A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Michigan Capitol Confidential is reporting and writing about key primary races leading up to the election on Aug. 5. The series of stories are designed to provide readers with some insight into candidates who have said they support free market issues. The stories are not endorsements and readers are encouraged to give every candidate a serious look before the election.

Here are the races covered so far (this page will be updated through the election):

Kowall Maddock Molnar

No Shortage of Issues To Attack On In Michigan's 15th District Senate Primary — Sen. Mike Kowall, Matt Maddock and Ron Molnar

“My opponent Mike Kowall was one of the eight Senate Republicans who voted for Medicaid expansion; is that representing Republican principles?” Matt Maddock asked. “He voted (unofficially) to increase the gas tax by 44 cents; is that standing up for Republican principles? He voted for the Detroit bailout; is that standing up for Republican principles? Mike Kowall is eligible to seek one more term in the Senate, but he’s already acting and voting like a lobbyist.”

“This race is basically about keeping Michigan on the right track,” Sen. Mike Kowall said. “Under the leadership of Gov. Rick Snyder and Brooks Paterson, we’ve turned things around. I see it here in Oakland County where our unemployment numbers are down to pre-recession levels. But it is extremely important that we keep going forward, not backward.”

Reilly Jacobsen

Incumbent’s Record Targeted and Defended in Michigan's 46th — Rep. Bradford Jacobsen and John Reilly

“My position is that we need to keep steady, stay on track improving Michigan and get the roads fixed,” said Rep. Bradford Jacobsen.

“I’d say this race is about electing representatives who have deeply held core values — the kind of values we need to guide us and for which Republicans should stand up,” John Reilly said. 

Price Wiedenhoeft

Defining The Primary In Michigan's 89th: Two Candidates, Two Views — Rep. Amanda Price vs. Matthew Wiedenhoeft

“[This campaign] is about generational changing issues my opponent has supported and voted for, like Medicaid expansion, Common Core, the minimum wage increase, the Detroit bailout and the Internet tax,” said Matthew Wiedenhoeft. 

Rep. Amanda Price: “The proof of the progress Michigan has made under the leadership of this Legislature and Governor Snyder is all around us: Unemployment is lower than it has been since 2009; the $1.5 billion dollar deficit is erased; the state budget has been balanced and passed into law early four years straight; we have eliminated burdensome regulations and erased billions of long term debt. With the assistance of a grassroots initiative, Michigan now guarantees that no taxpayer money will be used to fund an abortion. And Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state in the face of tremendous opposition from well-funded and entrenched special interest groups.”

Theis Fiani Rogers Perlberg

Here's Where the Candidates Stand In Michigan's 42nd House Race — Nick Fiani, Rich Perlberg, Dale Rogers and Lana Theis 

Lana Theis: “I don't think government should be in the business of picking winners and losers; the free market (or ‘invisible hand’) is a much better determination of success potential.”

Nick Fiani: “I think it is absolutely necessary that we start shifting new teachers to a 401(k)-type system and phase out the current teacher pension system. In my opinion, the current system is not sustainable nor economically viable."

Rich Perlberg: “It is a foolish policy to promote movies in Michigan; it came at the expense of killing the Michigan promise in order to pay off Hollywood movies. 

Dale Rogers: “YES! YES! YES! to MEDC transparency reforms and NO! NO! NO! to the state of Michigan giving out subsidies and tax credits to select companies.”

Gamrat Schulz

GOP Candidates For Michigan's 80th House District Tackle the Issues — Cindy Gamrat vs. Steve Schulz

“The pension bubble is a big issue and we all saw what happened in Detroit when we ignore that issue,” Cindy Gamrat said.

“I do not believe it is correct for public employees, except those in dangerous professions such as police and fire officers, to have benefits richer than those provided by the average private-sector employer,” Steve Schulz said.

Michigan 13th senateThree Former State Representatives Crowd The Race For Michigan's 13th Senate District — Marty Knollenberg, Chuck Moss, Rocky Raczkowski, Ethan Baker and Al Gui

Marty Knollenberg: “Government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers and given their track record, we need to do away with subsidies and tax credits as they expire. In addition, it is simply unfair that the 'elite' benefit at the expense of taxpayers and the little guy.”

Rocky Raczkowski: “I would have also supported [shifting employees to a 401(k)] to be part of any vote on the Detroit 'Grand Bargain.’ This is one of the issues that have added to the bankruptcy of our largest Michigan cities, and this issue must be dealt with, otherwise it will lead to more issues with financial emergencies amongst our public sector local governments.”

Chuck Moss: “I believe prevailing wage should have been repealed in 2012, when right-to-work was passed. I proudly voted for right-to-work, and would have happily voted to repeal prevailing wage at the same time. That way the [protesting] mob could have saved on gasoline and travel expenses.” 

Ethan Baker: “The prevailing wage law should absolutely be repealed! It will save Michigan taxpayers $400 million a year. Repeal it.”

Al Gui: “[MEDC programs] lead to a lack of a code of conduct which translates to shadowy contracts and money mismanagement.”

Mitchell Moolenaar

Pricey GOP Primary Race For Michigan’s 4th Congressional District — State Sen. John Moolenaar and retired businessman Paul Mitchell

“What [people] want is lower health care premiums; protection of Medicare benefits for seniors, and a plan that strengthens the doctor-patient relationship and keeps their private information private,” Sen. John Moolenaar said. “We can accomplish the kind of health care reform the American people want without having a government takeover of our health care system, without raising taxes or premiums, and without forcing citizens to buy health insurance they do not want and cannot afford.” 

“I believe there are private-sector alternatives to the Export-Import Bank that would be a step in the right direction in reducing the size and scope of our federal government,” Paul Mitchell said. “By ending federal support and operation of this entity, the private sector would assume responsibility for this piece of our trade system as well as taking on any risks associated with it.”

Foster Chatfield

Incumbent’s Voting Record, Philosophy Challenged In Michigan's 107th — Rep. Frank Foster vs. Lee Chatfield

“This race is all about my voting record,” Rep. Frank Foster said. “I have spent the past four years working hard to improve the economy . . . it’s on the climb. I campaigned on eliminating the personal property tax and the job-killing Michigan Business Tax and I’ve accomplished those things. I’ve voted to cut the income tax. We’ve invested more money into roads. We passed right-to-work in Michigan.”

“My opponent voted for Medicaid expansion, adding to the community of people who are in the program and accelerating spending,” Lee Chatfield said. “It is the biggest expansion since the 1960s. To me, putting more people on a welfare program should not be considered a success. Success should be measured by how many people get off. He also voted to authorize Common Core. We need education curriculum, but it shouldn’t be based on one-size fits all and making teachers teach to a test. I also oppose his vote in favor of the Internet tax.”

Rathburn Miller

Educators Facing Off In Michigan's 59th House District — Superintendent Roger Rathburn vs. teacher Aaron Miller

“Pension programs must be sustainable,” Roger Rathburn said. “Defined-contribution plans make sense while defined-benefit plans do not. The defined-contribution plan is an individual account which doesn’t leave anyone on the hook for expenses down the road.”

“The problem is the words, ‘select companies,’” Aaron Miller said. “Who is doing the selecting? How is it fair? How do we know that some other company does not deserve those subsidies more?”

Ohagan Kesto

Stances on Corporate Welfare a Difference In Michigan's 39th House Race — Rep. Klint Kesto vs. Deb O'Hagan

“I believe I would support legislation that would enable local governments to be more responsible with their pension programs, and if changing the type of account from defined benefit to defined contribution is the solution, then I would be in support of that policy,” Kesto said.

“I would support closing the unsustainable current pension system to new employees and offering defined-contribution type accounts instead,” O’Hagan said. “This system is better for both the public schools and the employees. The schools know their financial obligations up front and are forced to responsibly fund them in the year incurred, while employee's retirement benefits are protected in their own personal account and cannot be whisked away by another 'need' or a bankruptcy court!”

McMillin Biship

Michigan 8th Congressional District GOP Primary Getting Feisty — Former Sen. Mike Bishop vs. State Rep. Tom McMillin

“I am the House leader in opposing corporate welfare and government subsidies that usually end up costing the tax payers millions more than any benefit to the state,” Tom McMillin said. “My opponent voted for all of these corporate subsidies paid for by Michigan taxpayers, such wind power, film subsidies …”

“During my time in the Michigan Legislature, I built a record on finding solutions; working with Republicans and Democrats to achieve tangible, conservative reforms," Mike Bishop said. "My opponent has spent many years either being unable or unwilling to work with either side of the aisle to get things done. It takes more to achieve reforms than voting ‘no’ out of principle.”

Glenn IeuterPolitical Experience Separates Candidates In 98th District House GOP Primary — Gary Glenn vs. Karl Ieuter

"All of government needs to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers," Ieuter said. "Government should not be picking winners and losers but creating an overall business climate that supports job creation and builds stronger families and communities."

"I'll sponsor the legislation to [eliminate prevailing wage]," Glenn said. "That would be an estimated quarter-billion dollars a year that could be spent on the children inside the classroom instead of on artificially inflated costs for putting up the classroom."

Lyons RigasIncumbent Voting Record Targeted In 86th District House Primary Race — Lisa Posthumus Lyons vs. Angela Rigas

"The way I see it, this race is about experience, leadership and results," Rep. Lyons said. "I'm proud to have helped lead a Republican-led Legislature that has seen Michigan's economy turn the corner.”

"I believe this race is about bringing accountability back to the Legislature and common sense back to government," Rigas said. "My opponent claims she is a conservative, but if she really was she wouldn't have voted 'yes' on Medicaid expansion, the Detroit bailout, the minimum wage increase, the Internet tax and the senior pension tax.

Green DaleyContrast Over Right-to-Work, Film Subsidies, Detroit Bailout In 31st District Senate Race — State Sen. Mike Green vs. State Rep. Kevin Daley

"He (Rep. Daley) has voted for the film credits about every time." Sen. Green said. "In my opinion, the film credits are a waste. According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, they haven't created any jobs. I don't think we should be giving a penny toward the film credits.” 

"He (Sen. Green) voted against right-to-work and he did that after saying he'd vote for it," Rep. Daley said. "There’s even a video of him saying he would. He also voted for the Obamacare exchange. I'm totally against Obamacare and believe we should stay as far away from it as we can.

Schmidt MacMasterSelect Business Subsidies, Endorsements Are Differences In 37th District Senate GOP Primary — State Rep. Wayne Schmidt vs. State Rep. Greg MacMaster

"The organizations and people in Lansing who support me do so because of the people and businesses in Northern Michigan who support me," Rep. Schmidt said. "It starts up here. When you see the support I have in Lansing it's really the people of this district who are speaking."

"There's no doubt about it, this race is Lansing versus the people of Northern Michigan," Rep. MacMaster said. "My opponent is receiving strong support from Lansing because of the way he votes. I feel the support I'm receiving in the district is very positive and solid. I think that's because people know I'll represent them — not Lansing."

Amash Ellis'He's Just Making That Up' - No Shortage of Attacks In 3rd Congressional District GOP Primary — Congressman Justin Amash vs. Brian Ellis

"He (Ellis) was appointed to the Michigan's Strategic Fund board by Gov. Jennifer Granholm," Rep. Amash said. "While there, he voted in favor of everything for which she asked. He favors corporate welfare. The chambers of commerce aren't endorsing me because they're all for corporate welfare and subsidies, and I am strongly opposed to those things. He supports Medicaid expansion in Michigan and he supports Common Core." 

"He represents himself as one thing in the district, but he hasn't been voting that way and he hasn't been voting the way the district would want him to vote," Ellis said. "He voted against the Balanced Budget Amendment, he voted against the 20 percent tax cut for small businesses and he voted with President Obama on closing the Guantanamo Bay terrorist facility."

Two women have hit the trail trying to get term limits passed in the city of Grand Rapids. Their efforts could be a barometer of public sentiment as some Lansing politicians discuss the merits of eliminating term limits for state lawmakers.


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