Snyder endorses Calley for governor

Mike Martindale, and Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News

Southfield — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder formally announced Wednesday he is endorsing Lt. Gov. Brian Calley as his successor, emphasizing that Calley will enhance Michigan’s economic recovery.

The endorsement, delivered here at Barton Malow Co. headquarters, was attended by more than 100 people including the construction company’s employees.

“It is a great honor to endorse Brian Calley as the next governor of Michigan,” said Snyder, who referred to Calley as the best lieutenant governor in the nation.

Both Snyder and Calley referenced Michigan as the “comeback state” that went from “worst to first” in the past eights years, not just economically but moving forward on other important issues. Snyder praised Calley’s work on “people” issues, including mental health.

“Rick Snyder provided the kind of leadership that was needed. … My commitment is to build on the strong foundation he is responsible for in Michigan,” Calley said.

The 40-year-old Republican from Portland said he has benefited from working alongside Snyder and having him as a mentor. Calley said among the issues facing the state are opioid use, schools and civility in public service.

Calley is competing for the party nomination against Attorney General Bill Schuette of Midland, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton Township and Saginaw obstetrician Jim Hines. The primary is Aug. 7.

Schuette leads in early polls of the GOP field and has racked up major endorsements, including public backing from both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Snyder is known as a solid fundraiser. While his statewide approval ratings have not fully recovered from the Flint water contamination crisis, he remains relatively popular with likely Republican voters.

Snyder has clashed with Schuette about the Flint lead contamination crisis since the attorney general’s special prosecutor is pursuing criminal charges against state Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells. The GOP governor has kept Lyon and Wells on the job, while Schuette has said they should have stepped aside.

In 2016, Calley worked weekly in Flint on the crisis.

A mid-January poll conducted by the Glengariff Group Inc. and provided to The Detroit News showed Snyder’s statewide approval rating at 42.5 percent. But 69.4 percent of “strong” Republican voters gave him high marks, along with 66 percent of GOP-leaning voters in the survey of 600 voters with a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

The poll showed Snyder with a higher approval rating than Trump among Republicans and other likely voters.

Calley, 40, officially launched his gubernatorial campaign on Nov. 28, touting private-sector job growth over the past seven years under the Snyder administration while taking a series of jabs at Schuette.

He is attempting to be the first Michigan lieutenant governor to succeed his boss in 50 years and the first to win a gubernatorial election since voters approved the state’s strict term-limits law in 1992.