91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

MI GOP convention renominates Calley over tea party challenger

The statewide Republican ticket lines up after Saturday’s GOP convention in Novi.
Rick Pluta

Delegates to the Michigan Republican Party convention this weekend renominated Lieutenant Gov.Brian Calley to be Gov.Rick Snyder’s running mate. But he had to fight for the job.

Tea party convention delegates meeting in Novi tried to deny Gov. Snyder his choice as a running mate. They voiced frustration with the administration’s support for the Medicaid expansion and the Common Core curriculum standards.

In opening remarks,  Snyder made a personal plea to the delegates to support Calley.

“Brian Calley is the best lieutenant governor in the United States,” he said. “He’s done outstanding work. He’s a strong conservative voice in our administration. We don’t always see eye to eye but he speaks up.” 

Calley got 65 percent of the convention votes over tea party activist Wes Nakagiri, who then made a motion to make the vote officially unanimous as a show of party unity. Snyder and Calley also agreed to stop by a Nakagiri volunteer thank-you party.

Many Nakagiri supporters expressed frustration about how things turned and questioned the openness of GOP leaders to their views, but said they would support the ticket. Others were not so forgiving.

“I will not be voting for the governor,” said delegate Bill Kostin. “Besides right to work, what is the difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party now? The Republican Party leadership, not the individuals. There are a lot of guys like me who still hold to the core principals of limited government.”

The GOP convention also renominated Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette to appear on the November ballot, as well as Michigan Supreme Court Justices Brian Zahra and David Viviano. Kent County Circuit Judge James Redford was also nominated for the state Supreme Court.

There were also nominations for the University of Michigan and Michigan State University boards, and the Michigan State Board of Education. Education board nominee Maria Carl was a controversial choice because of remarks she allegedly made at a 1992 state GOP convention urging delegates to not vote for a Jewish candidate for the Republican National Committee. Carl ducked reporters who tried to question her following the convention.

Michigan Democrats are meeting in Lansing this weekend. There was a fight over nominating an anti-abortion candidate for the state Supreme Court.  Judge Bill Murphy won the nomination, and told the convention his personal views on abortion would not affect his legal decisions.

The Democratic convention will wrap up its nominations Sunday, including naming Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer’s running mate.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.