Don’t Cry for Barbara McQuade
April 7, 2017
Don’t cry for me, Argentina” goes the song from Evita. Former Federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade seems to have a lot of folks crying for her recently. An example from MLIVE: “Less than a week after President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade to resign, the Detroit-based attorney has joined the faculty at the University of Michigan.”
MLive is an E version of the Detroit Free Press circa 1995, minus Bob Talbert. Barbara McQuade is an Obama presidential appointee, and all presidential appointment terms end when the administration changes. This is just routine. But joining U of M’s faculty? That’s very interesting, and we’ll get to it later.
Now McQuade is no ordinary Federal DA. She is a star, who broke up the corrupt Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick ring, and put the Hip Hop Mayor himself away. In political appointment land, you come, you serve, you move on. But what if you’ve made a name for yourself cleaning up your town? Well, that’s where things get interesting, and why you shouldn’t cry for Barbara McQuade.
First off, she can walk right into a very lucrative law practice. Successful service as a Federal DA is a ticket to the big bucks, big firm elite. She can take her pick of jobs and make a lot of money, which no one would begrudge her. But there’s another career path available.
The Woman Who Cleaned Up Detroit is in a club. Some of the other members? Well, there’s Rudy Guiliani, who as United States Attorney for some no-name town out east, cleaned up South Street Seaport, sent Wall Street sharpies to jail, smacked the Mafia, and ended up Mayor of the Big Apple. Federal Prosecutor Chris Christie became Governor of New Jersey. Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York.
The Frank Murphy Hall of Justice building is one of Detroit’s biggest structures. It’s fair to say McQuade and her staff have spent some time there. Have they ever looked at the picture on the wall? William Francis Murphy was Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, US Attorney General, and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. But before all that, he was a star Federal prosecutor: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. That’s the same job title as Barbara McQuade.
So let’s go back to U of M. McQuade will join the law school faculty on May 1st. What does this tell us? Foremost, it means she’s not going anywhere. She could get a job anyplace in America, but she’s staying put in Michigan. Teaching law can definitely be a full time gig, but it can also combine with other stuff. Law firm? Sure! What else? Are there any other opportunities around? Let’s see…
Bill Schuette is running for Michigan governor in next year’s election. He’s also term limited, which means the Michigan Attorney General’s office is wide open. There is no clear successor. There are also no clear and obvious favorites from either party. Which means a Barbara McQuade candidacy for Attorney General would be extremely strong. The Woman Who Cleaned Up Detroit would be a tough proposition to beat. And then down the road—Governor McQuade?
Or why wait? For 2018, Democrat governor front runner Gretchen Whitmer has all the warm charm of a perpetually snarling coyote. And let’s face it, she’s just another pol from the legislature. On Duty Schuette’s got the edge with her. But Mr. Law and Order meets the Woman Who Cleaned Up Detroit? Michigan Republicans may dearly wish the Donald had kept her on. Don’t cry for Barbara McQuade indeed!
teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.