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Michigan’s Kasich, Cruz surrogates trade barbs

The Detroit News

The mutual political wounds inflicted on Michigan supporters of Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are showing no signs of healing quickly since last weekend’s Republican state convention.

The Cruz campaign is still feeling burned after Kasich’s delegates teamed up with GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s delegates and denied them any Michigan seats on the committees that will govern the Republican National Convention in July.

Kasich’s campaign formed the alliance with Trump — unholy as it may seem to establishment Republicans — after suspecting Cruz supporters were trying to swipe a couple of Kasich’s 17 delegates from Michigan.

Jeff Timmer, a Republican consultant for the Kasich campaign, on Tuesday kicked off a brief Twitter war of words with state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, chairman of Cruz’s Michigan campaign.

“Despite his whining @pjcolbeck cut a deal w/Trump forces in MI-11 to save his own skin #hypocrite #nottheboyscouthepretendstobe,” Timmer wrote.

Colbeck, R-Canton, won Cruz’s 11th Congressional District delegate seat at a raucous Friday night caucus.

At one point in the meeting, observers thought Colbeck would be denied the Cruz seat by the conservative forces of Matt Maddock, co-founder of the anti-establishment group Battlecry Michigan.

Timmer contends Colbeck cut a deal with Maddock before decrying the Trump-Kasich deal-making that shut out Cruz’s Michigan delegates from convention committee seats.

Colbeck called Timmer’s charges “garbage.” He called the Trump-Kasich alliance a “marriage” reminiscent of the Sesame Street skit in which children have to figure out which object is not like the other.

“What they’re trying to deflect from is Trump and Kasich are in an obvious alliance — and that’s going to have national implications,” Colbeck said Wednesday.

Timmer said the tussle has taught him something about Colbeck, who has had strained relations with the Senate’s Republican leaders in recent years.

“He’s a lot like Ted Cruz in his relationship with other senators, except the smarts,” Timmer said.

Will Banks lose incumbency label?

Two weeks ago, state Rep. Brian Banks got the Wayne County Election Commission to quickly add “state representative” by his name on the Aug. 2 Democratic primary ballot in the 1st House District.

Incumbency labels are not unusual when a challenger has a first or last name similar to that of the incumbent.

But in this case, Banks’ attorney argued to the election panel that he should get the incumbency designation because there was a candidate in the Republican primary, Brian Barill of Grosse Pointe Woods, with the same first name.

On Wednesday, Barill quietly withdrew his candidacy for the 1st House District, which covers a part of Detroit, the Grosse Pointes and a portion of Harper Woods.

Barill did not return messages from The Detroit News seeking comment about his decision to quit the race.

Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, said Thursday that Banks' incumbent designation "would no longer be necessary and shouldn’t appear on the ballot."

The Wayne County Election Commission on Monday will consider removing Banks' title from the ballot, according to a meeting notice.

Retired Marine makes bid

A retired Marine Corps lieutenant general from the western Upper Peninsula has filed petitions to run for Congress in the Republican primary in northern Michigan’s 1st Congressional District.

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John W. “Jack” Bergman said he filed 2,000 petition signatures Tuesday to get on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

He will likely be challenging two established names in U.P. and northern Michigan Republican politics: state Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba and former state Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City.

Bergman is an 18-year resident of Watersmeet, an outpost in the western U.P. wilderness.

He flew a helicopter in the Vietnam War and then spent more than 20 years in the Marine Reserves, mixing in a “hybrid” career as a Northwest Airlines pilot and operating a medical supply business.

Bergman was recalled to active duty in 2003 and retired in 2009 as a three-star brigadier general.

“I felt it was time for me to step up and put some rudder into this ship known as the United States and put it back on course,” Bergman said Tuesday.

Bergman, 69, still owns and operates a medical supply business and is planning to use his military service to distinguish himself from Casperson and Allen in the race.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, we have two career politicians seeking to ascend to the next rung of their career ladder,” Bergman told The Detroit News. “You have me who is coming out of retirement to serve the country in a suit rather than a uniform.”

Snyder a business lunch hit

Gov. Rick Snyder is facing a recall petition drive and continued calls to resign over the Flint water crisis, but his retooled message of economic growth despite challenges appears to be a hit with die-hard supporters in the business community.

Snyder received a standing ovation last week at a Lansing Economic Club luncheon, where he received a warm welcome from committee chairwoman Deb Muchmore, the wife of his former chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore. “It is said that in difficult times, leadership rises — it steps forward. That is certainly true of Gov. Rick Snyder during this difficult period,” Deb Muchmore said.

Snyder got another loud round of applause following question-and-answer period comments by Edythe Hatter-Williams, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works!

Williams said she grew up in Flint and has family there, including grandchildren personally affected by the water crisis and have medical issues.

“If you’re not living it, you cannot imagine,” she told the crowd, before addressing the governor: “… I just want to personally thank you for everything you’re doing, have done and will do for those residents of my hometown.”

Contributors: Chad Livengood and Jonathan Oosting