Snyder set to skip GOP convention; Calley to speak

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News
Gov. Rick Snyder

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder will miss Saturday's Michigan Republican Party convention, the last of its kind during his tenure, due to a scheduling conflict, his office confirmed late Wednesday. 

The term-limited governor has not endorsed GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Schuette, the sitting attorney general who is expected to celebrate his primary win at the convention. Snyder has given no indication he will give an endorsement before the November general election.

Snyder "has a scheduling conflict" that will prevent him from attending the Lansing convention "and instead will be sending a welcome message video as he has previously," said spokesman Ari Adler. 

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who finished second to Schuette in the combative GOP primary, said earlier Wednesday he will attend and speak at the convention. It's possible he could publicly endorse Schuette, which he had offered to do earlier this month at a "unity" rally with Vice President Mike Pence.

“I don’t plan on giving the contents of my speech ahead of time other than to say that party unity is very important,” Calley told The Detroit News.

The Michigan Republican Party Convention is set to convene Saturday morning at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. 

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, former head of the Michigan Republican Party, is expected to deliver a keynote address. 

Schuette, his running mate Lisa Posthumus Lyons, U.S. Senate nominee John James and current Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser are also expected to speak. 

The Michigan Democratic Party is holding its own nominating convention Saturday and Sunday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. Democratic primary winner Gretchen Whitmer, Libertarian Bill Gilineau and other third-party candidates will compete against Schuette in the general election. 

Schuette has said he is optimistic that Snyder will eventually endorse him, but the two have feuded on a number of fronts, including the attorney general's investigation of the Flint water crisis and prosecutions of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells. 

"I'm sticking to more governing and less politics at this point in time," Snyder said earlier this month when asked if he was going to endorse Schuette. "I've got some serious projects to do."

The governor has never been big on political party conventions and has missed some in the past. He did not endorse in the 2016 presidential election but had endorsed Calley as his chosen successor. 

Bill Ballenger, a former Republican state lawmaker and publisher of The Ballenger Report, said it is unlikely Snyder will endorse Schuette this fall.

Schuette’s decision to pick Posthumus Lyons as his running mate “helps the situation,” Ballenger said, noting she is the daughter of Snyder’s chief of staff Dick Posthumus.

“But that won't be enough to undo the damage Schuette has done with Snyder," he said. "The decision to bound Nick Lyon over this week – that doesn’t help. There’s a lot of anger and bitterness about that whole scenario.”

It makes sense for Calley to rally around the Republican ticket if he hopes to run for political office again in the future, Ballenger added.

“From everything we’ve seen, he’s been a really good loser,” Ballenger said. “He’s done all the right things, said all the right things despite the bitterness of the campaign and the charges he made against Schuette.”