Lt. Gov. Calley urges Oakland County Republicans to allow tea party delegates

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is urging his supporters not to challenge the state convention voting rights of a slate of tea party-backed delegates elected Thursday night during a raucous Oakland County Republican Party convention.

A group led by Milford tea party activist Matt Maddock took over an 11th Congressional District meeting Thursday at a county convention in Waterford and elected 121 delegates for the Aug. 23 Michigan Republican Party convention. They did so over objections by Oakland County GOP leaders that they violated several rules during a disorganized meeting.

The delegate battle has taken on additional intensity this year because Calley is being challenged by Hartland tea party leader Wes Nakagiri for the right to join Gov. Rick Snyder on the November ballot.

In a Friday evening email to supporters, Calley called for peace and expressed optimism that he has a bigger delegate advantage heading into the state convention next weekend.

“There is some question as to whether rules were either adopted or properly followed,” Calley wrote. “I am urging my supporters not to challenge the results of the convention and rather to allow the results to stand.”

Oakland County Republican party chairman Jim Thienel vowed Thursday night to challenge the credentials of the 11th District delegates Maddock pushed through.

But in light of Calley’s request, the county party is not going to pursue a challenge before a 5 p.m. Monday deadline, Thienel said.

“At this time, the party is not going to challenge,” Thienel told The Detroit News on Saturday. “We’re going to honor the lieutenant governor’s request.”

Michigan’s Republican and Democratic parties select their candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and statewide education boards through party nominating conventions. Each has a different process for becoming a delegate.

Republicans elected 6,500 precinct delegates in the Aug. 5 primary who turned out at 83 county conventions Thursday to narrow the field to 2,135 state convention delegates.

Normally, a party’s gubernatorial nominee selects their running mate. Democrat Mark Schauer tapped Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown to be his running mate in April. She’s running unopposed at the Democrats’ state convention next week.

But Republicans have been divided, with conservative tea party activists pushing Nakagiri’s candidacy because they believe Snyder has governed like a liberal at times through tax policy and his support of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

In his email to supporters, Calley emphasized “I am the conservative voice in the administration and I want to continue as your” lieutenant governor.

Calley also warned against divisions within the party, which have become more pronounced during his campaign to fend of Nakagiri’s challenge through a major delegate recruitment and election effort.

“United we can accomplish great things this fall,” Calley wrote. “Divided we risk going back to the failed policies of the past.”

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