July 23, 2014 at 1:00 am

Democrat Schauer admits voting in '12 GOP presidential primary

Lansing— Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer admitted Wednesday he voted Republican in Michigan’s 2012 presidential primary, but declined to say whom he voted for.

Democratic President Barack Obama was unopposed in the Feb. 28, 2012, presidential primary.

But Republicans had a closely fought primary between former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Michigan native Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Nine other Republicans were on the crowded primary ballot that year.

“My vote is private, just like everybody else,” Schauer told reporters after an event on women’s issues in Lansing. “That’s a private matter. I mean, there was no competition, there was nothing to vote for on the Democratic side of the ballot. I try not to miss any elections.”

Romney narrowly won Schauer’s home county of Calhoun County in the 2012 presidential primary, garnering 4,801 votes to Santorum’s 4,614. Democratic Party leaders at the time discouraged Democrats from crossing-over to vote for Santorum and deliver Romney a loss in the state where his father was governor.

The Michigan Republican Party is criticizing Schauer’s cross-over vote because earlier this year he discouraged a group of Democratic supporters from participating in the 11th Congressional District Republican primary.

“Mark Schauer intentionally worked to undermine the voting process, and then tried to gloss over that fact,” Darren Littell, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, said Wednesday. “This is the latest example from a career politician speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Democrat leaders decried cross ballot voting, yet Mark Schauer did it anyway.”

In July 2010, Snyder’s campaign directly appealed to Democrats and independent voters to get them to cross party lines and vote for him in a five-man Republican primary the following month.

Schauer, a former state legislator and one-term member of Congress from Battle Creek, was not holding public office in 2012 when he voted in the GOP presidential primary.

Michigan Republicans on Wednesday released a video recording of Schauer’s remarks secretly captured by a GOP tracker wearing so-called spyglasses containing a hidden camera in the frame.

In the undated video, Schauer can be heard telling Democrats that crossing over to vote in the 11th District GOP primary would hinder the campaigns of Democratic candidates for the state Senate.

“If you’re a Democrat, my feeling is you should get behind people who are in your primary and support them,” Schauer told supporters. “It’s always hard, you know, to figure out the right angle and when you get messing around on the ballot. And to mess around, especially when there are things at stake on our side of the ballot, I don’t recommend it.”

Schauer has lambasted Republicans for spying on his campaign, saying it’s reflective of the ground he’s gaining in some public opinion polls against Gov. Rick Snyder.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Democratic Party released more video footage a Republican tracker misplaced showing the GOP has been filming Democrats with camera glasses for months.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Schauer indicated cross-over voting would aid his campaign to unseat Snyder.

“I don’t encourage that, but I think that’s up to every individual voter to decide,” Schauer said. “Michigan is full of cross-over and independent voters. I think we’re going to find that out.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

Schauer / Clarence Tabb Jr / The Detroit News