'West Wing' cast reunites to make campaign video for Ann Arbor's Bridget Mary McCormack
Bridget Mary McCormack, a University of Michigan law professor in Ann Arbor looking to make the leap to the Michigan Supreme Court, is the subject of some serious Internet buzz this week after the cast of "The West Wing" reunited to make a video supporting her campaign.
McCormick, who is running in the Nov. 6 election, now boasts she's the only candidate endorsed by U.S. President Jed Bartlet, the fictional character played by Martin Sheen on the TV show. The popular show ran from 1999-2006 on NBC.
The four-minute video comes off as a mini-episode of West Wing, centering around the plot line that there's a crisis in Michigan — too many people are voting straight-party, meaning they fill in either the "Democrat" or "Republican" bubble and then forget to vote in the nonpartisan races.
"We're not talking dog catcher here — state Supreme Court," actor Bradley Whitford, who plays the White House deputy chief, says in the video. He goes on to point out Michigan is one of 15 states that uses nonpartisan elections to choose their Supreme Court justices.
The video, which has more than 41,000 views and counting since being posted to YouTube on Wednesday, is sprinkled with humor throughout.
McCormack's younger sister, Mary, appeared in 48 episodes of West Wing between 2004 and 2006, playing the role of deputy national security adviser Kate Harper. She appears as her character in the video and, for a laugh, acts as clueless as the rest of the cast when they mention her real name.
When the crisis is taken to the president's desk, Sheen takes the situation seriously. He turns to an aide, played by famous actress and Detroit native Lily Tomlin, who advises him the situation has been upgraded from "crisis" to "a calamity, a catastrophe."
Actually, it's an apocalypse now, his staff advises him.
Sheen concludes: If people fail to realize a straight-ticket vote doesn't count in nonpartisan races, if they just casually vote the party line, then their interests can go unrepresented.
McCormack's ability to leverage the Emmy-winning cast is being talked about on social media, blogs and news sites across the country, including The Washington Post and CNN.
Her sister told The Washington Post she had a lightbulb moment when they were talking about how voters often skip the nonpartisan section of the ballot. She called up Whitford and Allison Janney, her friends from the show, asked them to do a video, and it spiraled from there.
McCormack went to Los Angeles in early August to meet with the actors. According to The Washington Post, the video was shot in just one day at a cost of a little under $5,000.
The story points out McCormack's husband, fellow Michigan law professor Steven Croley, actually works in the real-life West Wing as a deputy White House counsel.
Though Supreme Court races in Michigan are supposed to be nonpartisan, the candidates actually run with political party backing, which leaves it up to voters to do their homework before election day to find out which ones are Democrats and which ones are Republicans.
At its state convention in Lansing earlier this month, the Michigan Democratic Party nominated McCormack and two other Democrats — Judge Connie Marie Kelley and Judge Shelia Johnson — to run with the party's blessing for the state's high court this year.
Johnson will face off against the Republicans' candidate, incumbent Justice Brian Zahra, to fill a two-year term. Kelley and McCormack will run against incumbent Justice Stephen Markman and Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O'Brien for eight-year terms.
The Republicans currently hold a 4-3 advantage on the court and Democrats are fighting to gain control in November — along with the state House, which the GOP also controls as of last year.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.
Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.
West Wing is my favorite television show of all time.
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.
Thank you for proving that the straight party ticket bubbles on the ballot have to be removed. People should vote for people, not parties. When we remove the bubbles candidates will have to stand on their own two feet.
Billy Bob Schwartz
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.
Other solution: stop pretending the the Michigan Supreme Court members are not political animals, just like everyone else, and list them under the party that nominated them. This is a fraud, and always has been. Maybe it's time to find a way to choose judges in this state by another method. And yes, there are several better ways that have been proposed and ignored. The ad is wonderful. It was fun to get back to that West Wing again. Regardless of your politics, I think most people considered it great drama...and they even cut the Republicans a break now and then.
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.
Except when all the candidates are forced to "toe one line" such as 95% of one party's candidates signing Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", promising to never raise taxes. Or to trash the "Affordable Care Act" derisively referred to as "Obamacare." Or end Medicare and Social Security as many of our older citizens know it today. Or gut regulations and end the EPA and Department of Education. Yes, DonBee, it would be nice if candidates were allowed to stand on their own two feet and be sensible.
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.
Great story - she was on MSNBC last night - both the video and a live interview. Gald to see AA.com picked this up. My favorite? The "daisy" commercial against Goldwater in 1964 (yeah, I'm showing my age, but it's a classic).
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.
Thanks for the feedback, and for sharing your favorite ad. "Daisy" continues live on YouTube. Pretty intense stuff. Just watched it here: http://youtu.be/dDTBnsqxZ3k
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.
What are your other favorite campaign ads of all time? Here are a couple of mine: http://youtu.be/jU7fhIO7DG0 http://youtu.be/byn8ZD6kckg
Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.
For presidential campaign ads from 1952-2008, check out http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.
And an Ann Arbor Public Schools parent! I am voting yes!
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.
Pure Brilliance. Pure Michigan. Good luck, Bridget McCormack. Thanks for educating me a bit today.
West Side Mom
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.
Best political ad ever. It's postive and serves a public purpose. Such a refreshing change in a world permeated with negative political advertising. Just goes to show what kind of person Bridget McCormack is. Bridget McCormack is smart, articulate and committed to giving every citizen a fair hearing before the state's highest court. She is an exceptionally well-qualified candidate for supreme court justice and deserves our support.
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.
Very clever and well done. Besides being entertaining (as I found the original series), the video provides two public services. First, it raises attention to the non-partisan section of the ballot. Secondly, it highlights the outstanding qualifications of a candidate for the Michigan state Supreme Court. Thanks, Ryan!
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.
The ad ranks among the greatest political campaign ads ever. Kudos to Ms. McCormack for being creative, generating buzz, and maybe educating some voters, all in one fell swoop!