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Michigan Republicans retain incumbents at 2014 convention

The specter of previous conventions hung over last Saturday's Michigan Republican State Convention, where an incumbent office-holder such as Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley of Portland losing his position seemed like a distinct possibility. History was on the side of an upset.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, here seen answering questions at the Detroit Institute of Arts, had his Lieutenant Governor renominated at last Saturday's Republican State Convention.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, here seen answering questions at the Detroit Institute of Arts, had his Lieutenant Governor renominated at last Saturday's Republican State Convention.
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

In 2010, incumbent Michigan State University Trustee Don Nugent failed to be re-nominated at that year's convention. Incumbents were turned out twice at conventions in 2012. First, State Representative Dave Agema replaced Saul Anuzis as Michigan's representative to the Republican National Committee. Then, incumbent State Board of Education Member Nancy Danhof lost her seat at the 2012 convention. Finally, the 2013 convention featured a leadership struggle in which Michigan GOP Chair Bobby Schostak narrowly retained his office against a Tea Party insurgency led by Todd Courser.

Nothing like that came to pass at this year's convention, as Calley's rival Wes Nakagiri of Hartland moved to have Calley re-nominated for Lieutenant Governor by unanimous acclamation, so that the Michigan Republicans can “unite and defeat the Democrats” as quoted by the Detroit Free Press. All the other incumbent office holders chosen at the convention from Attorney General and Secretary of State to Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court were also renominated unanimously.

The only real drama arose from the nominations for the governing boards of the state's research universities and the Michigan Board of Education, none of which involved sitting Republican members.

While Rob Steele of Superior Township, who had run for the office in 2012, was easily re-nominated, former Regent Dan Horning of Grand Haven, who had been nominated in 2012, fell behind former Ambassador to Slovakia Ron Weiser of Ann Arbor by a margin that the Ann Arbor News reported as less than 200 votes. State Party Treasurer Carl Meyers came in fourth.

Weiser had been working hard for his nomination for at least a year, locking up endorsements from all eighteen state senators who had opposed Medicaid expansion, along with the support of Tea Party favorites such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, and former Representative Allen West.

On his campaign's Facebook page, Weiser wrote, "Thank you Michigan Republican Delegates for your trust. On to November."

The nominees for State Board of Education also faced some opposition, as MLive reported that former State Representative Leon Drolet passed out literature accusing Maria Carl of Macomb of anti-Semitism. Despite this insinuation, Carl earned a nomination along with Jon Williams of Jackson.

The nominees for the other two university governing boards were the same as 2012. Former Michigan State University Trustee Melanie Foster, who lost her seat in the 2012 general election, was re-nominated along with fellow 2012 nominee Jeff Sakwa. Michael Busuito and Satish Jasti were repeat nominees for the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

The rest of the Republican slate includes incumbents Bill Schuette for Attorney General, Ruth Johnson for Secretary of State, and Supreme Court Justices David Viviano and Brian Zahra. Kent County Circuit Court Judge James Robert Redford joins Viviano and Zahra as the third nominee for Michigan Supreme Court. All of them will run on a ticket including incumbent Governor Rick Snyder of Ann Arbor, Lieutenant Governor Calley, and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.