Lansing — Ohio Gov. John Kasich used his presidential election fundraising network this week to ask supporters to donate to Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s possible 2018 campaign for governor.
“Brian is strongly considering a run for governor to succeed Governor Rick Snyder, who is term-limited,” Kasich wrote Wednesday in a fundraising email. “Will you consider making a generous contribution to help put Brian in the best position to run?”
Calley, a Portland Republican, endorsed Kasich during the presidential primaries and, like the Ohio governor, ended up bucking Republican Donald Trump during the general election.
“I’m proud to call Brian a friend and know that he’d make a great governor for the great state of Michigan,” said Kasich, who only won Ohio in his failed bid for the GOP nomination for president.
After the primaries, Kasich became one of the de facto leaders of the so-called “Never Trump” movement within the Republican Party, refusing to endorse Trump for president and skipping the GOP’s July national convention in his own state.
Calley initially endorsed Trump after the New York businessman wrapped the GOP nomination in May.
But Calley renounced his support for Trump in early October after a decade-old video surfaced of Trump making sexually charged comments about women. He said at the time he would write in Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, but Pence was never a registered write-in candidate in Michigan.
After the election, Calley told the Lansing publication MIRSnews.com that he ended up voting for Trump at the urging of his wife, Julie Calley, who was elected last month to state House of Representatives.
The lieutenant governor was coy about the Kasich email when a Detroit News reporter asked him about it Wednesday afternoon at the state Capitol.
“That got around fast,” Calley said about the email.
Calley had $557,417 in cash on hand in his campaign account in late October for a possible gubernatorial run in 2018, according to a quarterly report.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, a likely Calley rival for governor in 2018, also has been raising money over the past two years. Schuette had $706,286 in his campaign war chest at the end of October.
Both men have repeatedly said they won’t make decisions about the 2018 election until the 2017 calendar year. Calley reiterated that stance on Wednesday.
Schuette said Thursday he was so “amused” by the Kasich email that he called the Ohio governor, with whom he served in Congress in the late 1980s.
“I saw it and I gave John Kasich a call, wished him Merry Christmas,” Schuette told The Detroit News. “It was just a short conversation. I was just having fun. I didn’t give him a hard time. I just said ‘Merry Christmas’ because I thought the whole thing was funny.”