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Posted on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Rick Snyder's new running mate Brian Calley makes first appearance in Washtenaw County

By Ryan J. Stanton


Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder shakes hands with his new running mate, Brian Calley, at the start of a town hall meeting on Thursday.

Ryan J. Stanton |

One day after announcing Brian Calley as his choice for lieutenant governor, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder introduced his new running mate at a town hall meeting at Washtenaw Community College on Thursday.

Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist, called the two-term state representative from Portland a great addition to his campaign to reinvent Michigan. He characterized Calley, 33, as a hard-working lawmaker and a family man with proven integrity.


State Rep. Brian Calley, Rick Snyder's choice for lieutenant governor, appeared with the Republican gubernatorial candidate at a town hall meeting Thursday at Washtenaw Community College.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"He was a community banker, so he knows what it takes to work with small businesses and to create jobs and to make things happen at the Main Street level," Snyder told the crowd of less than 100 people.

"And then he's been a successful legislator," Snyder added. "He's had two terms in the House and he's recognized as somebody who can work across the aisle and get the support of both parties to come together and show real results."

Calley, making his first public appearance in Washtenaw County, made light of the fact that his running mate is from a rival university. Calley graduated from Michigan State University in 1998 with a degree in business administration.

"The world must be upside down or on its head here, because we've got a Sparty here next to a Wolverine," Calley joked.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce went on record supporting Snyder's choice of running mate on Thursday, saying Calley has a proven record of being "pro-jobs, pro-taxpayer and pro-business." 

But a group called Progress Michigan described Calley as "someone who consistently votes against workers, consumers, women and political reforms."

Progress Michigan cited Calley's record of refusing to support unemployment benefits extensions, provide job training for the unemployed, opposing abortion exceptions, opposing expansion of hate crime protections and refusing to support campaign reforms that would rein in the influence of corporations and special interests.

Snyder defended Calley on Thursday — even responding to feedback that Calley, at age 33, might be a little young to be Michigan's lieutenant governor.

"That's the kind of attitude we need for the future, though," Snyder said. "We need to include our up-and-coming generations in our leadership to build for the long-term. And it's interesting, I look back when I was 33, I was actually helping build a Fortune 500 company, so it's amazing what young people can do with the right motivation."

A new poll released Thursday by EPIC/MRA shows Snyder with a 22-point lead over Democrat Virg Bernero in the race for governor, with overwhelming support from independent voters. Snyder leads Bernero 51 percent to 29 percent, the poll shows.

Independent voters favored Snyder 50 percent to 15 percent, with 35 percent undecided. The poll shows Snyder even has a slim lead among Bernero’s most natural constituency — union members and their families.

Snyder, who is proposing to redevelop the state with a "smaller, faster, better, cheaper government," took a couple of jabs at Bernero during Thursday's event.

"If you like how our government works, if you like how our political system works, the other candidate is a self-announced career politician — you should go vote for him," he said. "That's the world he knows, lives in, and loves."


Snyder criticized his opponent, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, by calling him a "career politician" on Thursday.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Much of Snyder's message was an almost-verbatim repeat from past town hall appearances. He talked about doing away with the Michigan Business Tax, and the need to retain young people. He also continued to portray himself as a real-world job creator and talked about his time as president of Gateway Computers.

"I helped run the computer company from '91 to '97," he said. "We grew from 700-some people to over 10,000 people in six years. And why did we grow? We grew because of outstanding customer service and because we sold innovative products at great value for money. Those concepts I've talked about, I know they work. We need to take those concepts from the private sector and apply them to the public sector."

Calley and Snyder both called the state's government "broken" and said the problems in Lansing require real-world solutions. Calley specifically shared a vision of Republicans and Democrats working together to solve the state's problems in the future, reaching compromises and respecting each other's different views.

"Michigan has lacked leadership for quite some time, and we see it in the broken culture in Lansing, the issues and the problems that we face there," Calley said. "And so much of it is because we're always looking in that rearview mirror. I love the past of Michigan, and I want us to celebrate that, but those fights of yesterday — this east side versus west side, Republicans versus Democrats, the idea of rural versus urban, and on and on — none of those fights solve any problems at all."

Snyder reiterated that he has pledged to not take any special interest money during his campaign, so he doesn't bring any "baggage" to the governor's office.

In response to an audience member question, Snyder affirmed his support for embryonic stem cell research, a stance that doesn't sit well with some conservatives and others who are pro-life. Snyder also shunned the state's film credit program.

"It's good to encourage arts and culture, but when you give someone 42 cents on the dollar of their expenses, it's economically inefficient compared to how you could otherwise use those dollars in a much more efficient way by having a lower tax rate," he said.

Several notable Republicans were on hand for the event, including Ann Arbor-area cardiologist Rob Steele, who is running against Congressman John Dingell in November, and Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser.

Washtenaw County Commissioner Mark Ouimet, who is running as a Republican in the 52nd District state House race, gave the opening remarks. Ouimet has worked with Snyder on Ann Arbor SPARK's executive committee.

"I think we've had eight years of happy talk and cheerleading, and it's gotten us nowhere," Ouimet said of Michigan's current leadership. "We have one chance in this state to get it right, and Rick Snyder is that man who can make it right for all of us."

Calley told the crowd on Thursday that he's no stranger to Ann Arbor. He said he has spent a lot of time here this year because his young daughter had heart surgery at U-M Hospital, "so there's a warm spot in my heart for your city."

Calley said Michigan faces tough times ahead, and it's a good thing voters have the option of electing "one tough nerd" in November.

"It is an honor to be part of the team, to be here in Michigan, at this time in our history and all the excitement that can come along if we start looking in front of us and think about the potential that Michigan has," he said. "The past was great — it sure was — and the future can be even greater with Rick Snyder as our next governor."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Henry Ruger

Mon, Aug 30, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

In the text of the article you might want to say something about who Calley is, where he came from, and what he's been doing (not just an oblique reference to his experience within a quote). And, of course, you have to feature the opposition's criticisms of the guy, ignoring his purported strengths, seeing as how this site leans, shall we say, a bit left of center. Please try for at least the appearance of some balance.


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 6:33 p.m.

As an independent, I had considered voting for Snyder, but in the face of his choice or running mate, that possibility has evaporated. Good job Rick! Right off the bat you've alienated would-be supporters.


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Top Cat and Mick52: Please explain how you can associate Virg Bernero with Jennifer Granholm's policies or with "reactionary" labor as well. Virg Bernero has balanced Lansing's city budget each of the last 5 years and has helped to bring millions of dollars to Michigan and to Lansing. He has also retained or created 6,000 jobs in the past several years. These accomplishments are not typical throughout the rest of Michigan. Top Cat: I happen to agree with your observation that the duet of Snyder/Calley is inexperienced and unlikely to turn around Michigan. If experience counts, as you apparently believe, you should examine Virg Bernero's record objectively. Candidates should be judged on the record of their accomplishments in government as they are likely to continue to perform as in the past. Election promises are geared to generate votes and you can not take a candidate to court for failing to keep promises. You can only vote the person out of office at the next election.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

Great...a social conservative as his right-hand man. Well, it was nice to entertain the thought of a moderate running for Governor.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 2:01 p.m.

Not impressed by either of these guys, but see no reason not to vote against them. Can't see any difference between Mayor Bernero and Gov Granholm so at least with the change we might stop digging the hole we are in. Still I don't see anything here that indicates Michigan will turn around with two inexperienced republicans in office. Can we just do the primary over again? I really thought it would be Dillon and Hoekstra. More experience there and easier for either to hit the ground running. Bernero and Snyder are going to go into shock for a while till they figure out what to do when they hit the wall.

Top Cat

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

The supporters of the old, dying Michigan of Granholm, Bernero and reactionary Labor will say or do anything at this point to fight the reform necessary to turn this state around.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

Hey, Virg, here's someone your campaign can bring to the attention of state voters early and often. Calley neatly personifies the nature of the nasty political party that stands in the shadows behind Rick Snyder. To show your appreciation, you should send Snyder a nice thank-you note for caving in so quickly to the GOP far-right. He has just served up for public consumption a running mate who symbolizes the kind of cold-hearted, corrosive, reactionary politics which should give considerable pause to any 'independent' voter who actually thinks for themselves and shares a genuine concern about the well-being of others. And, oh, please keep in mind that Calley is being groomed for gov. in 2018. ------------ "... Calley's record of refusing to support unemployment benefits extensions, provide job training for the unemployed, opposing abortion exceptions, opposing expansion of hate crime protections and refusing to support campaign reforms that would rein in the influence of corporations and special interests."


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : noon

I guess after this, they can't blame it on the females.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

This choice for Lt Gov was what I feared (Snyder candidate was someone I could have voted for)...Snyder having to bring the bagagge of the right wing of the party....oh well guess I'll hold my nose and vote for Bernero


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 11:04 a.m.

KEY STATEMENTS ABOUT BRIAN CALLEY In his article Ryan Stanton writes: "But a group called Progress Michigan described Calley as "someone who consistently votes against workers, consumers, women and political reforms." and "Progress Michigan cited Calley's record of refusing to support unemployment benefits extensions, provide job training for the unemployed, opposing abortion exceptions, opposing expansion of hate crime protections and refusing to support campaign reforms that would rein in the influence of corporations and special interests." So far these claims have not been refuted. Presumably, Rick Snyder agrees or he could have selected someone else.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Please, please, invstigate deeply the political and financial dealings of ALL candidates, not just Snyder-Calley. Schlomo, you should DEMAND that of ALL our politicians. History shows that corruption is rampant in both parties, so why just the focus on Republicans, Schlomo? DO you not care about ethics? What is Bernero going to do? Democrats have had 8 years to turn things around and have done very little.The state continues to sink into the morass of destitution with an undereducated populace dependent on one industry to sustain a middle class lifestyle.Both parties have made this possible. I have little confidence in either. Giving angry speeches is great for stirring up the base, but it does nothing for the actual lives of people. I want to see Bernero's plan for revitalizing this state between now and November. Who cares about Calley's beliefs on unemployment and abortion? He is a lieutenant governor. He has no power. I doubt that Snyder will risk political capital on issues that he has thus far shown very little interest in addressing.Calley is a sop for social conservatives. That's all he is. The issue for this election is the economy. It's the economy stupid.That's all people care about.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

Calley will deny unemployment benefits!!??!!??!! Calley opposes abortion exceptions...including rape!!??!!??!!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

Please Please for the sake of our future dig deeply into the financial lives of these 2 self proclaimed saviors of Michigan. I smell too much money talk!! A2News DO YOUR JOB and get to the bottom of this.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

I hope these folks truly see how far the State of Michigan has fallen these last 8 years.