TIM SKUBICK: The contrast couldn’t be more striking

The contrast could not have been more striking.

Whenever former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a.k.a. 44678-039, showed up in town, there was the black Cadillac Escalade with his honor riding shot-gun surrounded by a swarm of body guards that would have made any president of the United States jealous.

They simply called it the Kwame posse complete with diamond stick-pin in his earlobe.

Enter, unannounced, for his first foray to the state capitol, one Mike Duggan, Detroit mayor-elect sans body guards, media secretaries and other assorted hangers-on and certainly no diamond in his ear!

It was low-keyed all the way. He and a pal drove up together to Lansing in his red Ford Taurus and got caught in a traffic jam outside the beltway.

The rest of the day went swimmingly well.

Mr. Duggan obviously knows his way around and was here to begin the task of molding a working relationship with the power brokers. He was no stranger to many including 10 of the 15 Detroit lawmakers he met with first.

It was closed doors, lasted about half an hour, and he opened by acknowledging that many in the room voted for his opponent but afterward he boasts, “We’re all on the same team now. ...You’re going to see a much more united effort between the mayor and the delegation and the mayor and city council.”

Anything would be an improvement, insiders claim.

Everybody says they will work together at the opening bell, but will this mayor be different?

Based on day one, it looks like he has a shot at it.

Mr. Duggan was shaking hands with everyone including a lawmaker he ran into coming out of the House Office Building.

“Congratulations Mr. Mayor,” smiled Rep. Paul Clemente (D-Lincoln Park). Out goes the hand and the exchange of smiles, and as Mr. Duggan walks away out of ear shot he asked one of his city lobbyists, “Who was that?”

Smart move. Another more arrogant politican would have kept on walking with total disregard for the person he just met. Duggan knows better.

Onto the GOP speaker and the House Democratic Leader where he gets a pledge of cooperation from Rep. Tim Greimel and, “I got a cup of coffee.”

Were you charged for it?

“Not yet,” the new mayor laughs knowing that there is no such thing as a free cup of anything in this town.

And on it went, one hand shake at a time, one meeting after another including a one-on-one session with the governor’s chief of staff. They picked a popular watering hole downtown for everyone to see. If there was ever any doubt, it sent the clear signal that Mr. Duggan has access and talking to Denny Muchmore is just like talking to the governor himself without any RPA for dessert.

Mr. Duggan described this as a listening tour, so unlike other mayors who only came to town when they wanted something, he had no hand out for a hand out.

He was too savvy for that. First things first.

“I don’t have any plans on that at all right now,” he deflects the “When will you ask for state money?” question.

Mr. Duggan seemed at home, at ease and comfortable in his own skin except for the nosey reporter tagging along asking just one more question, “Are you having fun?”

“Yeah I am. Except when I have reporters talking to me.”

“So what’s wrong with that? You’re not used to it?”

“Exactly.” Welcome to Lansing.