GRAND RAPIDS — No longer a rookie to political elections, well-known trial attorney Geoffrey Fieger said he is better prepared for his bid for the Democratic candidacy for the state attorney general than he was for governor in 1998.
Fieger answered questions about his possible candidacy during his keynote speech at the annual meeting of the Federal Bar Association Western Michigan Chapter on Oct. 20.
Fieger joked that the meeting would not be the place to seek votes, given the area’s Republican voting record.
“It would be news if I announced I was seeking the Republican nomination,” he said. “That would get you all excited.”
Fieger talked about his experience running for governor in 1998 against former Gov. John Engler, whom Fieger said “defined” him before he had a chance to campaign. This time the situation is a little different, he said. He is paying more attention to the polls and to the numbers in the early stages of the campaign.
“I don’t sound as radical to the people as they were told,” he said.
Fieger said Gov. Jennifer Granholm is facing a difficult election against Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos in 2006, especially considering the issue of funding.
“Because she’s in such a tight election campaign, her concern is going to be about raising enough funds, because Mr. DeVos is not going to be constrained by any way, shape or form,” he said.
The candidate for attorney general will not only have to be electable, but have access to money, Fieger said.
“With that much (money) going toward the governor race, there’s not going to be that much going toward the lesser candidates,” he said.
Fieger said he is optimistic about the candidacy.
“The name Fieger seems to ring well with the word ‘attorney,’” he said. “I don’t know why, but we’ll see what happens.”
Fieger encouraged the audience members to consider their roles in the nation as attorneys.
“If society suddenly lost all the engineers or doctors, contrary to popular belief it would continue to function, literally. However, without attorneys or judges, society would completely degenerate into anarchy and violence. We are the grease upon which the wheels of society turn,” he said. “We do not practice a profession as much as we are fulfilling an essential role as patriots.”
He also voiced concern over the attempt to limit attorney comments on the judicial system, court cases, judges and other attorneys. Fieger said one of the fundamental duties of an attorney is to speak out and inform citizens, which he said will strengthen the system, not weaken it.
“The judicial system is far more resilient, far stronger than we realize. We ought to remain confident in it and trust it,” he said. “I believe that the judicial system can only be strengthened by the free exercise of constitutional rights, and not by stifling criticism or critical speech.”