Land backs Trott despite Bentivolio’s bid

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land said Friday U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio’s write-in campaign for Congress to help her get elected won’t change her support for 11th Congressional District GOP nominee Dave Trott.

Bentivolio told The Detroit News on Thursday that he’s mounting a long-shot write-in candidacy to get disaffected Republicans out to the polls Nov. 4 for Land’s campaign against Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters.

“I hadn’t heard this yet,” Land said at the end of an interview with The Detroit News editorial board.

The former secretary of state said the Milford Republican’s campaign is unlikely to succeed.

“I’ve always encouraged people to run if they want to run, but I would warn him that’s a tough road to do that,” Land said. “I’m supporting Dave Trott. He’s the nominee.”

Bentivolio himself was surprised that Land backed Trott.

“I wasn't told she endorsed the foreclosure attorney,” he said in a Friday email. “...No one in my office knew.”

Bentivolio said he doubts his write-in candidacy will hinder Trott’s race against Democrat Bobby McKenzie, a Canton Township resident who is a former State Department counter-terrorism adviser. Birmingham lawyer Trott is favored to win the Republican-leaning congressional district in western Wayne County and southern Oakland County.

“If Trott wins or loses by 5,000 votes, I’m not going to take credit for all of that,” Bentivolio said. “There are people out there who are not going to vote for him but would vote for me.”

Bentivolio lost by 33 percentage points to Birmingham lawyer Trott in the August primary and has said he was displeased with comments by Trott’s campaign about staffers and relatives after the primary.

Bentivolio acknowledged Friday the write-in campaign will be difficult because voters will have trouble correctly spelling his last name. He said he is registering an assumed name — “Kerry B” — in an effort to get fewer write-in votes disqualified.

“If people want to make an issue of it, I will have an assumed name, Kerry B,” he said.

The first-term congressman said he “would love to do a debate” after McKenzie issued a press release urging a series of debates between himself, Bentivolio and Trott. Bentivolio said McKenzie in a Thursday phone call initially wanted to keep Trott out of the debates, but he insisted Trott be included.

McKenzie’s campaign denied it wanted Trott kept out of forums.

“The campaign is doing everything it can to facilitate discussions between the candidates,” McKenzie spokesman Tony Coppola said Friday. “They did talk, but we have been in discussions with the Trott campaign about a forum at Seaholm High School in Birmingham.”

The Trott campaign accused McKenzie of playing political games.

“We were ready to debate Mr. McKenzie earlier in the week and were disappointed he backed out at the last minute. McKenzie is being disingenuous with voters,” Trott campaign manager Megan Piwowar said Friday. “We recognize Bobby McKenzie has no ties to the community and moved here just to run for Congress, but we are hopeful he will be more credible when dealing with this topic moving forward.”

McKenzie’s campaign said the candidate had a previously scheduled event that conflicted with the Highland Township forum. McKenzie’s website says he was born in Dearborn and raised in Dearborn Heights.