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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Republicans have taken no official steps to rebuke the kinds of anti-gay comments made recently by GOP National Committee member Dave Agema.

The party's meeting on Saturday in Lansing didn't deal with a measure proposed by western Michigan activist Jason Watts, submitted after the deadline for resolutions. It doesn't mention Agema but disavows the party of "demagogic rhetoric that is incendiary and unbecoming of civil discourse."

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The Republican Party wants Detroit to know it cares. The GOP is hoping to increase its presence in the city where Barack Obama grabbed 97.5% of the vote in 2012.

And, how is the GOP going to reach out to Detroiters? By sending in Senator Rand Paul, tea party senator from Kentucky, to headline the opening of the new GOP outreach center, which is named "The African-American Engagement Office."

This has at least one Republican stalwart cringing. Dennis Lennox, GOP strategist and columnist at the Morning Sun, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The GOP’s Civil War

Oct 10, 2013

Everyone knows there’s a war between the parties going on right now in Congress and in Washington, a war that has shut down the national parks and large parts of the federal government.

But there’s also a war going on within the Republican Party, a war being fought on battlefields from Washington to Lansing to Canton and Grand Rapids. It’s a war for the party’s mind and soul.

Essentially, it’s a war between the Tea Party Republicans and the party’s more traditional conservatives, especially the business community. Right now, the Tea Party seems to be winning. For a while, that had the regular Republicans concerned. They know that if extremists are the face of the party, they can say goodbye to any hopes of recapturing the White House, and probably also the U.S. Senate.

In a few weeks, a U.S. District judge will hold a hearing on a Michigan case that challenges the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. On today's show: we explored the implications the case could have in Michigan and across the nation.

Also on today's show, Michigan wines are really making a name for themselves outside of the state. We talked to a connoisseur who isn't the least bit surprised by that news. And, according to a new report, lobbyist spending on free lunches for legislators has gone up. We spoke to Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network to see what else they are spending on. Also, The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference was this past weekend. It's Just Politics co-hosts Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark joined us to talk about what happened there.

SteveBurt1947 / Flickr

The co-hosts of It’s Just Politics were hanging out with lots of Republicans this weekend - around 1,500, in case you were wondering. 

Rick Pluta, Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and our own political junkie here at Michigan Radio, Zoe Clark joined us today to talk about what they learned at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference that took place over the weekend.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Calley wins straw poll to be Snyder's running mate again in 2014

"Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won a presidential straw poll of Republicans attending a party conference this past weekend on Mackinac Island. New Jersey Governor Chris Christy came in second. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley easily won the straw poll to be Governor Rick Snyder’s running mate again in 2014," Rick Pluta reports.

Government shutdown could affect Michigan's poor

"A federal government shutdown could have a big effect in Michigan, especially for many of the state’s most vulnerable. John Nixon is Michigan’s state budget director. He says if the federal government does shut down starting October First the state will have trouble finding money to pay for food assistance Medicaid and other programs for the poor," Steve Carmody reports

14 Michigan universities to benefit as Wayne State forfeits state funding

"Wayne State University's decision to raise tuition at a rate above a cap for performance funding set by the state Legislature is benefiting Michigan's other public universities. State Budget Director John Nixon formally notified the Detroit school earlier this month that it was forfeiting $534,700 in performance funding because of the 8.9 percent increase. The money has been divided among the state's other 14 public universities," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday. The day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, columnist for MLIVE.com

This week, a bill that would require welfare recipients to do some kind of community service in order to get cash assistance or a welfare check passed in the Senate.  And another bill related to drug testing and welfare benefits cleared the state House Commerce Committee.

Then, the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference kicks off this weekend with nationally recognized guests including three potential presidential candidates set to speak there. They are Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss Medicaid expansion, Governor Rick Snyder's political status, and the Michigan Tea Party.

Five months ago, Michigan Republicans nearly unseated their state chairman, Bobby Schostak, at their state convention.

Schostak is a successful fundraiser and commercial real estate developer. Until recently, he would have been seen as a hard-core conservative. But he wasn’t hard-core enough for 48 percent of the delegates to their annual state convention.

Those delegates voted for Todd Courser, an accountant and tax attorney from Lapeer. Courser lost that election, but if you saw the public affairs show Off The Record this weekend, it was clear he believes fervently in his own righteousness, and means for his troops to take over the GOP.

Politicians' capacity for embarassment

Aug 15, 2013

There’s an odd story you might have missed from the Upper Peninsula. A member of the Michigan Republican state central committee is facing major felony charges in Wisconsin.

Various press accounts quote police as saying Douglas Sedenquist of Escanaba was arrested five months ago after his wife notified police that he was supposedly stalking her with a high-powered rifle and making suicide threats. His wife left him last year; she said he was physically abusing their daughters.

Police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she now lives, arrested Sedenquist after, police say, he repeatedly refused their orders to put down the rifle or get out of his truck. Instead, he asked them to let him shoot himself. Eventually they were able to arrest him, and now he faces a variety of charges.

I have gone into this in some detail because I haven‘t yet told you the weirdest part about all this. Nobody, so far as I know, is demanding that he step down from his party leadership roles. Sedenquist, by the way, is also vice-chair of the Delta County GOP.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tea Party activists are threatening to put up primary challengers against Republican lawmakers who vote to expand Medicaid in Michigan.

The bill would add hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to the Medicaid rolls under the federal healthcare law.

The legislation cleared the state House last week. The state Senate is likely to take up the legislation this week.

Tea Party groups claim it would be the biggest expansion of state government in more than four decades.  They say Republican votes in favor of the bill warrant a primary challenge next year.

Gov. Snyder's negotiation style in question

Jun 6, 2013

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The state budget is on its way to Governor Snyder for his signature, while there is an investment of $65 million in early education, the Governor did not get three of his major priorities met. Medicaid expansion, transportation funding, and Common Core for K-12 education.

"He [Snyder] can't afford to sort of roll over all the time on the conservative agenda items, where he signs everything they want without getting them [conservatives] to agree to pass some of his high priority items," says Sikkema. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Commentary: Struggle for a Party’s Soul

Jun 3, 2013

There were, in a way, two conferences taking place among the state’s business and political elite on Mackinac Island last week. One was a celebration of Michigan’s comeback from the darkest days of the great recession, and of the new business-friendly climate flourishing under Governor Rick Snyder.

Make no mistake about it: Richard Dale Snyder is the most business-oriented governor this state has had since World War II. That’s in large part because he is a businessman.

He speaks their language. During his closing remarks, the governor sounded like a motivational speaker sent out to fire up a sluggish sales force.  “What’s the role of government?” he asked, answering, “Government exists to give you great customer service!”

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“The Donald” is coming to Oakland County.

The real estate mogul and television star is scheduled to speak today at the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Suburban Collection Showcase convention center in Novi.

Lincoln Day is an annual fundraising event for state and county Republican Party organizations. Tickets to the meal start at $750.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

  Who might be the Republicans' best hope of winning Michigan's Senate seat?

Republican strategist Dennis Lennox joined us today.

We asked him why a Republican hasn't jumped into the race yet and who their ideal candidate might be.

Listen to the full interview above.

Gary Johnson

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court has no problem with a Michigan law that bars a presidential candidate from running in the general election after losing in the primary for another political party.

The lawsuit was filed by the Libertarian Party after the secretary of state kept Gary Johnson off the ballot last fall. He'd lost earlier in 2012 as a candidate in Michigan's Republican Party primary.

A three-judge panel at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said Wednesday that Michigan's law is constitutional.

The ruling affirms an earlier decision by Detroit federal Judge Paul Borman.

Tiberius Images / Flickr

Let's talk relationships - political relationships.

Governor Snyder wants $1.2 billion a year for rebuilding of Michigan roads. He has also proposed increased gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, which haven't gone over well with state Republicans.

He's also said he wants to expand Medicaid using money from the federal government under provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which hasn't been warmly received by Republicans either.

So where does this rift leave the Republican party, and what does it say about Governor Snyder and his leadership style?

Medicaid expansion in trouble in Mich. Legislature

Mar 23, 2013
michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder and health advocates have their work cut out for them persuading the GOP-led Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands more residents.

Romney's older brother interested in Levin seat

Mar 9, 2013

The older brother of presidential candidate Mitt Romney is interested in running for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by Carl Levin in 2014.

A state GOP official said Friday that Scott Romney, 71, is exploring his options with potential supporters. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about specific candidates.

An attorney, Scott Romney lost the 1998 nomination for attorney general at the Michigan Republican Party's convention. One of his ex-wives, Ronna, ran for the Senate in 1996 but lost to Levin.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Over the weekend, both the Democratic and Republican parties held their conventions.

The 18-year run for Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer has come to an end. Brewer will be replaced by Lon Johnson, of Kalkaska.

On the other side of the aisle Republican Chairman Bobby Schostak was reelected.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

You can listen to the full Stateside interview above.

Gary Heinlein reports for the Detroit News that "by a 1,370-132 margin" Republicans at their convention in Lansing yesterday approved a plan to change the way Michigan's electoral votes are tallied.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Republicans are sticking with their party leader as the GOP tries to keep complete control of state government in 2014.

Bobby Schostak was narrowly re-elected chairman Saturday at Republicans' state convention in Lansing. He fended off a challenge from tea party enthusiast Todd Courser.

Michigan House Republicans release their 2013-2014 plan

Jan 30, 2013
Tim Martin / mlive.com

Earlier today, Michigan House Republicans announced their plan for  the 2013-2014 legislative session.

They call their plan, "Brighter Days Ahead: 2013-14 House Republican Action Plan for Hard-Working Michigan Taxpayers.

Speaker of the House John Bolger (R-Marshall) said this in their press release this morning:

"We are once again presenting the people we serve with a detailed, common-sense approach to resolving challenges that Michigan's hard-working men and women are facing,"

House Republicans say they plan on tackling the following issues:

States could make sweeping changes to Electoral College

Jan 22, 2013
At the Republican National Convention.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In his commentary this morning, Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry pointed to what he is calling a Republican plan to rig presidential election results.

Currently, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, all of a state’s Electoral College votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in that state.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Democrats and Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure as many of their fellow state residents as possible show up at the polls.

GOP spokeswoman Kelsey Knight says campaign staffers and volunteers are knocking on 200,000 doors and making 500,000 calls in this final week alone to encourage voters to show up. And to vote Republican, of course.

Democrats are doing the same, but they didn't provide specific numbers.

It's not clear what voter turnout will be like in the state, though.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ann Romney is making stops across Michigan Friday. The wife of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney started early at conference center in Hudsonville, just outside of Grand Rapids.

Ann Romney has been doing a lot of campaigning for her husband. So she says she made one “special request” of planners; “Will you please send me to Michigan?”

Standing in front of a “Women for Mitt” banner, Ann Romney held up her hand, pointed to her hometown and confessed her love for the state.

Commentary: Grand Jury Investigation

Aug 29, 2012

Yesterday should have been a day of ultimate triumph for Michigan Republicans. Mitt Romney became the first native Detroiter in history to be nominated for President of the United States.

His wife Ann, another native Michigander, gave a very moving  nationally televised speech to the Republican National Convention, and celebration should have been the word of the day.

Commentary: Michigan and the GOP convention

Aug 27, 2012

If you watch much of the Republican National Convention this week, you’ll be in a tiny minority, even though the delegates are nominating a Michigan native with a famous name for President.

In fact, you may have to work hard at finding a network that carries very much of the convention. If you are under forty you may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when all the networks offered gavel-to-gavel coverage of every minute of both major parties’ conventions. They thought it was their civic duty.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Now that the primary is over, Kent County Republicans are working to get more people to rally behind their nominees.

Even Democrat-turned-Republican State Representative Roy Schmidt Schmidt was among the GOP nominees at a unity rally in Grand Rapids Wednesday night.

He narrowly defeated a write-in candidate who decided to challenge Schmidt in the wake of a criminal investigation into Schmidt's party switch. No charges were brought in the case. However, the Secretary of State's office is still investigating allegations Schmidt violated campaign finance laws.

The week in Michigan politics

Aug 1, 2012
David Defoe / Flickr

Every Wednesday Christina Shockley talks with Jack Lessenberry about the political stories of the week. This week they talked about the republican debates that will be held Thursday and how the U.S. Justice Department is suing Michigan over the failure of some clerks to send absentee ballots to military personnel overseas in time for their votes to be counted. They also talked about campaign finance issues including how the Democratic party wants the IRS to investigate Republican U-S Senate candidate, Clark Durant.  

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