Bill Dwyer. Running against Leyton is Republican Bill Schuette.
• An event for Democrat Nancy Quarles is 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at Fishbones Rhythm Cafe, 29244 Northwestern Highway in Southfield. There is no charge but people are asked to RSVP by Oct. 21 to 248-496-3816.
Quarles is running for county commissioner against Republican Charles Ehrenreich in District 23, representing Southfield.
Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @crummc.