News Story

Some Tea Partiers Gunning For Republican Senate Majority Leader

Sen. Richardville out of sync on 'right-to-work' and 'forced unionization'?

According to news reports, some individuals associated with the Tea Party movement have publicly called for a recall campaign against State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe. One of the issues cited is Richardville's stated opposition to right-to-work legislation.

Sen. Richardville's position on that issue appears to be at odds with most of the Senate Republicans who chose him for the leadership position. As earlier reported by CapCon, 17 of the 26 Republicans who now hold the majority in the 38-member state Senate have already voted for a right-to-work measure while serving previous terms in the state House. Five current Senate Republicans were not in the House when these votes took place: Colbeck, Jansen, Kahn, Nofs and Pappageorge.

Twenty votes are needed to pass a bill. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley — whose vote breaks Senate ties — has also voted for right-to-work measures in the House.  

Some other voting record analyses suggest that Sen. Richardville has been among the most “moderate” of Republicans. For example, the MIRS news service compiles an annual “most conservative” ranking based on votes from the past year. For 2010, only two Republicans in the Senate had a ranking more "liberal" than Richardville’s 70 percent on selected "conservative" votes. For 2009, only six GOP senators came in below his 74 percent “conservative” record.

Richardville was selected to be leader by his Republican Senate colleagues at the start of 2011, and under his leadership the body has failed to vote on a House-passed bill to stop the transfer of $28 million from home health care providers to the SEIU  (see CapCon “skimTRACKER”). In 2009, Sen. Richardville co-sponsored a bill that would have given explicit statutory authorization to this practice.

Past CapCon articles have noted other positions taken by Sen. Richardville likely to put him at odds with limited government Tea Party groups:

  • While Gov. Rick Snyder has capped the previously unlimited state film subsidy program at $25 million annually, Richardville said that amount of money “isn’t enough” and that he was working to increase it to $100 million.
  • In 2009, Richardville voted with Senate Republicans to block drivers license renewal after three unpaid parking tickets. The bill was criticized as ineffective and simply a way for state government to get money to fund other programs. Many legislators eventually recanted their vote.
  • In 2007, the Legislature approved a $1.358 billion tax hike. While Sen. Richardville voted against the tax hike, he supported the vast majority of the new spending paid for by the tax hike.

Sen. Richardville has also raised Republican and Tea Party eyebrows by receiving several thousand dollars in campaign contributions from the Michigan Education Association teachers union.

On the other hand, Sen. Richardville voted with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce 91 percent of the time in 2011 and has long maintained that he is a conservative.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.