2017-10-19 / Columns

Attorney General Stirrings

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Over the decades, much of the year-around Michigan political focus has been on the office of the attorney general. A prime example was Democrat Frank Kelley, who in 1961 to 1999 was Michigan’s longest-serving attorney general and longtime power in Michigan politics.

Some attorneys general have gone on to be governor, the latest being Democrat Jennifer Granholm, elected governor in 2002 and 2006.

Granholm, since leaving office, has been busy on national television as a media commentator.

Earlier examples of attorneys general becoming governors: Republicans Alexander J. Groesbeck, 1921 to 1926, and Wilber M. Brucker, 1931 to 1932.

Current Attorney General Republican Bill Schuette, a former member of the Legislature and Congress as well as serving as Michigan Agriculture director, is term-limited in his current job and eyes being replacement of term-limited Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

In my view, Schuette is early frontrunner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next year. But lively contests could loom.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, as of this writing, may or may not run for governor. Snyder, at this point, has not endorsed a successor, but called Calley “the best lieutenant governor in the country.”

A major issue is that Snyder and Schuette have had continuing differences on how the Snyder Administration has handled the lingering Flint drinking water crisis.

Snyder said charges brought by Schuette are having “a major impact on state employee morale.”

Snyder, as quoted in the Detroit Free Press, said: “I’ve actually had people tell me they took retirement or people didn’t want to take a job because of this environment.”

Schuette dismissed Snyder’s criticism, saying, “I don’t worry about that. We’re in the trial process, and it will take its course.”

House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) recently announced, as long expected, that he would seek the GOP nomination for attorney general.

Leonard, who became speaker this year, said in the Detroit Free Press: “I love fighting for people. My entire professional career has been fighting for people. I was in the attorney general’s office for a couple of years. And that puts me in a position where I’m immediately qualified. …I love fighting for people.”

Republican Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton filed for the attorney general seat in September.

Announced Democrats include former U.S. Attorney Pat Miles of Grand Rapids who served West Michigan as an appointee of President Barack Obama, and Detroit attorney Dana Nessel.

Candidates for attorney general, as well as for secretary of state, get nominations from party conventions held after the 2018 August primary.

Bob Carr Back on Trail

Bob Carr of Mackinac Island and Traverse City has joined the field of Republicans seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Carr, a community activist running on a platform of revitalizing Michigan’s downtowns, made an unsuccessful 1996 bid for the seat of 1st District U.S. Representative Bart Stupak of Menominee, the first Democrat to serve successive terms in the district.

Also seeking the GOP nomination: Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., Lena Rose Epstein, co-chair of President Donald Trump’s Michigan campaign, and Detroit businessman James John.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for 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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