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Ex-UN Ambassador Bolton set to address Mich. GOP

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Michigan Republicans will gather this weekend in Grand Rapids for their state convention to pick nominees to run for statewide education boards and rally activists to gear up for the fall campaigns.

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and Gov. Rick Snyder are the keynote speakers Saturday for the convention being held at DeVos Place.

Approximately 2,080 delegates will vote on the Republican Party’s nominees for Michigan Supreme Court, the State Board of Education and the elected governing boards of Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

Six Republicans are vying for two spots on the ballot for the State Board of Education:

■ Al Gui, a Oakland County GOP activist

■ Former state Rep. Tom McMillin, an accountant from Rochester Hills

■ Jeff Phillips of Caro, a member of the Kingston Community Schools board of education

■ Mike Rowley, chairman of the Delta College board of trustees and Bay County resident

■ Bill Runco of Dearborn, a former state representative, Wayne County commissioner and judge and current chairman of the 12th Congressional District Republican committee

■ Nicolette Snyder of Whitmore Lake, a hospital lactation consultant

McMillin and Runco are seen as the favorites to win the GOP nomination, given their years of involvement in party politics.

Several candidates are running on a platform opposed to Common Core education standards and the Democratic-controlled State Board of Education’s consideration of policy guidelines that schools should make to accommodate transgender students.

“We’ve got schools that are perpetually failing and we’re spending our time talking about transgender bathrooms,” Runco said. “That’s just nonsense.”

McMillin, who was president of the board of a Mount Clemens charter school from 2003 to 2008, said if he’s elected to the state board, he would fight Democratic members who often “beat up” charter schools.

“Democrats want to lock these kids in failing schools … and I’ve shown I want to give parents choices,” said McMillin, who worked to lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Michigan as a state legislator.

Phillips said he expects McMillin to win one of the GOP spots on the ballot and said he’s running to drum up support for a future constitutional amendment to change the duties and role of the State Board of Education.

“The State Board of Ed is really overstepping what we intended to be their role,” he said.

There are five candidates seeking two spots on the ballot to run for the Wayne State Board of Governors:

■ Marco Bisbikis, a Plymouth lawyer

■ Dr. Michael Busuito, a Troy plastic surgeon and board member of the Wayne State University Physician’s Group

■ Nick Fiani, past president of the Brighton Area Schools board of education

■ Mark Koroi, Plymouth lawyer

■ Kim Shmina, a nurser practitioner from Fair Haven and former Wayne State nursing instructor

Shmina is touting the endorsements of Attorney General Bill Schuette, 13 of the 14 congressional district chairs and Kathy Berden, Michigan’s Republican National Committee woman.

The races to be the GOP nominees for Supreme Court, MSU Board of Trustees and the UM Board of Regents are uncontested.

Incumbent Supreme Court Justices David Viviano and Joan Larsen are running unopposed for the Republican nomination. Viviano is seeking re-election to a full six-year term on the high court, while Larsen is seeking election to a two-year partial term.

Snyder appointed Larsen to the Supreme Court last September to fill a vacancy left by Justice Mary Beth Kelly, who resigned to return to private law practice.

Ann Arbor real estate developer Ron Weiser, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, is making his third bid for the UM Board of Regents. He will be running on the GOP ticket along with Carl Meyers, a senior vice president of investments at Raymond James & Associates in Dearborn.

William Deary, owner of Great Lakes Caring Home Health and Hospice, is seeking a seat on the MSU board along with Dan Kelly, an attorney from Independence Township who serves on the Oakland Community College Board of Trustees.

Michigan Democrats are gathering Saturday in Lansing to pick their nominees for the Supreme Court, university boards and State Board of Education. The winners of both conventions will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood