After two courts sided with Barrow, Duggan embarked on a write-in campaign that was challenged by activist Robert Davis. Davis, who is currently under federal indictment for creating a fake charity and defrauding the nearby Highland Park school system, claimed that Duggan was ineligible but his challenge was denied.
Another attempt to sink Duggan came the day before the write-in deadline when 31-year-old Detroit barber Mike Dugeon – who had never voted in an city election – suddenly entered the race and led a campaign that was seen as an attempt to confuse voters who were planning on writing in Duggan’s name. The following day, a YouTube video surfaced showing Barrow getting a haircut at Dugeon’s barbershop in northwest Detroit.
Duggan’s primary victory has been attributed as much to his ground game as it has to the perceived underdog status he gained going up against the multiple challenges by Barrow and Napoleon.
“My opponent [Barrow] went out and aired negative ads,” Duggan said on Tuesday. “Then, out of the city’s 500,000 registered voters, they found Mike Dugeon.”
With the city under emergency management and facing bankruptcy, voter turnout – which is often strikingly low – was further tempered. Early projections had turnout as low as 8 percent, but as of Wednesday, it was estimated to be closer to 15 to 17 percent.
A potential snag arose when text messages and e-mails surfaced showing that Gov. Rick Snyder had consulted Duggan about the appointment of emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Orr’s appointment is slated to end during the fall of 2014, at which time the city could be returned to local control.
“This isn’t about Duggan in the backroom with the governor,” Mobley, who helped organize support for Duggan in her neighborhood, said. “I’d rather have a mayor that has a relationship that can benefit the city versus one that has to take it how it’s dished out because your input is not respected or even asked for.”
With the general election set to ratchet up in the fall, Duggan, who raised $1.2 million for his primary campaign, faces Napoleon with an uphill battle to convince voters that he is the right man for the job once emergency management inevitably ends. If Duggan wins, history will be made in Detroit, whether certain factions in the city like it or not.
“The narrative from us is going to have to remain focused and at the end of the day this city can be and is an asset,” Mobley said. “And of course [the anti-Duggan faction] wants the city back. But at the same time, people are yelling what have you been doing to make it better? We need age and socioeconomic diversification here. Period.”
Jay Scott Smith is a contributor to TheGrio. You can follow him on Twitter @JayScottSmith.