Flint sidelines Snyder’s presidential endorsement

Detroit News staff

With the Flint water crisis consuming Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration on a daily basis, endorsing a Republican candidate for president is, well, not on his agenda.

“I haven’t even been thinking about that,” Snyder told The Detroit News Editorial Board on Monday.

The Republican governor, who just a year ago was flirting with a presidential run himself, was being courted for an endorsement last summer from several candidates he has not publicly named.

But since Snyder and his administration admitted fault in Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis, the endorsement chatter has halted.

Snyder has made comments that suggest he does not favor GOP frontrunner Donald Trump because of the bombastic billionaire’s repeated call to block Muslims from immigrating to America.

“Donald Trump’s comments about banning all Muslims is absolutely inappropriate, and it doesn’t reflect the spirit of America, in my view,” Snyder told The News in December. “I’m concerned about the political culture of our country. And we’re a great country, but you don’t continue that path if you spend all of your time fighting and blaming one another and being negative.”

Agema won’t seek new term

Come April, Michigan Republican Party insiders won’t have Dave Agema to kick around anymore.

Well, at least not for being in an official party capacity.

Agema announced Saturday he will not seek re-election to be Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman after a four-year tenure that’s been marked by controversy.

The Grandville Republican, in an email to supporters, described most RNC meetings he attended as “a waste of time and money” but said he will finish his term and could seek other political roles, either within the party or as an elected official.

“I feel led to help get fiscal, moral and constitutional officials elected that I know will represent those attributes and principles I have tried to uphold,” Agema wrote. “However the position of RNC Committeeman does not allow the flexibility to do so.”

Agema came under fire in recent years for a series of social media posts and comments related to gays, Muslims and African-Americans. The controversy began early 2013 when he shared on Facebook and article purporting to describe health risks associated with the “filthy” homosexual lifestyle.

In January 2014, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and then-Michigan GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak both called for his resignation, along with other state officials. A year later, the RNC’s executive committee formally censured Agema.

“I refused to resign after over a year of unfounded attacks and failed censure attempts,” Agema told supporters Saturday. “I have never quit anything I have started, and certainly wasn't about to cave to political correctness and falsehoods.”

Agema, a retired Air Force pilot, served three terms in the state House before party members elected him to the RNC in 2012. The Michigan Republican Party will elect RNC committee members at its April 8-9 state convention in Lansing, spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said.

Ann Arbor-area cardiologist Rob Steele is currently the only declared candidate for Agema’s seat. Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden is seeking re-election.

Carson recalls Detroit youth

In a taped interview with Politico, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson this week said his time growing up as a poor black youth in Detroit in the 1960s represents a true experience of being African-American and one that President Barack Obama couldn’t understand.

Carson said, like most Americans, he was proud to see the color barrier broken when Obama was elected, but that their experiences are “night-and-day different.”

“He didn’t grow up like I grew up by any stretch of the imagination. ... Not even close,” Carson told the podcast Off Message with Glenn Thrush.

“He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white. Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”

Amash endorses Cruz

Since his libertarian ally Rand Paul is out of the race for the White House, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is now throwing his support behind U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican presidential nomination.

Amash, a Kent County Republican, announced his endorsement Tuesday of Cruz in the remaining five-man GOP presidential field in a guest commentary in the online publication Independent Journal Review.

Amash was an ardent support of Paul, a Kentucky U.S. senator who dropped out of the race after a fifth-place finish in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.

In the endorsement commentary, Amash noted he has his differences with Cruz.

“On civil liberties and foreign policy, Ted and I don’t always agree,” Amash wrote. “But he was one of only 10 Republican senators to stand up for our rights by supporting Rand Paul’s amendment to kill the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 — also known as CISA — a cyberspying bill that violates the privacy of all Americans.”

Amash’s support for Cruz makes him the first member of Michigan’s congressional delegation to endorse the conservative senator from Texas.

Invites for GOP candidates

Republican voters in suburban Detroit may have two chances to hear GOP presidential candidates speak at dinners being held in the final two days before the March 8 primary.

On the night of March 6, the Wayne County 11th Congressional District Republican Committee is planning a “Meet the Candidates Dinner” at the Laurel Manor banquet hall in Livonia.

No candidates have confirmed they will attend yet. To purchase a $75 dinner ticket, visit the committee’s website at Wayne11th.com.

The following night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be the keynote speaker at the Oakland County Republican Party’s 127th annual Lincoln Day dinner at the Troy Marriott hotel. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased on the county party’s website.

Other Republican presidential candidates have been invited to speak on the eve of the primary, but Kasich will have the main speaking slot, Oakland County GOP chairwoman Theresa Mungioli said.

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Jonathan Oosting, Melissa Nann Burke