Snyder PAC to aid GOP state House incumbents, Walberg

Chad Livengood and Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday endorsed the re-election of 15 Republican incumbents in the Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, directing campaign contributions to the incumbents from his new super political action committee.

Snyder’s Relentless Positive Action PAC will make $1,000 contributions to the 15 House Republicans, including the two leading candidates to be the next GOP leader — Rep. Tom Leonard of DeWitt and Rep. Rob VerHeulen of Walker.

The Republican governor also is backing Walberg in his re-election against Democratic state Rep. Gretchen Driskell of Saline. Walberg’s campaign will receive a maximum $2,700 donation from Snyder’s RPA PAC.

“Today’s endorsements from RPA PAC reaffirms my commitment to working with my partners in the legislature to continue Michigan’s reinvention and continue our work of passing balanced budgets, job growth, increasing home values and expanding opportunities for all Michiganders,” Snyder said in a statement.

Snyder’s endorsements include:

■ Rep. John Bizon, 62nd House District.

■ Rep. Lee Chatfield, 107th House District.

■ Rep. Kathy Crawford, 38th House District.

■ Rep. Daniela Garcia, 90th House District.

■ Rep. Joe Graves, 51st House District.

■ Rep. Martin Howrylak, 41st House District.

■ Rep. Holly Hughes, 91st House District.

■ Rep. Brandt Iden, 61st House District.

■ Rep. Larry Inman, 104th House District.

■ Rep. Klint Kesto, 39th House District.

■ Rep. Tom Leonard, 93rd House District.

■ Rep. Brett Roberts, 65th House District.

■ Rep. Jason Sheppard, 56th House District.

■ Rep. Mary Whiteford, 80th House District.

■ Rep. Rob VerHeulen, 74th House District.

Bettina Inclan, a spokeswoman for RPA PAC, said the governor’s committee will make additional contributions to Republican candidates in the general election.

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, attending the Republican National Convention as an alternate delegate, welcomed the support from Snyder but had not yet seen the full list of endorsements as of Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s great to see the governor is being active in this cycle,” said Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant.

Republicans are hoping to retain control of the state House this fall, but presidential elections tend to drive turnout for Democrats, who would need to pick up nine seats to win a majority. Businessman Donald Trump will be atop the ticket as the Republican nominee for president and could influence down-ballot races.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a negative at all,” said Cotter, who did not back Trump ahead of Michigan’s March 8 primary but is supporting him as the GOP nominee.

Cotter said he thinks Trump could connect with voters in some Macomb and Monroe county districts and “everything north of Mount Pleasant.”

“Those are all battle ground areas and places where we look at the polls and we see Donald Trump is doing very well,” he said.

Snyder supporters contributed more than $331,000 to the governor’s state and federal super PACs through early April since Snyder started the super PAC last fall, according to the committee’s most recent finance report.

Bill Parfet, the retired founder of MPI Research in Mattawan, contributed $100,000 alone to the federal Super PAC. Parfet is chairing Snyder’s super PAC.

The Detroit News reported last month that RPA PAC has spent $147,000 on law firms, political fundraisers and consultants who are managing the RPA Super PAC. It amounts to 44 percent of the money raised going to anyone but Republican candidates who believe in Snyder’s relentlessly positive governing mantra.

Snyder released the endorsements during the Republican National Convention, which he is not attending in person. The governor will be in Cleveland on Thursday to host a brunch for Michigan Republicans attending the convention.

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood