Mich. GOP convention: Leonard, Treder Lang get nod
Lansing — Even as the Michigan Republican Party finalized its ticket at its nominating convention in Lansing Saturday, cracks were apparent in the attempt at a unified front.
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement was greeted with “boos” and nearly as many “nays” as “yays” when officials called for her nomination, proof of the lingering anger some of her recent decisions have elicited from Republicans.
Both Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Gov. Rick Snyder, via a video message, urged voters to unite behind Republican candidates to continue Michigan’s comeback, but neither mentioned governor hopeful Bill Schuette by name.
Though there were some signs of tension among Republicans Saturday, the party is unified behind its accomplishments in recent years, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said.
"They're unified because they're very pleased with where things are right now," Weiser told reporters. "This state has turned around from where it was in the last decade under the Granholm years."
As the state GOP's 2,112 delegates selected their picks for attorney general, secretary of state and education seats, the Michigan Democratic Party began its own convention Saturday. Democratic nominations were largely resolved in a March endorsement convention where members selected attorney general, secretary of state and Supreme Court.
After hard fought races, Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard won the party nomination for attorney general and Grosse Pointe Farms accountant Mary Treder Lang took the nominations for secretary of state.
Sporting a beard and ready with a self-deprecating joke, former governor hopeful Calley spoke of the need for unity to continue the state’s comeback and encouraged voters disappointed in the primary results to “suck it up” and vote Republican in the November election.
“I want you to do exactly what I’m doing and that is supporting the top of our ticket all the way to the bottom of the ticket,” Calley said.
Schuette told reporters later in the day that he wasn’t worried by the lack of a formal endorsement from Calley and Snyder and wasn’t obsessed with the “magic words.”
Schuette acknowledged and thanked both Calley and Snyder in his speech Saturday before reiterating comparisons between former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and his Democratic opponent Gretchen Whitmer and touting his paycheck and jobs agenda.
He and other Republican candidates embarked on "Results not Resistance" four-day bus tour following the convention, an attempt to garner support against what Schuette called "the most extreme ticket that's been assembled in Michigan in my memory.'
“We’re going to win it all in 2018,” Schuette told reporters. “The margin will be tight, but you know what 51-49, 52-48 is fine with me.”
Appointed last fall to the state Supreme Court by Snyder, Clement faced some pushback from Republicans because of her support of a 4-3 ruling that would allow an independent redistricting commission proposal to make it to the November ballot.
While introducing Clement Saturday, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz had to ask to the booing crowd to allow him continue. Officials declared a “yay” and “nay” vote in favor of Clement's nomination, thought delegates shouting nay were nearly as loud as those in support.
"There's some people who didn't like one or two of her decisions, there's always people like that in any group," Weiser told reporters after the convention.
Leonard bested state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker for the GOP attorney general nomination after a primary campaign that included a 14-page mailer from Schuitmaker that bashed Leonard in about seven of the pages.
He will head into the campaign season with roughly $910,000 on hand after raising nearly $1.2 million in the campaign season to face presumptive Democratic nominee Dana Nessel. Nessel, of Plymouth Township, is a favorite of the progressive left best known for representing a same-sex couple who successfully challenged Michigan’s gay marriage ban.
Certainly the party had "spirited primaries" Leonard said, but he was confident of the party's unity going forward. Like Schuette, Leonard emphasized the Democratic party's nod to the far left in its nominees for the November election.
Nessel is "extreme fringe," he said, emphasizing that he would instead focus on real issues such as violent crimes, elder abuse and mental health reform.
"This is somebody who has openly said that she is going to determine which laws will and will not be upheld," Leonard told reporters. "That is not the role of the state's attorney general. The role of the state's attorney general is to be the state's attorney and deliver real results."
Treder Lang gained more delegate support than her opponent Michigan State University professor Joseph Guzman in her bid to replace term-limited GOP Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
Just before the primary, Treder Lang reported having about $30,000 on hand, an amount dwarfed by the presumptive Democratic nominee Jocelyn Benson.
Benson, a former Wayne State University law school dean, has roughly $836,000 on hand after raising about $1 million this election cycle.
Treder Lang said she was not threatened "in any way shape or form" by Benson's fundraising capabilities.
"I really have that modern day set of skills to drive us forward and it's a time right now that we need that," Treder Lang told reporters.
GOP delegates Saturday also nominated Tami Carlone and Richard Zeile for the state board of education.