Sterling Heights mayor breaks from Republican counterparts by voting for Biden. Here’s what it signals.
Joe Biden has a new supporter and it’s a high-profile Republican mayor in Macomb County.
Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor made the unprecedented move last week by voting for Presidential candidate Joe Biden in the Michigan primary.
After a week full of national press, Taylor doubled-down on support of Biden, saying he will take Michigan in November. Taylor’s move by switching parties is another sign of Democrats’ appeal this election.
“Vice President @JoeBiden is going to win Michigan,” Taylor said in a Tweet last Monday night. “He only needs to pick up a small % of Trump voters like me and bring out some Obama voters who stayed home in 2016.”
A look at Taylor and his service
Taylor has been a Sterling Heights city official since 2009, serving three terms on the Sterling Heights City Council.
After the death of Mayor Richard Notte, Taylor was appointed to the position in Dec. 2014. He’s serving his third term. A lifelong resident of Sterling Heights, Taylor is an attorney by trade.
Sterling Heights operates in a weak mayor form of government where the city manager handles the day-to-day operations.
Still, residents credit Taylor for the major renovations in Sterling Heights. Over the past three years, the city has upgraded the library and Farmer’s Market. The city has built a new skating rink downtown, a splash pad and recreation center.
Longtime Sterling Heights resident Shelby Nicole said those changes show Taylor is an outstanding public servant.
“In the city last over the past three years, we’ve grown a lot. The city is doing very well,” Nicole said. “We’re growing a lot. Mayor Taylor is a true public servant in the sense that he’s solely interested in serving the people.”
A shocking move with big impacts
When reached by the Gander last week, Taylor declined to comment, saying he has more pressing issues to deal with such as the Coronavirus outbreak in Michigan.
“I’m not doing any more press. I’ve talked to a number of outlets and I’m ready to move on,” Taylor said. “Nothing has changed. I still support Joe Biden.”
Taylor told the Chicago Tribune, Biden will bring the country back together again.
“I think Joe Biden is the candidate who can unify all of the Democrats, and he’s the candidate who can appeal to moderates and Republicans like me who don’t want to see four more years of President Trump,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s distaste for the leadership of Trump has ruffled some feathers among his more conservative counterparts.
In a tweet, Michigan GOP chair Laura Cox said she hopes Taylor enjoyed his new-found fame in supporting Biden, but the Republican Party will still deliver Macomb County as it did in 2016.
Later, Cox said Taylor “is not really a Republican” after he spent $340,000 in taxpayer money on a modern art ring along a major thoroughfare in Sterling Heights.
“It’s no shock that Mike Taylor is supporting Joe Biden for President,” Cox said in a released statement. “Clearly, Mike Taylor is nothing more than a political opportunist. Just two months ago, Taylor accepted an invitation to the White House and praised the President. He then praised Mayor Pete (Buttigieg). Then praised Michael Bloomberg.”
As mayor, Taylor had had his share of unpopular moves with some supporters.
The city was the butt of many jokes when it built a huge ring in the median of a main thoroughfare, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The M59 Golden Corridor icon — a 35-foot-by-35-foot golden ring — in the median of M-59/Hall Road near Lakeside Mall is part of a bigger plan to make the city more unique and distinctive, boost businesses and draw new residents, Taylor said.
Sterling Heights also accepted a $350,000 settlement with American Islamic Cultural Center over building their mosque.
He also faced scrutiny after telling a constituent in 2017 to “go to hell” on a Facebook post. He claimed the man was trolling him.
Another incident found Taylor serving as an attorney in a guardian case where Sterling Heights residents questioned whether it was ethical to handle the case while serving as mayor.
Still, he remains largely popular with Macomb County locals and this new move has the potential to lock in more supporters looking for a new wave of leadership.
Why eyes are on Macomb County this election
The significance of Taylor’s defection gained national media attention, not just from the Tribune, but from the Washington Post, MSNBC and others. He’s the mayor of the state’s fourth-largest city and a Republican politician in Macomb County, which, in 2016, went for Donald Trump after supporting Barack Obama in the previous two elections.
The Washington Post said it “opens a window on whether many moderate Republican-leaning voters will do the same.”
That’s why the move to support Biden is being praised by some Sterling Heights residents, including Nicole.
“It weighed very heavily hard on him,” Nicole said. “I would like to see more of that embraced because we need unity and we need bi-partisanship.