Political insider: Bishop slams Gilbert for absence

Detroit News staff

U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop said Wednesday his Democratic opponent, actress Melissa Gilbert, is hiding after not showing up to a Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce candidates event Monday because she reportedly didn’t want to answer questions from the audience.

Pamela McConeghy, president and CEO of the Greater Brighton Chamber, told Gongwer News Service that Gilbert did not want to take questions from her members at the event on Monday, so she was not allowed to participate. Bishop, R-Rochester, had the stage to himself.

Gilbert is a Hollywood actress who relocated to Howell to run for the 8th Congressional District seat against Bishop, a freshman.

Reporters have had limited opportunities to interview her, especially after Bishop’s campaign dug up comments Gilbert made on “The View” talk show in 2009 that attempts to sentence filmmaker Roman Polanski for the 1977 rape of a 13-year-old girl were “excessive.” Gilbert disavowed her Polanski comments, The Detroit News reported April 13.

Bishop said Gilbert needs to answer questions about “burning issues” affecting the country, from health care to foreign affairs.

“I find it a bit curious that she has hidden from all of that and has refused to come out from wherever she may be,” Bishop said. “She has really relied on her celebrity to advance her cause.”

Gilbert’s campaign did not directly address questions this week about why she did not participate in the Brighton Chamber event.

Instead, Gilbert’s campaign sought to highlight how Bishop declined to attend a forum in March sponsored by the Michigan Education Association — the Democratic Party-aligned teachers union that gave Bishop fits when he was majority leader of the Michigan Senate.

“Mike Bishop’s assertion couldn’t be more ironic, considering he refused to meet with the teachers in the 8th District, and then he lied that he ever got an invite,” Gilbert campaign manager James Stretch said in a statement. “As a representative of this district, it’s his responsibility to listen to every one of his constituents, and he failed at that when he refused a meeting with the 8th District teachers.”

Former GOP governor endorses Democrat Driskell

Former Republican Gov. William Milliken is keeping up his streak of endorsing Democrats for office.

On Wednesday, the 94-year-old Milliken issued a public endorsement of Democratic state Rep. Gretchen Driskell of Saline in her campaign for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District seat against incumbent Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton.

“We need people in Washington who work to find common ground and common solutions to our problems. Based on her record of achievement, I believe Gretchen Driskell is that person,” Milliken said in a statement released by the Driskell campaign. “I urge the voters of the 7th Congressional District to elect Gretchen Driskell as their representative in Congress.”

Milliken, a longtime moderate Republican who was governor form 1969 to 1983, has been increasingly endorsing Democrats in major races over the past decade.

He backed Democrat Gary Peters for the U.S. Senate in 2014, sided with Democratic Gov. JenniferGranholm in her 2006 re-election bid and supported then-Massachussets Sen. John Kerry for president in 2004 over incumbent Republican President George W. Bush.

Milliken split his ticket in 2014, endorsing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s re-election over Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, who unseated Walberg in 2008 and then lost the seat in 2010 to Walberg.

Contributors: Chad Livengood and Keith Laing