PRIMARY ELECTION: Who will advance to governor's race?


governor cadidates mpa conference

The republican and democrats for governor of Michigan at the Michigan Press Association conference

Four republicans, three democrats, and two libertarians are competing in the Aug. 7 primary election fighting to earn a spot on the November general election ballot. Despite political differences, they all have one thing in common: Each wants to be Michigan's next governor.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is wrapping up his second and final term. Before him, the position was held by Democrat Jennifer Granholm. 

Here is a look at the candidates who want the chance to earn a huge win for one of their parties and for the chance to shape Michigan's future. 

Republicans  

Bill Schuette



Attorney General Bill Schuette has been involved in politics for more than 30 years. He has worked as a state senator, Congressman, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and served as a Michigan Court of Appeals judge. During his time as attorney general, he formed the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking and helped to fund the testing of abandoned DNA evidence boxes to help victims of sexual assault receive justice. 

Schuette graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and studied at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He received his law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

According to Schuette’s campaign website, he is "fighting against Barack Obama" and corruption. He said he is also working to provide aid to crime victims, single moms and tax payers. Among his plans for his time as governor, Schuette wants to make Michigan the “Jobs State” by cutting taxes and regulations.

“I believe the continuation of Granholm’s income tax hike is a big reason our state is still 250,000 lost jobs in the hole from when the Lost Decade began. We need to get those jobs back and start by cutting your taxes,” Schutte wrote in an April column for the Detroit News.

Schuette wants to place an emphasis on improving Michigan’s public schools test scores, specifically reading. His website details the 10-step GROW reading program that he hopes will increase literacy in Michigan.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and former Congresswoman Candice Miller are just a few of the people who endorse Schuette for governor of Michigan. Schuette’s endorsements also include the Right to Life of Michigan PAC, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Police Officers Association of Michigan. 

Brian Calley


Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley began his political career while working as a community banker. During that time, he served two terms on the Ionia County Board of Commissioners. Calley was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2007-11. In 2010, he was elected as the Lieutenant Governor, making him the youngest person to hold the position in the country.

Since 2010, Calley said he has worked with Governor Snyder to cut taxes and create jobs for Michigan residents. He led the Mental Health and Wellness Commission, the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force and the Mental Health Diversion Council. 

Calley’s campaign website states he wants to address tax reform and increasing jobs and population in Michigan. His campaign has also emphasized “focusing on Flint” by planning on improving its healthcare, education, nutrition and infrastructure. Calley plans to work to end the opioid epidemic by making sure everyone is educated on the risks.

“Over half the opioid addictions in the past seven years have started with prescription medicine,” Calley said to the Oakland Press. “It’s amazing how many people start their addiction out of a friend or family member’s medicine cabinet. This is a huge risk. People need safe and secure ways to dispose of these drugs.”

Calley is a nationally-recognized Autism advocate. He reformed Michigan’s insurance code to increase access to Autism services and chaired the Special Education Task force to improve special education in Michigan.

Calley received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. He holds an MBA from Grand Valley State University and an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Stanford University.

In addition to Snyder, several political leaders in Southeast Michigan, including State Rep. Michael Webber and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, endorse Calley. 

Jim Hines


Dr. Jim Hines is an obstetrician and has been working in the medical field for more than 30 years. He has never held elected office. He was the chief of medical staff at Covenant Healthcare and the national president of the Christian Medical & Dental Association.

Hines graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1980 and completed two residencies in family medicine and private practice before traveling with his wife as missionaries. As a missionary doctor, Hines ran two mission hospitals and 20 Urgent Care facilities for four years in the Central African Republic. "He has spent his life putting people first, not politics," according to his campaign website.

Hines' campaign platform focuses on four main issues: improving Michigan's job climate, "putting children first," protecting the environment and fixing infrastructure. As governor, he plans to fix the roads, put more effort into protecting the Great Lakes and improving schools and the common core curriculum.  

During his campaign, Hines emphasized that college needs to be more affordable. Although he hasn't laid out a plan detailing exactly how he will do so, he has said he will encourage dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to earn college credit cost-free and promote other programs.

"As governor of Michigan, I will promote scholarships, internships, apprenticeships and other creative solutions to keep Michigan higher education available and affordable," Hines said on his blog.

Patrick Colbeck


State Sen. Patrick Colbeck  has worked in the private sector for more than 20 years. He has experience in the aerospace, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, information technology and financial services fields. Colbeck is an aerospace engineer who has worked with Boeing to design systems to help humans live in space. In 2007 he launched Tek Made Easy, a web hosting services company that he ran for six years. 

In 2010, Colbeck was elected to the Michigan Senate, where he served two terms. He proudly acknowledges himself as "the most conservative senator." He led the effort to make Michigan the 24th Right to Work state in the nation. He received the Senator Paul Fannin Statesman of the Year Award for his role.

If he were to be elected, Colbeck hopes to promote job growth, improve the quality of roads and refocus government services on citizens' priorities as opposed to lobbyists. He emphasizes that tax increases should always be considered as the last option. In fact, he wants to eliminate state income tax completely.

"You eliminate the state personal income tax, not only do you eliminate that paperwork, you eliminate things like the senior pension tax, but you also create an economic development incentive.," Colbeck told Michigan Capitol Confidential. "Businesses thrive when you lower the total cost of doing business. One of the major costs for businesses is the cost of government."

Colbeck has been very vocal in his belief that parents, teachers and students should drive education decisions instead of the state and federal governments. He also wants to make Michigan a top ten state for education. To do that, he wants to repeal the common core, provide more money for education without raising taxes, encourage free speech at universities and improve children's reading scores.  

Colbeck graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's and a master's in aerospace engineering. He also studied at the University of Alabama and the International Space University in Strasbourg, France.

Colbeck endorsements include Right to Life of Michigan, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and automotive executive Bob Lutz. He was endorsed by Fox News host Sean Hannity, until he made comments about democratic candidate Abdul El-Sayed having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Democrats

Gretchen Whitmer


Gretchen Whitmer is a lawyer who has served in the State House and two terms in the State Senate. During her second term, she was nominated to be senate minority leader, making her the first woman to lead a party caucus in the senate. As a state representative, she was the ranking democrat on the House Appropriations Committee for four years.

In 2016, Whitmer served as Ingham County Prosecutor after her predecessor resigned amid a scandal. While she was prosecutor, she set up a domestic violence unit to coordinate domestic and sexual violence cases within one group of dedicated professionals to advocate for survivors.

Whitmer is popular for her campaign line: It's time to "fix the damn roads." While improving Michigan's roads is one of her biggest priorities, she also hopes to make health care more affordable, repeal Gov. Snyder's retirement tax and clean up Michigan's drinking water.

Transforming Michigan's education system is high on Whitmer's priority list. During her campaign, she has talked about how Michigan used to "lead the world in education" but is now falling behind. She has created an extensive and detailed plan to make Michigan a leader in education once again. Her plan includes making the classroom experience better and safer for all students and educators, as well as focusing on the early stages of education.

"My plan focuses on the first 1,000 days of a child's life, prioritizing early childhood education funding and putting Michigan on a path to universal preschool. This will ensure every child enters kindergarten ready to learn," Whitmer wrote in a column for Bridge. "Additionally, we will invest in wraparound services like nutrition, dental and medical services that address barriers to learning for children living in poverty."

Whitmer received her bachelor's and J.D. from Michigan State University. After graduating, she was a private practice attorney. When her final term ended, she returned to MSU to teach a course in gender and law. 

Whitmer's endorsements include the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, Emily's List, the Progressive Women's Alliance and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. She is also endorsed by several organizations who represent over 1,000,000 Michigan workers.

Abdul El-Sayed


At 30 years old, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed became the youngest health official of a major American city when he was appointed executive director for the Detroit Department of Health & Wellness Promotion in 2015. He reorganized the office during bankruptcy and built the staff from 91 to 180 people.

As the health director, El-Sayed ensured schools and daycares had lead-free water, created programs to reduce infant mortality and unplanned pregnancy and reduced emission of harmful pollutants. He created a program that provided free glasses to children in need throughout the city.

The highlights of El-Sayed's 20-point platform include raising minimum wage to $15 and hour, implementing state-level single-payer healthcare, legalizing marijuana and shutting down Line 5. His campaign stresses fighting inequality in all forms and getting money out of politics. He prides himself in never accepting "a dime of corporate money."

In addition to reinvesting in public schools, El-Sayed wants to make college tuition-free for families earning less than $150,000 and cheaper overall. He told Michigan Radio that he wants to "de-DeVos" Michigan's education and change how the state handles charter schools.

“This is about creating an off-ramp for for-profit charter schools,” El-Sayed said. “I’m okay with non-profit charter schools, but I’m not okay with charter schools who literally pocket our money that we pay to educate our children.”

El-Sayed graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007. He delivered the student commencement speech with President Bill Clinton. A Rhodes Scholar, he earned his doctorate from Oxford University and his medical degree from Columbia University. 

El-Sayed is endorsed by Congressman Ro Khanna, Senator Nina Turner and state representative Abdullah Hammoud. Additonal endorsements include the MI Nurses Association, Democracy for America, The People for Bernie Sanders and the Muslim Caucus. He has been dubbed "the gun sense candidate" by Moms Demand Action.

Shri Thanedar


Shri Thanedar is a businessman and scientist who immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 to pursue higher education. He has owned and operated many companies, but he has never held an elected office.

Thanedar's platform focuses on education, infrastructure, the legalization of marijuana, government transparency and implementing sensible gun control. If he were governor, he plans on reforming the criminal justice system by freeing people incarcerated for non-violent crimes, including marijuana, and transforming police training to prevent police violence.

Thanedar has several ideas as how to improve education in Michigan. He wants to increase pay for educators, eliminate M-STEP testing, ban for-profit charter schools and implement universal preschool programs. He has suggested implementing year-round schooling, as well as trade and career-technical programs in middle and high schools so college isn't the only option. Thanedar wants to invest $500 million in those programs.

“I want to be known as the education governor Michigan never had because education is important to me,” Thanedar told the Michigan Daily. “These are not just talking points, I draw them from my experiences of life. So when I talk about education and why education needs to be improved, education was the ladder for me to pull myself out of poverty.

After earning his doctorate from the University of Akron, Thanedar went on to the University of Michigan as a post-doctorate scholar. He then worked for Chemir Analytical Services. In 1990, he purchased the company with three employees and by 2008, he had grown the company to more than 400 employees. He sold the company and launched Avomeen Analytical Services in 2010, which he still owns 40 percent of.

Libertarians

Bill Gelineau


Bill Gelineau is a title insurance agent and former chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan. He is the first candidate to qualify for a Libertarian Party primary election in Michigan. He wants to legalize recreational marijuana, end tax subsidies and lower the state tax limit.

John Tatar


John Tatar is an Army veteran and a former teacher. He has run for Congress and state representative. He wants to end gerrymandering, the core curriculum and the State Senate. He also plans to reform automotive insurance.  

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