The Foods That Fuel Detroit’s Political Reporters

Here’s what three local writers and anchors are planning to eat on Nov. 3
election night food - political reporters
Pizza will be a go-to on election night. // Photo: IStock

For political reporters, the presidential election is always a big event. They put in late hours covering projections as votes are tallied, stop by watch parties, and crank out stories for the morning after. At least that’s what happens on a typical election night. This election night promises to be anything but typical.

An intensely partisan presidential election taking place during a deadly global pandemic — with millions of voters casting their ballots by mail — will make for a wild ride that could very well stretch on for days or even weeks. And, due to social distancing mandates, the usually collaborative occasion could instead find many reporters covering the action from their own homes.

As they scramble to develop new processes for an age-old tradition, metro Detroit’s reporters can take comfort in at least one constant: the dishes that will be at the ready to fuel them through this historic event. Here, three local anchors and writers share their go-to dishes for the impending election season.

Brian Abel

Anchor/Reporter, WXYZ Detroit
Hour Detroit: What will your role look like during this election season?

Brian Abel: Things have changed a lot — I never thought in a million years that I would be interviewing a sitting vice president from the lofts of my home — so we don’t really know what things will look like in November. Typically, there’d be watch parties for the candidates, so you’d be at one of those on election night, but those aren’t really happening. We’re having to adjust and figure out how to cover this unprecedented historic election in an unprecedented way.

What will be on your plate this election season?   

The station typically orders pizza for everybody, but because of the pandemic, we’re doing so much remote that hardly anyone is at the station. So, because of that, we’ll probably be on our own. If it looks anything like what I ate during the primary, I imagine it’ll be too much junk food, not enough water, and I’ll eat what I can if I can — all of which will upset my wife, Daniela, who is a chef and culinary instructor at Zaman International.

Will your wife make you something special once the votes are in on election night?

She’ll most likely have some sort of pasta waiting for me —  along with a beer.

Beer of choice?

Anything craft and not IPA. I am not an IPA guy, but other than that, anything goes, really.

Jackie Paige

P.M. Drive Anchor, Newsradio 950 WWJ
What have past election nights looked like for you?

Jackie Paige: In 2016, we had a lot of friends over to watch the voting come in, and I made a Crock-Pot of chili and chocolate chip cookies, and that’s probably what I’m going to do this year, too. Everybody loves chili. You’ve got all the toppings and it stays hot all night. People were going back to get chili at 1 o’clock and grabbing cookies before they left to go home.

How might this year be different?

Because of mail-in voting, it’s going to take a while to count those votes — it could be two weeks — and it could be very stressful, but I just think that it’s important for us to come together. And there is no better way to come together than by breaking bread with one another. That’s where the most important conversations take place. That’s when people can always find common ground.

How are you coping with that sense of community being limited by COVID-19?

In the newsroom, I’m one of those people who frequently brings in food and baked goods, and people love that. I guess it’s an offering of goodwill. That’s one of the things that I’ve missed most throughout this pandemic is not being able to come together and have conversations.

Beth LeBlanc

Politics and State Government Reporter, The Detroit News

This will be your first year covering a presidential election. What are you most looking forward to?

Elizabeth LeBlanc: Being out on the trail with the candidates. It’s interesting to see to what extent they’re interacting with voters and to see the different people who are supporting them. I think a lot of times we want to put voters in boxes, but really, a lot of people are pretty nuanced as to why they’re supporting one candidate or another.

What will you be munching on while you’re out and about on the trail?

I’m probably the least sophisticated eater you’ve ever met. It’s a lot of trail mix and granola bars, Combos pretzels, apples. If we’re running from place to place, for me, it’s just a lot of snack foods that I can keep by me throughout the night.

We hear there’s an age-old tradition that reporters eat pizza in the newsroom on election night. Is that what will be on the menu at The Detroit News?

It is a tradition. During the August primary, my co-worker Craig Mauger and I ordered a small pizza at around 10 p.m. It was the first free moment we had. I’m not sure if we’ll be reporting out of our Lansing bureau or Detroit for the presidential election. If we’re in Detroit, yes, there will be a bunch of boxes of pizza.