2017-01-26 / Columns

Two Michigan Women Stir National Politics

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Some Michigan folks who have been acclaimed by now-President Donald Trump were prominent during Inaugural Week in Washington, D.C., including two women who have headed the state GOP.

Most prominent in the national press was former Michigan Republican State Chairwoman Betsy DeVos, who, in my view, did well in congressional hearings as the controversial nominee as Secretary of Education in defending her longtime support of school choice in response to criticism by several Democratic lawmakers.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, after meeting with DeVos, said, “Our conversation reaffirmed my concerns about her nomination.

“Betsy DeVos and her family have a long history of pushing policies that I believe have seriously undermined public education in Michigan and failed our children. Therefore, I cannot support (her).”

Randi Weingartin, head of the American Federation of Teachers union, wrote in a tweet: “Betsy DeVos is a billionaire who has spent her career and fortune to privatize and defund public ed.”

Governor Rick Snyder, writing in The Detroit News, said: “DeVos has a big heart, and she believes strongly that parental control of schools through school choice is integral to improving the performance of our K12 system.

“Contrary to the misleading picture the teachers unions are trying to paint, she shares her support for school choice with fair-minded and prominent Democrats, including Barack Obama’s two education secretaries, John King and Arne Duncan.

“In fact, Mr. King headed up a charter school himself and has helped drive a significant increase in charter school enrollment nationwide during the Obama presidency.”

There was no such controversy about Trump’s call for designation of Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel to become chairwoman of the national GOP. The Republican National Committee, a day before Trump took office, gave her the job.

Much of the national media focused on the fact that she is the niece of Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who was the 2012 Republican nominee for president, and in 2016, a Trump critic.

Michigan’s 1963-1969 Governor George Romney, who became secretary of housing and urban development after failing to win the 1968 GOP presidential nomination, was her grandfather.

There’s an interesting race to replace Romney McDaniel atop the Michigan GOP. One contender is Scott Hagerstrom of East Lansing, who was chairman of the Michigan campaign for Trump, who had the first Republican presidential win in Michigan since George H.W. Bush, in 1988.

But a more prominent Republican has, according to The Detroit News Washington bureau, the backing of Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, the most recent Republican National Chairman, and Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon.

That Republican is wealthy Ann Arbor developer and University of Michigan regent Ron Weiser, who helped raise money for the Trump campaign.

In a January 19 letter to Michigan Republicans, Priebus and Bannon called Weiser “one of the GOP’s most dedicated leaders who gave himself wholeheartedly to the Trump effort.”

Bergman Weighs In

New Congressional 1st District Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), after Trump became president, said this:

“The peaceful transfer of power has rightly been called the pinnacle of democracy. Every transition from one administration to the next sends a message of promise to democracies and hopeful democracies around the world.

“The American people have decided that they want a different direction for our country than the last administration could offer – they want opportunity, prosperity, and security.”

“I believe the policies President Trump and this administration are advancing will set us on that course. I look forward to working with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and my colleagues here in Congress to make sure that every American can succeed in this country and that we leave that legacy to our children and grandchildren.”

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journal 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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