Chamber endorses Schuette in governor’s race

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The Michigan Chamber of Commerce on Thursday endorsed Bill Schuette in the 2018 governor’s race, boosting the term-limited attorney general’s bid for the Republican nomination.

Bill Schuette

Rich Studley, chairman and CEO of the powerful business advocacy group, called Schuette the “most well-qualified” candidate to lead state government and “keep Michigan moving forward.”

“Bill Schuette has an independent track record of accomplishment,” Studley said in a statement. “Drawing upon experience in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of state government and steadfast leadership, Bill is strongly positioned to win both the August primary and November general election.”

The endorsement comes one day after term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder formally backed Lt. Gov. Brian Calley as his chosen successor. In a Thursday fundraising letter, Snyder called Calley a “bureaucracy buster” best positioned to “continue the Michigan comeback.”

Schuette and Calley will compete in the Aug. 7 Republican primary with state Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton Township and Saginaw obstetrician Jim Hines. Schuette of Midland leads in early polls.

The chamber’s endorsement adds to Schuette’s support from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who the attorney general earlier this month introduced before his tax cut speech in Detroit.

The chamber endorsement is typically coveted in the GOP primary but does not always predict the winner. The chamber backed former state Attorney General Mike Cox for governor in June 2010, two months before Snyder scored a surprise victory in the Republican primary.

Schuette, who has served in elected or appointed government positions for three decades, “has the ability and determination to hit the ground running from Day One,” Studley said. He has been a congressman, state senator, state agriculture department director and state Court of Appeals judge.

Schuette, in a statement, said he was honored to receive the chamber’s endorsement and intends to be Michigan's "jobs governor."

"My priority will be to grow Michigan’s economy,"he said. "I look forward to working with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and so many other business organizations and employers, and drive our state forward in the years ahead."

Calley consultant John Yob suggested the Schuette campaign is "panicking" in the wake of the Snyder endorsement.

“The chamber was wrong in 2010 when they tried to do everything they could to defeat Rick Snyder, and they are wrong now," Yob said, noting more than 500,000 jobs created under the Snyder and Calley administration."

The Michigan Chamber represents roughly 6,200 employers. It advocates for those interests in the Michigan Capitol and courtrooms across the state.