News Story

Political Experience Separates Candidates In 98th District House GOP Primary

Gary Glenn vs. Karl Ieuter

In a tight primary race for the 98th District House GOP seat, candidates Gary Glenn and Karl Ieuter come down similarly on some of the most important issues.

But the backgrounds of the two candidates are divergent.

Glenn has been extensively involved with public policy for years as President of the American Family Association of Michigan, and was employed for a brief time by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in the late 1990s. He also has spent time on the political side of the aisle, as well. He served as a county commissioner in Idaho, and ran as a U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan in 2012. Glenn also a founding board member of the Michigan Freedom to Work coalition, which helped push for a right-to-work law in Michigan. He was president of a ballot campaign committee called, School Choice YES!, and was the leading spokesman for Michigan's Marriage Protection Amendment, which passed in 2004.

Ieuter, who has not run for elected office before, is co-owner of the Ieuter Insurance Group in Midland. But it is he who has landed more endorsements from professional business organizations in Michigan.

Ieuter has been endorsed by the Associated Builders & Contractors of Michigan, Great Lakes Education Project, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Association of Police Organizations and the Michigan Restaurant Association, among others. Glenn's endorsements include Sen. Pat Colbeck, R-Canton, and Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, who were instrumental in passing the state's right-to-work law, as well as a number of tea party activists from across the state. 

The 98th District is located in Mid-Michigan and includes parts of Bay and Midland county. It includes the cities of Midland, Auburn and Pinconning. Based on data from recent elections, the district has a 57 percent Republican base.

Rep. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, has represented the 98th District for three terms and cannot run for that office again due to term limits.

While the candidates tend to agree on some of the major policy issues affecting the state, they have not agreed on the types or number of debates. Glenn has called for at least 6 debates where the candidates engage with each other directly but, so far, only forum-type events have been agreed to by Ieuter.

Michigan Capitol Confidential asked the candidates questions about shifting teachers to 401(k) retirement accounts, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., film subsidies and the state's prevailing wage law.

While state workers began being shifted off of the traditional pension system in 1997, ending future unfunded liabilities, state legislators have not closed the defined benefit system for teachers. The system currently has unfunded liabilities of $25.8 billion. Both Glenn and Ieuter said if elected they would support shifting new employees to a defined contribution plan like the vast majority of private sector workers.

"Any time that we can save taxpayer dollars and make government more effective and efficient, I welcome it," Ieuter said.

Glenn also said he would vote to close the pension system.

Both candidates also agreed that the MEDC, the state agency that spends about $300 million per year on select business subsidies, needs to be reined in or eliminated. If that doesn't happen, both said they would at least demand more transparency.

Glenn added that government should not be "forcing Michigan business owners to compete with new businesses that are subsidized by tax dollars."

Ieuter agreed.

"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."

While lawmakers debate a tax increase, primarily for road improvements, the state is spending $50 million per year subsidizing movie-makers. Both candidates want to eliminate the state film incentive program.

"Once again, our tax code should not pick specific winners and losers, whether specific businesses or industries," Ieuter said.

Glenn said there are better ways to attract industries.

"[The] passing [of] a right-to-work law will have more [of an] impact on attracting movie-makers to Michigan than continued subsidies," Glenn said.

The candidates also agreed on the state prevailing wage law, which mandates union wage scaled be paid on construction work funded by tax dollars and adds an estimated $224 million annually in costs. Both want the law repealed.

"And I'll sponsor the legislation to do so," 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."

Ieuter also said he would vote for repeal.

While Republicans control the state House and Senate, neither has moved on the numerous bills that would get rid of the law mandating higher costs with no better service.

The candidates sat down recently for a forum with a local tea party group. The Midland Daily News documented their responses on other issues.

Editor's note: Michigan Capitol Confidential will be 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.

(Clarification: Information about Glenn's role in Michigan's ballot initiatives for school choice and traditional marriage have been slightly changed since the story's original posting. Also, due to an editing error, the story originally said Glenn was a main organizer in the push to make Michigan a right-to-work state. He was one of many people who worked to bring the law to Michigan.)

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.