The former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Snyder is now deputy chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.

Jarrod Agen, who joined the White House staff in February, was promoted to the deputy position Sunday after serving as Pence’s communications director.

Agen’s new role follows the departure of longtime Pence aide Josh Pitcock, who had advised Pence since he was in Congress. Nick Ayers became Pence’s new chief of staff and Agen his deputy.

In addition to communications, Agen’s new portfolio will include speechwriting, legislative affairs, outreach and policy.

Agen started with the Snyder administration in early 2014 as communications director and became the GOP governor’s full-time chief of staff in January 2016. Snyder has a close relationship with Pence that began when they were members of the National Governors Association.

Agen previously served as a deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and as a campaign spokesman for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Whitmer bid targets U.P.

Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer indicated Wednesday that she would start gathering signatures in Trump territory to make it on Michigan’s 2018 ballot.

The former Senate minority leader and ex-Ingham County prosecutor kicked off the campaign in downtown Sault Ste. Marie with volunteers and others to start gathering at least 15,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. The community is in the Upper Peninsula, where Republican President Donald Trump won handily in 2016.

“Gretchen had a great event today collecting petitions with local leaders in Sault Ste. Marie as she starts to activate her volunteer organization around the state,” said campaign spokeswoman Annie Ellison in an email.

“With more than 10,000 people signed up with the campaign, we're looking to begin mobilizing supporters statewide and building out our volunteer network as we move on to the next stage of the,” she continued.

Whitmer met later in the afternoon with Chippewa County Democrats, including former Rep. Gary McDowell and former Chippewa County Prosecutor Dennis McShane, according to her campaign. The campaign will gather signatures in other areas of the state soon.

A recent poll of 377 likely Democratic primary voters conducted by Target-Insyght showed Whitmer tied with Southfield lawyer Goeffrey Fieger at 35 percent. Fieger’s supported jumped to 50 percent among 162 Metro Detroiters surveyed, including strong backing in the city of Detroit.

It included a mix of automated land-line surveys -- 76 percent -- and live operator cell phone calls, 24 percent.

Ballot efforts raise $2.7M

Six ballot question campaigns have raised a combined $2.7 million in their bids to get their issues before Michigan voters in 2018, according to a state political finance watchdog group’s review of campaign finance records.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network poured through state campaign finance records to learn that a majority of that money also came from a handful of sources.

Three campaigns have raised more than $800,000 each, records show.

An initiative to legalize marijuana for reactional use — the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol — has raised more than $826,000.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s initiative to slash the number of legislative session days to 90 — a part-time Legislature drive called Clean MI Committee — has raised about $819,000. Most of that money came through a secretive nonprofit organization that does not disclose its donors. About $300,000 for the Clean MI Committee came from in-kind contributions.

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers — a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law — has raised $808,000 in direct contributions and nearly $3,000 in-kind contributions, campaign finance records show.

A ballot proposal to require earned sick leave statewide called Raise Michigan reported $152,150 in direct contributions mostly from the United Auto Workers Community Action Program.

Another committee called Voters Not Politicians, which wants to alter how the state draws its legislative districts, gathered $122,000 in donations and more than $8,000 in-kind contributions.

Keep Our Lakes Great, a ballot proposal to shut down Enbridge Line 5 running through the Straits of Mackinac, has raised more than $18,000 mostly through in-kind contributions.

Commissioners D.C.-bound

Dozens of Michigan county commissioners will meet with White House officials for an Aug. 8 conference, the Michigan Association of Counties announced Wednesday.

Between 50 and 100 of the state’s 622 commissioners are headed to Washington, D.C., next week after receiving an invitation from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to take part in the conference, which is meant to foster a closer relationship between the local elected officials, the White House and federal agencies.

“This is exciting opportunity for local leaders in Michigan to give their views on key issues directly to White House decision-makers,” said Shelley Goodman Taub, a Republican Oakland County commissioner from Bloomfield Hills and president of the Michigan Association of Counties’ board of directors.

Commissioners from Alger, Antrim, Barry, Bay, Berrien, Clinton, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Leelanau, Mackinac, Macomb, Manistee, Mecosta, Oakland, Oscoda, Otsego, Ottawa, St. Joseph, Tuscola and Washtenaw counties will attend.

It’s the at least the third county event the White House has hosted this summer, according to the state’s county association.

“This allows us and our (national) counterparts to provide Michigan commissioners an overview of the crucial issues in play at the federal level,” said Stephan W. Currie, MAC’s executive director.

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke, Michael Gerstein and Richard Burr

Read or Share this story: