'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.
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.