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U-M Regents: Gratz considers running while Weiser consolidates support

In the contest for two seats on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, the past month has seen one person declare her interest in running for the office while another has been consolidating support from Republican politicians a year in advance of the Michigan Republican Party's nominating convention.

Ron Weiser has been busy locking up support for his nomination as University of Michigan Regent.
Ron Weiser for Regent Facebook page.

An editorial in Thursday's Detroit News mentioned that Jennifer Gratz, who sued the University of Michigan over its use of affirmative action in admissions, a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, was considering running for a spot on the University of Michigan Board of Regents.

Friday, Grassroots for Weiser, a website supporting the candidacy of Ron Weiser for University of Michigan Board of Regents, reposted a report from Michigan Tea Party News that Weiser, a resident of Ann Arbor who is currently the Republican National Committee’s National Finance Chairman, as well as a former Ambassador to Slovakia and Michigan Republican Party Chair, was "the only candidate for University of Michigan Regent with a presence" at last month's Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.

Both Gratz and Weiser would be attempting to replace two Democratic incumbents, Julia Donovan Darlow and Katherine E. White, both of whom are attorneys from Ann Arbor. Both women were elected in 2006. White is serving a second term, having first been elected in 1998.

Jennifer Gratz

Gratz told the Detroit News that her decision to run depends on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which banned racial preferences in university admissions. Gratz will be attending while the court hears oral arguments on the case Tuesday.

She said that she was not motivated by revenge for not being allowed to attend the university's Ann Arbor campus. Instead, wants to make "institutions like U-M better by being fair in their admissions policies."

Gratz also said that she loves and values the university, as she attended its Dearborn campus and credits the university for curing her brother's life after he was diagnosed with a rare variety of cancer.

She would face personal obstacles should she run, as she would have to spend time away from her husband and their new microbrewery in Fort Myers, Florida. Gratz is no stranger to such sacrifices, as she had a long-distance relationship with her husband while they were living in San Diego as she worked on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

Ron Weiser

Michigan Tea Party News' report included a very positive paragraph about Weiser at the Mackinac conference.

Ron Weiser was the only candidate for University of Michigan Regent with a presence on the Island. Everywhere you looked you saw his Maize and Blue T-shirts and footballs emblazoned with his logo, “Playing offense to defend Freedom to Work”. His party at Horns on Friday night was packed by excited activists and supporters eager to hear Senator Rand Paul and Governor Scott Walker. While other potential candidates for Regent were on the Island, Ambassador Weiser had the only real presence.

Earlier in September, Michigan Tea Party News reported that Weiser had secured the support of all eighteen state senators who had voted against Medicaid expansion. In addition, Grassroots for Weiser reprinted a letter from former U.S. Representative Allen West endorsing Weiser.

In his letter, West wrote "I join with US Senator Rand Paul in supporting Ron Weiser for Regent of the University of Michigan. I know that the University will be well served by Ambassador Weiser and he has my full support."

In addition to West and Paul, Weiser also has the support of Senator Ted Cruz. All three cited Weiser's role in getting Right-To-Work passed as reasons for their endorsements.

This would be the second time Weiser, who is married to Eileen Weiser, a member of the Michigan Board of Education, has sought a seat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. He ran for a nomination last year, but lost at the 2012 Michigan Republican Convention to former congressional candidate Rob Steele of Ann Arbor and previous Regent Dan Horning of Grand Haven, both of whom went on to defeat in November, losing to Mark Bernstein and Shauna Ryder Diggs.