As a former political consultant based around Detroit, and lifelong Detroit area resident, I am often asked about the politics of the city, and the region. One question that I often get is, “When will Detroit elect a Republican as mayor?” I always answer that certain changes would have to happen first in the city of Detroit for a Republican mayor of Detroit to ever become possible.
Perception of Democrats would have to change
One of the reasons why the Democrats have held the Office of Mayor of Detroit since 1962 is due to the fact that the Democratic Party pushes the interpretation that the Democrats are for the working people. With the fact that Detroit is mostly made up of auto workers, or workers that have jobs due to the presence of the auto industry, this interpretation has been taken to heart for almost fifty years. Some kind of wild perception change about Democrats would have to happen in order to have a Republican mayor of Detroit.
More renovation areas
One of the grand plans of Mayor Coleman Young was to buy up destitute parts of the city, demolish them, and build higher-priced homes in order to bring in a higher tax bracket into Detroit. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was able to do this when he had the city buy up homes in the New Center Area, and along Jefferson, renovate, and sell them at higher prices. A large number of these areas would have to be created to draw Republicans from the northwest suburbs if there is ever going to be a chance of a Republic mayor of Detroit.
Collapse of the auto industry under Democrat rule
If the entire American auto industry were to collapse (which nearly happened in recent history) under the watch of a series of Democrats (mayor, governor, president) there is a chance that tunes could change and cause for a Republican mayor of Detroit. If the loss of the industry could be linked to a lack of effort by Democrats, it could be their swan song in Detroit.
Shift of local news to Republican
Out of all four of the possible causes, this one appears to be the most likely. Out of the four channels that cover news in Detroit, only one could be considered to have Republican overtones (Fox News Detroit). If WXYZ Detroit (the most watched news in Detroit) were to have a policy shift as to showing more of a Republican side of news, the city of Detroit could be convinced to side more to the right, and vote in a Republican mayor of Detroit.
In my opinion, I doubt that any of these four examples will come to pass anytime soon. The current mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, is interested in more renovation areas, but is more interested into making them into farm land. While Michigan farmers are traditionally more conservative, there would not be enough farmers in Detroit to cause a significant change. WXYZ Detroit shows no signs of a Republican shift, the auto industry is growing stronger, and the perception of Democrats has stayed the same. I doubt that there will be a Republican mayor of Detroit anytime soon.