Amash calls self ‘Nightmare on K Street’

Detroit News staff

Last weekend, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash’s campaign sought to capitalize on the Halloween holiday by contending that the liberty-minded west Michigan Republican congressman is the “Nightmare on K Street.”

“Why is it that Justin haunts the dreams of D.C.’s special interest cronies? I’m sure his unrelenting support of the Constitution causes a little fright,” Amash campaign manager Connie Lemmink wrote in a fundraising email to supporters.

The “Nightmare on K Street” label originates from one conservative publication’s headline, “Justin Amash is a lobbyist’s worst nightmare.” That story was based on Washingtonian magazine’s biennial ranking of members of Congress. Amash was rated the No. 1 enemy of Washington’s K Street lobbying corps.

“There are many reasons why Justin sends a chill down the spine of every crony who comes to D.C. for handouts,” Lemmink wrote. “But make no mistake: These powerful interests want their nightmare to end, and they want to get rid of Justin Amash.”

After fending off self-funded businessman Brian Ellis in the August Republican primary, Amash faces nominal competition in Tuesday’s general election against Democrat Bob Goodrich of Kentwood and Green Party candidate Tonya Duncan of Kalamazoo.

The Washingtonian also ranked Amash the No. 1 “tweet master” for his prolific outreach to constituents on social media.

‘Howwwloween’ for wolves

Other political campaigns are playing up Halloween-theme talking points.

The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected ballot campaign advocating for “no” votes on proposals 14-1 and 14-2 on Tuesday’s ballot to allow wolf hunting sent out an email this week featuring a howling wolf with the subject line: “Howwwloween.”

“To think that our children and grandchildren could grow up in a world without wolves in the wild?” the email said. “That’s truly scary.”

Horrors of Obamacare

The state Republican Party has revived an familiar theme — the horrors of Obamacare — to criticize Gov. Rick Snyder’s gubernatorial challenger, Mark Schauer. The Battle Creek Democrat voted in favor of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act during his one term as a U.S. representative.

That leads GOP leaders believe they have unmasked hypocrisy because Schauer didn’t buy health insurance for his campaign staff through one of the ACA’s controversial exchanges. Instead, he last year bought a plan offered by the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Schauer helped force Obamacare on others but won’t buy it for his own staff, the GOP argues, referring to the ACA requirement that almost everyone has to have health insurance, although buying through the exchanges is optional.

“Mark Schauer failed to enroll his campaign staff in Obamacare even though he was eligible to do so,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak. “Schauer forced hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to accept the limitations of Obamacare, but refused to bind himself and his staff to those same limitations.”

“Our campaign provides quality, affordable health insurance to all full-time employees,” replied Schauer campaign spokesman Zack Pohl. “The health plan was selected in September of 2013, before the open enrollment period began for the health care exchanges. The Blue Cross Blue Shield plan is fully compliant with the Affordable Care Act.”

Pohl challenged Republicans to say whether Snyder’s campaign provides health insurance for its employees — and, if so, whether it includes abortion coverage or requires them to buy it separately out-of-pocket. It was a reference to a controversial Right to Life citizen initiative, approved by the Legislature without the need of Snyder’s signature, prohibiting group health insurance plans in Michigan from providing abortion coverage as anything but an extra-cost rider. Snyder had vetoed a similar earlier bill.

Peters reaches back to 2007

Speaking of revived themes, the staff of Congressman Gary Peters’ U.S. Senate campaign is questioning anew the handling of a 2007 recall election-related controversy involving the Meijer Corp. by Peters’ opponent, ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.

Meijer got in trouble with Land’s office in 2007 when its contracted consultants funded an effort to recall Acme Township board members over a zoning dispute. Meijer, which wanted to build a new super market in the township just outside Traverse City, ended up paying a state fine of $190,000.

Peters’ campaign is calling it “a backroom deal” that got Meijer, “a major contributor,” immunity from criminal prosecution. “Both then and now, officials directly involved in the situation express shock and disdain over Land’s ineffectual handling of the case,” says a news release.

But Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift said it’s an old case on which there’s nothing new to report.

“As Secretary of State, Terri Lynn Land issued the strictest penalty to date against the company and referred the case to the Attorney General's office,” Swift said. “It's troubling Gary Peters opposes accountability.” She noted that in an online publication’s subsequent story, the township attorney praised Land’s stiff fine while referring the case to then-Attorney General Mike Cox, a fellow Republican.

Contributors: Gary Heinlein and Chad Livengood