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Ad war: Snyder touts Calley, Schuette attacks him

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The Republican gubernatorial primary battle is heating up on a television near you, with Gov. Rick Snyder touting Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in a new advertisement and Attorney General Bill Schuette blasting Calley in the first attack ad of the 2018 cycle.

A screen shot taken from an ad airing for Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was unveiled March 23, 2018

Snyder, who this week endorsed Calley as his chosen successor, says in a new 30-second spot that the Portland Republican “must be our next governor.” The ad, paid for by his Relentless Positive Action political committee, is set to air on broadcast TV stations in various markets starting Friday.

Schuette’s campaign was also expected to begin airing new ads Friday — one that promotes the Midland Republican and his endorsement by President Donald Trump, and another that criticizes Calley. The ads will appear on cable and satellite television but not broadcast stations, which have the widest reach.

Calley began airing his own broadcast television ads last week. Schuette leads in early polls of the GOP primary field, which includes state Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton Township and Saginaw Obstetrician Jim Hines.

Snyder’s new commercial plays on his “one tough nerd” nickname and features the governor joking that Calley’s only flaw is he’s “way too cool to be a nerd.”

Michigan has cut taxes and regulations, become a right-to-work state, “rescued” Detroit and grown jobs over the past seven years, Snyder says in the ad. “Brian Calley’s been invaluable to our comeback. He’s the next generation. Smart, conservative, soft-spoken but tough.”

Schuette’s attack ad criticizes Calley for helping craft a business tax under Democratic former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, fighting to bring more “Obamacare to Michigan” by supporting Medicaid expansion and claims he “deserted” Trump by withdrawing his 2016 endorsement in the presidential race.

Calley pulled back his endorsement after old audio surfaced of Trump making lewd and vulgar comments about grabbing women by the genitals without their consent.

“Jennifer Granholm, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton – when it mattered most, Brian Calley stood with them,” a narrator says in the ad.

Schuette’s other new commercial features footage from his Sept. 12 campaign launch event in Midland and argues he is “the strong leader who can defeat the Granholm liberals.”

Republican primary voters “have a choice between a consistent, steadfast conservative in Bill Schuette, who has been endorsed by the president and vice president, or someone like Brian Calley, who repeatedly failed the test of standing up to damaging liberal policies when it mattered most,” said Schuette senior campaign strategist John Sellek.

Calley spokesman Mike Schrimpf said the dueling ads show a clear distinction between “comeback-focused Brian Calley and shady Bill Schuette,” calling the attorney general “the ultimate politician who will say anything to seize power.”

“While Brian is talking about his plans to continue the Michigan comeback that has led to 540,000 new jobs, rising incomes, and a growing population, Schuette is focused on smearing Brian Calley and his record of positive results,” Schrimpf said.

Snyder’s advertising buy appears to be significant. Federal Communication Commission records show his PAC is spending more than $52,000 for broadcast airtime on West Michigan stations and more than $54,000 for airtime on WDIV in Detroit.

Sellek called the Schuette ad campaign “a statewide buy on cable and satellite TV that specifically speaks to active conservative primary voters who will likely vote in the primary this August.”

The new ads cap a busy week in the Republican primary, which saw Snyder endorse Calley and the powerful Michigan Chamber of Commerce endorse Schuette.

The primary election is Aug. 7.

Democrats competing for their party’s nomination include state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed of Shelby Township, Ann Arbor entrepreneur Shri Thanedar and former Xerox executive Bill Cobb of Farmington Hills.