Who Is Betty Jean Alexander, Stealth State Senate Nominee? –  Deadline Detroit


Incomplete primary results. (Detroit News chart)


Wayne County elections never are dull. The latest evidence is a surprise Democratic primary winner who just unseated a first-term state senator from Dearborn Heights.


Betty Jean Alexander, the out-of-nowhere nominee, is described as “a little-known candidate with a questionable past who spent no money on her campaign” in Detroit News coverage by Jonathan Oosting. She “shocked State Sen. David Knezek,” the reporter adds.

Betty Jean Alexander of northwest Detroit. (Facebook photo)


Scant details found by bewildered journalists Wednesday seem like elements of a politics novel, rather than a legislative campaign in an age of social media, illustrated flyers and candidate videos. Oosting writes:  


Alexander did not have campaign signs or a website, and little information is available about her online. She filed a waiver with the state indicating she did not plan to raise or spend more than $1,000 on the campaign.


“She did not spend a dime,” said former Detroit School Board President LaMar Lemmons, who recruited Alexander to run because of his own frustration with Knezek on education policy.


Instead, Alexander campaigned though a “grassroots” telephone network by engaging other African-American women, Lemmons said. . . .


The 53-year-old is a single mother with two children who works in an administrative job, Lemmons said. . . . “She’s reflective of the women of the city of Detroit. She’s a busy working mother trying to take care of her kids.”


Detroit News coverage Wednesday afternoon.


Though she has a personal Facebook page, Alexander lacks many other digital fingerprints, A few tidbits emerge from searches by curious newshounds (including this writer):


  • Alexander joined a jammed Detroit Board of Education race in 2016 — drawing 9,834 votes, just 1.1 percent of the total in a 63-candidate scrum. She “was identified among a host of candidates who had filed for bankruptcy or been sued for unpaid rent or other debts,” The News says.

  • Databases list two Detroit addresses — a current one on the northwest side near Puritan Street and the Southfield Freeway, and a past one on the east side near Van Dyke and Gratiot.


The radar-evading politician blew off a campaign season video interview invitation from Citizen Detroit, a civic engagement group led by former city council member Sheila Cockrel.  


Laura Weber Davis, a producer at public radio station WDET, tweets court records showing a Betty Alexander born the same year as the Detroit candidate pleaded guilty to check fraud in Albuquerque in April 2004.


Davis is among a handful of local journalists propelled into action, mostly online, by this playful challenge:


WDET went beyond letting its fingers do the walking:


One of the broadcasters spots a familiar face, Alexis Wiley, visiting at the same time:


Separately, a former MLive reporter has an obvious question:


How indeed, pray tell?


While seeking answers, wordsmiths deploy hashtags that include #BettyJeanBeat and #WhoIsBettyJean.


And your creatively inclined Deadline Detroit correspondent, perhaps with too much playtime and too little songwriting ability, scribbles “The Ballad of Betty Jean:” 


She was like a secret queen from a campaign scene
She said I am the one who will run without being seen
She told me her name was Betty Jean
As she caused a scene
Then every reporter turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will tell what this means

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