By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette landed a major business endorsement Thursday and announced his campaign’s first TV ads — one that touts his support from President Donald Trump and another that criticizes GOP rival Brian Calley.
The 30-second ads, which will begin airing Friday, come a week after Calley started running his own ads and days after Calley was officially endorsed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who cannot run because of term limits. It is another sign that the race is intensifying 4½ months before August’s primary election.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business organization, endorsed Schuette after interviewing candidates earlier in the day. President and CEO Rich Studley said Schuette, the state attorney general, has “an independent track record of accomplishment” and the “ability and determination to hit the ground running from day one” as governor.
Of the ads, Schuette senior campaign strategist John Sellek said: “In this primary Republicans have a choice between a consistent, steadfast conservative in Bill Schuette, who has been endorsed by the president and vice president, or someone like Brian Calley, who repeatedly failed the test of standing up to damaging liberal policies when it mattered most,” said Schuette senior campaign strategist John Sellek.
Calley campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said Schuette “looks pathetic in panic mode throwing his slime,” and Calley will continue to focus on Michigan’s “comeback” that has led to 540,000 new jobs and rising incomes.
One ad shows footage from Schuette’s campaign launch last fall, in which he says he will be the “jobs governor” and end a decade-old income tax increase enacted by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. A narrator lauds Schuette’s endorsement from Trump and calls Schuette “the strong leader who can defeat the Granholm liberals.”
The other ad targets Calley, the lieutenant governor, for helping to pass a business tax as a lawmaker and fighting “to bring more Obamacare to Michigan.” Calley has supported Michigan’s expansion of Medicaid to nearly 700,000 adults under the Snyder administration.
The ad also says Calley “deserted” Trump — a reference to him withdrawing his support a month before the 2016 presidential election over an audio recording in which Trump made crude comments about groping women. The move, according to the ad, effectively helped Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “with the White House and Supreme Court hanging on the line.”
The Schuette campaign declined to say how much it is spending to air the ads or where they will run, though it appeared they will appear on cable stations and not network stations with broader reach.
Also seeking the Republican nomination are conservative state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines, a self-funded candidate who has run some ads, though to a lesser extent that Calley, who is airing ads on broadcast stations. Democratic candidates include former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer — who won a big endorsement from the United Auto Workers union this week — self-funding businessman Shri Thanedar, ex-Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and retired business executive Bill Cobbs.