2016-11-24 / Columns

Michigan Names Abound in Trump Speculation

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

As President-elect Donald Trump assembles his political and government teams, an impressive array of Michigan Republican names has surfaced in media speculation, and some have already been media fades.

For example, ex-8th District U.S. Representative Mike Rogers of Brighton, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, early on was cited as a prospect to head the Central Intelligence Agency. He won’t.

Rogers was among those dismissed from the Trump intelligence transition team as part of the dumping of the team of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was ousted as transition chief.

The highly credentialed Rogers said, “It was a privilege to prepare and advise the policy, personnel, and agency action teams on all aspects of the national security portfolio during the initial pre-election planning phase.”

Former 2nd District U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra of Holland, who also chaired the House Intelligence Committee, remains a key transition player.

After 18 years in Congress, Hoekstra quit to make a failed 2010 bid for governor, and then failed in a 2012 bid for the U.S. Senate.

Two women chairs of the Michigan Republican Party, one past and one current, and both from the most prominent families in state politics, have been prominent in recent speculation about Team Trump.

Former Chairwoman Betsy DeVos, a vocal supporter of charter schools and school choice, is mentioned to be secretary of education. She’s on the board of directors of the Great Lakes Education Project, champion of charters and choice.

There also was speculation that Trump was considering current Michigan GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel to chair the Republican National Committee. She told the Associated Press: “I’ll be interested in whatever Mr. Trump wants.”

She is niece of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, failed 2014 challenger of President Barack Obama. Mitt is the son of 1963-1969 Michigan Governor George Romney, who once made a bid to be president.

Mitt Romney, who earlier in their competitive days called Trump “a phony and a fraud,” met with him Saturday. Trump, in those early days, said that “Mitt was a disaster.”

The Romney family is a memorable one in Michigan politics.

Another one of note for longevity at the state level is that of 1969-1982 Governor William G. Milliken, who once had a Traverse City area state senate seat previously held by his father and grandfather.

Milliken’s son, Bill, Ann Arbor-based head of the Michigan real estate agents, led the field in voting for trustees of the Washtenaw County Community College.

Michigan-China Ties Enhanced

Since 2011, Governor Rick Snyder has made six investment trips to China, including one that ended last week.

He presided over the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Automotive Office and the Shanghai International Automotive City.

Since 2011, according to The Detroit News, Michigan has received nearly $650 million in new business investments from China.

Snyder’s trip was a continuation of decades-old efforts by Michigan governors to build economic and cultural ties with China. Many Michigan colleges have programs touting Chinese students, including Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist of The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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