Republicans nominate Leonard, Lang for Michigan ticket
LANSING– Michigan Republicans on Saturday solidified their ticket for the fall, choosing state House Speaker Tom Leonard as their attorney general candidate and accountant Mary Treder Lang for secretary of state while unveiling a “results not resistance” message they hope will persuade voters to keep the GOP in charge of the state.
Leonard, who previously worked in the attorney general’s office and as a prosecutor in Genesee County, defeated state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker at a GOP nominating convention attended by thousands of delegates in Lansing. He will face Democratic lawyer Dana Nessel, who secured her party’s endorsement months ago and will be officially nominated Sunday in East Lansing.
The 37-year-old Leonard called Nessel, an attorney and ex-prosecutor in Wayne County who has been embraced by the party’s left wing, a “fringe” candidate.
“We’ve got to stay focused on delivering real results for the people of this state,” he said, noting that the Republican-led Legislature eliminated onerous driver “responsibility” fees so hundreds of thousands of people will be able to get their driver’s license reinstated.
Lang, 58, who has worked in management in the business and nonprofit sectors, beat former Michigan State University assistant professor Joseph Guzman. She will go against Democrat Jocelyn Benson, the CEO of a sports-based nonprofit dedicated to improving race relations.
“In this day and age, it is important that the next secretary of state has the modern-day set of skills that are necessary to drive us forward as a state,” said Lang, pointing to her background in accounting and computer security.
Republicans have controlled Michigan state government for nearly eight years but are being term-limited out of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state offices during a midterm election in which Democrats are energized and the president’s party has historically faced rough sledding. There also will be a lot of turnover in the GOP-controlled House and Senate.
Republicans highlighted the state’s economic growth and their policy achievements at a time they said Democrats are overly focused on resisting President Donald Trump.
“We have no resistance to anything. We have only results to present,” state GOP chairman Ron Weiser said before the candidates embarked on a multiday “results not resistance” bus tour of the state.
The party is not entirely unified heading into November, though.
Outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has not endorsed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette and was not in attendance Saturday, instead delivering a video message. The Michigan Democratic Party, which characterizes the Republican friction as a “civil war,” posted “missing” signs of Snyder outside the convention hall.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who lost to Schuette in the Aug. 7 primary, did speak from the stage, calling for unity and urging support of the entire ticket, which includes Schuette’s running mate, Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons.
“This is a solid, solid, solid ticket,” said Schuette, who called Democrats’ “far-left” slate “the most extreme … assembled in Michigan in my memory.”
Some intraparty conflict within the GOP was also evident during the nomination of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement, who was booed because she recently joined 4-3 rulings to allow an anti-partisan gerrymandering initiative on the November ballot and to let public schools ban visitors from carrying guns. Clement and Justice Kurtis Wilder, who dissented from the redistricting decision, are Snyder appointees running to stay on the court, which Republicans control 5-2.
Also nominated Saturday were candidates for three university boards and the State Board of Education. While those races usually do not get much attention, Michigan State University’s eight-member board has come under scathing criticism amid fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Two GOP trustees are not seeking re-election. In an uncontested race, businessmen Dave Dutch and Mike Miller were nominated to run for those seats. Miller’s bio said his daughter was a competitive gymnast and Spartan volleyball player who was treated by Nassar.
Democrats also selected their education board candidates on Saturday, including two for the MSU board: United Way corporate relations director Kelly Tebay and lawyer Brianna Scott. Tebay has said she was sexually assaulted as an MSU student. They were among six candidates left in that contest by the time of voting.
Democrats, who hope a surge in turnout for this month’s primary foreshadows a “blue wave” this fall, will resume their convention on Sunday — when they will formally back Nessel, Benson and gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer’s running mate, Garlin Gilchrist II.
The party’s Supreme Court candidates, University of Michigan law professor Sam Bagenstos and appellate attorney Megan Cavanagh, also will be made official.
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