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Dems gather for annual fundraising dinner

DETROIT, April 25, 2009 (AP): As Michigan Democrats gathered Saturday evening for their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinner, some electioneering was going on.

John Freeman, who's thinking of running for governor in 2010, handed out fliers urging Democrats to go to his new Web site, www.johnfreeman.org, and post their ideas for improving Michigan. The former state legislator from Madison Heights is the state director of Health Care for America Now, a national coalition that supports national health care reform.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry and the staff helping with his gubernatorial campaign were collecting video endorsements from supporters before the Cobo Center dinner and handing out cookies from Cherry Republic in Traverse City. Cherry and other state party leaders, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, were to speak at the party's major fundraising event.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was the keynote speaker. He spoke about the life sciences initiative in his state and other political and governmental topics.

The Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner has hosted a fair share of potential presidential candidates, including former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who spoke in 2003 and 2007, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who spoke in 2003.

But Patrick, who has close ties to President Barack Obama, says he's committed to seeking re-election as governor next year.

State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith of Washtenaw County's Salem Township is challenging Cherry for the Democratic nomination. Several other Democrats, including Freeman, also are taking a look at the race.

Democrat Granholm has been governor since 2003, but can't run again in 2010 because of term limits.






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