Lt. Gov. Brian Calley surprised no one when he announced Tuesday he would seek the Republican nomination for governor and try to become the first Number Two in Michigan’s executive office in a half-century to ascend to Number One.
Calley made clear in his long-anticipated announcement that he would not run from the record of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, which he says has resulted in lower unemployment and economic growth following the Great Recession.
“We’re Number One in manufacturing job growth across the country,” Calley said following a factory tour in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming. “We’ve balanced budgets and paid down debt, and saved for the future, and made strategic investments, and it’s paying off now.”
“Now, it’s all about keeping the comeback going, but building on the foundation that has been laid, taking Michigan to the next level,” said Calley.
Snyder, on the same tour, stopped short of a formal endorsement, but made it plain he intended for Calley to succeed him when he tapped the then-legislator as his running mate in 2010.
“I think people who know me well know that I was trying to think as far ahead as I could,” said Snyder, “and I was trying to see, is this a great person who could be a successor some day, and not just a successor, but someone who could build and do things better than I had ever done.”
But Snyder’s popularity has suffered in recent years, largely as the result of the Flint water crisis.
Calley suggested that one of his Republican rivals was trying to capitalize on that crisis. Calley told The Detroit News that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette would never have filed criminal charges related to the water crisis and a fatal outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease if Schuette were not running for governor.
Schuette responded that he’s not the one playing politics with the Flint tragedy, and any future aspirations had “zero, none, not one bit” to do with the decision to prosecute 15 state and local officials.
“The families of Flint, they shouldn’t be used as some political chessboard items, and the fact is this is about delivering justice,” he told the Michigan Public Radio Network.
The charges include willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office. Two high-ranking state health officials are charged with manslaughter related to one of a dozen deaths attributed to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.
The Republican field also includes state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton Twp.) and Saginaw-area doctor Jim Hines. The Republican primary will take place in August of 2018.