Hernandez Balances Dixon With Legislature, Grassroots
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon on Friday announced that she has selected former Rep. Shane Hernandez of Port Huron as her running mate in the 2022 general election, hoping the selection will sit well with grassroots activists and the legislators with whom she’ll have to work closely should she be elected over incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The candidate announced her pick Friday afternoon after submitting Mr. Hernandez’s name to Michigan Republican Party leadership, which was due at 5 p.m. She beat that deadline by about an hour.

In a statement, Ms. Dixon said Mr. Hernandez "will help to improve our schools, create safer communities, and improve our economy."

"Like me, Shane is concerned about the impact rising prices are having on our families," the candidate said. "Shane and I will put front-and-center the issues families care about: rising costs created by the Democrats’ inflation, dangerous communities exacerbated by Gretchen Whitmer’s siding with the ‘spirit’ of defund the police, and a perpetually weak economy that Gretchen Whitmer is simply incapable of doing anything about. I am confident delegates will embrace Shane and united, we will defeat Gretchen Whitmer in November."

In a statement also circulated by Ms. Dixon’s campaign, Mr. Hernandez said he was honored to be her pick for lieutenant governor and was ready "to address the problems created by Gretchen Whitmer."

"Her vision is the right one for Michigan and I believe we will defeat Whitmer and begin to repair the damage she’s caused to our families, students, and business owners," he added.

Should he be selected by convention delegates and eventually elected along with Ms. Dixon, the party would have two verifiable firsts – the first Republican woman elected as governor and the first Latino lieutenant governor, ever.

Mr. Hernandez was the chair of the House Appropriations Committee  during his time in office, in which he served two terms from 2017-20 before running in 2020 for the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost the Republican primary to now-U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Township).

Mr. Hernandez did not respond to a request for further comment on his selection to be offered up for nomination as lieutenant governor.

One Republican source, speaking on background, said Mr. Hernandez’s name was on a shortlist from the beginning. Others got serious consideration, this source said, but ultimately Mr. Hernandez’s strength on policy won out. Among the other names that got bandied about at various point were former U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, Rep. Julie Alexander of Hanover and Macomb County Clerk Tony Forlini.

Now that a name has been submitted to the party, it is up to the delegates to decide at the upcoming August 27 convention. That may or may not be a fight on the convention floor, depending on whether the delegates back Ms. Dixon’s choice of Mr. Hernandez.

On Friday, Republican Garrett Soldano, who lost the Republican primary for governor to Ms. Dixon, said he is considering offering himself as an alternative to Mr. Hernandez.

"I appreciate all the support and messages I have received regarding a possible run for Lieutenant Governor at convention next week," he said in a Facebook post. "I will take these next few days and talk it over with Jennifer and the kids and stay in prayer. I will continue to do my best and do what is right for our state, but more importantly, for the PEOPLE in our state.

God bless you, God bless the State of Michigan and God bless the United States."

GOP Party Chair Ron Weiser declined to comment on the selection when asked Friday by Gongwer News Service. Party spokesperson Gustavo Portela did not respond to a request for comment but told Axios that the cycle would be historic for Michigan Republicans.

"This is a historic cycle for Michigan Republicans nominating their first female gubernatorial candidate, a potential first lieutenant governor candidate if confirmed and three Black candidates for congress," he said.

Per the party’s convention rules, the winner of the gubernatorial nomination is permitted to submit the name of a candidate for the office of lieutenant governor no later than 5 p.m. Friday. From there, the chosen individual files an affidavit of candidacy with a filing fee equal to 3 percent of the annual salary of the office of the lieutenant governor at the same time.

If Mr. Hernandez doesn’t receive an affirmative vote from the convention floor delegates, Ms. Dixon can have the choice of either addressing the convention’s delegates on why they should choose her pick or submit a new candidate for consideration. If the second nomination fails, or if the new candidate also fails to receive an affirmative vote, nominations can be sent from the floor, as well as Ms. Dixon, giving her a third and final shot to get Mr. Hernandez over the finish line with delegates.

The candidate who receives a majority of the votes is declared elected by the convention. If there are more than two candidates nominated and none of them receive a majority of votes on the first ballot, the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall duke it out in a run-off second ballot.

Although the delegates typically concur with the gubernatorial nominee’s choice for lieutenant governor, there have been times when the party’s grassroots activists have gone against the grain and put forward an opposing candidate.

In 2010, the convention’s delegates were poised to nominate Bill Cooper over then-Republican nominee Rick Snyder’s pick, Brian Calley, but convention managers muscled Mr. Calley through. In 2014 when then-Lt. Governor Brian Calley faced a convention fight over his nomination when the grassroots and tea party factions of the MIGOP attempted to install Wes Nakagiri as the running mate of then-Governor Rick Snyder. In that instance, the Snyder-Calley forces were ready and assured they had their people in place to win the county convention races to elect state convention delegates, and Mr. Calley won comfortably.

The activists failed to oust Mr. Calley, but the memory of those fights still looms for many in the party even though there was no such fight in 2018 when Bill Schuette picked Lisa Posthumus Lyons as his running mate and the convention assented without a battle.

Whether that’s the case with Mr. Hernandez is an open question, but his record appears to be strong on issues that resonate with the Michigan GOP base like election integrity, the Second Amendment and abortion. He also came up in the ranks of the Republican Party as a grassroots activist and worked to pass a budget during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which some said Friday helps him check off all the respective grassroots boxes – including Rep. Matt Hall of Comstock Township.

"We all recognize that one of the important things for her is having someone with legislative experience on the ticket, somebody who could preside over the Senate, somebody similar to the role Brian Calley played for Governor Snyder; somebody who knows how to make deals with the Legislature and navigate the legislative process," Mr. Hall said in an interview. "I think when you look at people who have legislative experience and you look at the makeup of the state convention delegates – which has understandably moved more conservative in response to a lot of those things that Governor Whitmer has done – and you look at Shane, I think he’s about the only person who could balance legislative experience with being responsive to the grassroots."

Mr. Hall added that Mr. Hernandez was hailed as one of the more conservative members of the House when he was in office and routinely ranked high on lists detailing the conservative credentials of state lawmakers. He was also one of the candidates elected during the tea party wave and was effective in his caucus, Mr. Hall said.

Mr. Hernandez was among legislators who called for a "full forensic audit" of the 2020 election results, was strong on conservative gun policy and was either the sponsor or co-sponsor on several abortion related bills, including a fetal heartbeat bill and a partial-birth abortion ban that were both introduced in 2017 but went nowhere in the House.

Mr. Hall also said that Mr. Hernandez was strong on cutting taxes, an advocate for fewer regulations and was against corporate welfare.

"He can relate to these delegates, and he has a pretty good record on the issues that matter to them," he said. "But he’s able to do it in a way where he still has the respect of legislators. Even ones like me. We didn’t always vote the same way on everything, but he was always somebody that could do it and have the respect of everyone whether you voted with him or not."

John Sellek of Harbor Strategic Public Affairs told Gongwer that the number one goal of choosing a running mate is to avoid "unforced errors" and that Ms. Dixon’s selection bodes well in that regard.

"This appears to be a solid pick of someone both with deep knowledge of the state budget and the GOP street cred of having come up from the grassroots of the party," Mr. Selleck said. "Dixon can now finish getting ready for the convention and begin the general election campaign."

Former gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley said he was considering putting his name forward at convention, as was Ralph Rebandt, but Mr. Kelley announced Friday that he would no longer seek or accept the nomination for lieutenant governor via delegates at convention.

He did, however, make insinuations that he would consider political office or even a go at party leadership after he was done working to defeat the abortion and elections ballot proposals in play, should they be approved for the November 8 ballot.

Michigan Democratic Party Lavora Barnes said in a statement that she believes Mr. Hernandez is "cut from the same dangerous cloth as DeVos sellout Tudor Dixon."

"Backed by the same special interests that helped drag Dixon through the primary, Hernandez has made banning abortion without exceptions a priority throughout his career," Ms. Barnes said. "Michigan working families deserve leadership that works for them, but Dixon and Hernandez will be catering to the special interests as they work hand-in-hand to dismantle public education, slash funding for infrastructure and law enforcement, and drag Michigan backwards."

Term Limits Question Set to Appear as Proposal 1 on November Ballot
Constitutional ballot language was officially accepted and deemed Proposition 22-1 by the State Board of Canvassers today.

Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater said he wrote the 100-word preview for ballot proposal 22-1 similar, “but not identical” to the language agreed to by the State Board of Canvassers when the Voters for Transparency and Term Limits filed to have the petition language approved. 

Brater said the Legislature submitted a summary with the passed bill that was 110 words and wanted that for the question submitted to the canvassers.

“The board here is the body that should decide what is described to the voters, not the interested party,” Patrick Anderson said.

Anderson, who opposes the ballot initiative, offered his own 100-word summary that changed a few words, but he said at the beginning of his rebuttal that he was largely in favor of what Brater had written.

Steve Liedel, a lawyer representing Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, was also largely in favor of what Brater had written, but also tried to get the board to change some of the words in the ballot proposal.

“The legislative summary is a fair statement of the purpose of the constitutional amendment.  Ask yourself, ‘Who’s a better judge of the intent of the legislative proposal than the Legislature who passed it?’” Liedel said. 

Kurt O’Keefe, who had previously said the proposal was “like putting lipstick on a pig,” said the Legislative passed proposal was worse.

“The Legislature scraped off most of the lipstick leaving only a thin veneer,” O’Keefe said. “They left the pig intact, because that’s what they want.”

The three present board members voted to pass the version Brater wrote, which states: 

“A proposal to amend the state constitution to require annual public financial disclosure reports by legislators and other state officers and change state legislator term limit to 12 total years in legislature 

This proposed constitutional amendment would: 

• Require members of legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023, including assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements, and positions held in organizations except religious, social, and political organizations. 

• Require legislature implement but not limit or restrict reporting requirements. 

• Replace current term limits for state representatives and state senators with a 12-year total limit in any combination between house and senate, except a person elected to senate in 2022 may be elected the number of times allowed when that person became a candidate.”

Michigan Gets $1.6M Federal Grant For Light Rail Projects
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the Michigan Department of Transportation was awarded $1.6 million to help improve and upgrade intercity passenger trains.

The award will be used for the Michigan Accelerated Raid Bridge Reconstruction Project and primarily fund the preparation of engineering documents and environmental impact studies for rebuilding five deficient bridge structures between Dearborn and Kalamazoo.

“I am proud of the Michigan Department of Transportation for winning these competitive grants that will benefit both passenger and freight trains that use this vital route.  These resources will help us continue growing Michigan’s economy, supporting good-paying jobs, and investing in every region of our great state,” Whitmer said.

The train route is used by Wolverine and Blue Water Services passenger trains and Norfolk Southern Railroad freight trains. 

The project will let the state avoid bridge closures, improve reliability of service, increase the load a train can carry, and help maintain existing speeds and trip times.

“Amtrak provides an important link between Kalamazoo and the Detroit area and on to Chicago and points west. Ensuring these bridges remain in service and trains can at least maintain current speeds is critical to the viability of passenger rail service in Michigan. Ultimately, this should help with getting high-speed rail across Michigan,” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R) said.

Amtrak and MDOT will match 25% of the grant.


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