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U.S. Sen. Gary Peters traveled to Liberia this week to serve as an election monitor for that nation’s presidential and legislative elections as part of an international delegation with the nonpartisan National Democratic Institute, which is funded by the United States.

As Africa’s first female president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf steps aside, 20 candidates were vying Tuesday for the presidency, with a runoff likely. It is Liberia’s first election since 1944 that one democratically elected government will transition power to another.

Long lines were reported at polling stations, but voting went smoothly overall, according to news reports. Provisional results are expected Thursday.

“In this election, Liberians have an opportunity for a historic peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected president to another,” Peters said in a statement.

Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also met in Liberia with members of the Michigan National Guard, which has a state partnership program with the Liberian military.

Speaker: Hospitals no-fault foe

Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard is pointing his finger at “hospital CEOs” for driving the criticism of his plan to overhaul the state’s no-fault auto insurance law.

Leonard told a group of Capitol reporters last week that the No. 1 hurdle for his plan to reduce auto insurance rates is getting 15 Democrats to vote for it. And he chalks up the opposition to the ambitions of hospital executives.

“Well, the hospitals have a very strong lobby in town,” Leonard said. “They’ve got a lot of money. They can run a lot of ads. They can certainly confuse this issue and they are making a lot of money on this issue, which is why they want to maintain the status quo, which is our rigged system.”

Leonard and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan are currently pushing a plan they say would drive down auto insurance premiums by 20 to 50 percent for drivers who choose lower coverage plans with a $250,000 or $500,000 cap on lifetime injury coverage.

Michigan is the only state in the nation that guarantees unlimited, lifetime medical coverage for those injured in severe auto accidents.

“At the end of the day, the legislators and the House members that are in this chamber, are going to have to choose between the hard-working citizens of this state that need rate relief, or 15 hospital CEOs,” Leonard said.

McQuade endorses Miles for AG

Former Detroit-based U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade will endorse Democrat Pat Miles in his bid for attorney general on Thursday, according to Miles’ campaign.

McQuade is scheduled to make the official endorsement Thursday afternoon outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office on 211 W. Fort.

Miles was former U.S. Attorney for the state’s western district from 2011-16.

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised Miles’ “tireless devotion to the cause of justice,” according to the same release.

Miles, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, will face Republican Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton and state House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, in his bid to replace Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is running for governor.

‘Brawny’ tweet lands laughs

Former Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, landed a few chuckles when he poked fun at the scene where President Donald Trump tossed paper towels into a crowd during a Hurricane Maria relief event in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, last week.

“Heck of a job, Brawny,” Dingell tweeted over a video clip of the bizarre episode.

The reference, of course, is to President George W. Bush, who infamously praised his FEMA Director Michael Brown during a tour of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke and Michael Gerstein

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