Michigan Capitol Confidential today reports that two Republicans running for open state House seats have been endorsed by the Michigan Education Association in the coming general election. They are:
- State House candidate Mike Callton of Nashville, 87th District, which has a 59.7 percent Republican base.
- State House candidate Peter MacGregor of Rockford, 73rd district, which has a 64 percent Republican base.
This means it's all but certain that two of the most solidly Republican districts in the state will be represented next year by individuals who the school employee union expects to at least be open to voting in a manner acceptable to itself. That may prove interesting should Governor-presumpt Snyder propose some charter school expansion legislation or school employee benefits reform, both of which are fairly likely.
Mr. Callton is a county commissioner who won a three-way primary in the 87th district, 47 percent to 27 percent to 27 percent. The other two candidates were a county commissioner (who also appears quite friendly to the public school establishment) and a city council member.
Mr. MacGregor is a township supervisor and former planning commission member who took 27 percent in a nine-way GOP primary. The first runner-up with 15 percent is a school board president and union official who ran as a Democrat in 2008, and third place was taken by a Realtor who supports a part time legislature (MacGregor opposes it).
These are general-election endorsements, but starting back in the mid-1990s the MEA also began inserting itself into Republican primary elections, and has been fairly successful with the tactic. "MEA Republicans" prevented several attempts by former Gov. John Engler to lift a cap on the number of charter schools. They were countered after a few years by political group reportedly funded by the DeVos family called the "Great Lakes Education Project," which made an issue of these teacher union endorsements, notifying GOP primary voters in MEA-targeted districts of which candidates were more or less likely to support school reform if elected.
In the two-year legislative session now coming to an end, House Republicans supported by the union with cash or general election endorsements helped Democrats defeat a three-percent school aid cut in the 2009-2010 budget, and last spring union-supported Senate Republicans helped strip-out money-saving school pension reforms from legislation proposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
All this is just another reminder to Tea Party and other reform-minded voters that Nov. 2 is a starting line, not a finish line.