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Detroit Chamber backs Whitmer for governor

October 17, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Jonathan Oosting

The Detroit Regional Chamber is recommending voters split their tickets on Nov. 6 with new endorsements that include Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor and Republican Tom Leonard for attorney general.

The business group announced Wednesday it is also backing Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow for re-election, Republican-nominated Michigan Supreme Court justices Beth Clement and Kurtis Wilder, and incumbent U.S. House members from both sides of the aisle.

The gubernatorial endorsement is a notable pickup for Whitmer in her race against Republican Bill Schuette, who is backed by most other major business advocacy organizations, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Rapids Chamber and Business Leaders for Michigan.

They are competing to take on term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican whom the chamber endorsed in 2010 and 2014.

But it’s Whitmer, the Democrat, who is “best suited to carry forward the positive trajectory established the last eight years and better reflects the Chamber’s key priorities,” Brad Williams, vice president of government relations, said in a statement.

“While it is rare for an elected official to be fully aligned with the Chamber’s pro-growth and pro-smart investment policies, Whitmer’s strong support for regional transit, funding for critical infrastructure, and her past support for the Detroit Grand Bargain, Healthy Michigan, and the Gordie Howe International Bridge make her the candidate that best aligns with the Chamber’s agenda.”

If elected, Whitmer said she’s “ready to partner with the Detroit Chamber and everyone else who wants to make Michigan the place people move to for opportunity again.”

The endorsements announced Wednesday were decided by the Detroit chamber’s political action committee and required a two-thirds vote among board members.

The PAC did not endorse in the 11th Congressional District race between Democrat Haley Stevens and Republican Lena Epstein, who are competing to replace retiring Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham.

Board members also didn’t reach consensus on a preferred candidate in the Secretary of State race between Democrat Jocelyn Benson and Republican Mary Treder Lang.

In endorsing Leonard over Democrat Dana Nessel in the attorney general’s race, the chamber said the state House speaker and former Genesee County assistant prosecutor has “consistently exercised the judgment needed to hold wrongdoers accountable, create an environment hospitable to growth, and represent the people’s interest.”

The chamber did not endorse in the Republican primary to take on Stabenow and is again backing her in her general election match-up against Farmington Hills businessman John James, who was endorsed this month by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Stabenow “has been a tremendous champion for Michigan in Congress,” Williams said.

In one of the state’s most closely watched congressional campaigns, the Detroit chamber endorsed incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester over Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin of Holly.

The chamber also endorsed re-election bids by incumbent Republican Reps. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg and Paul Mitchell, along with Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell Brenda Lawrence and 9th District favorite Andy Levin, a Democrat running to replace his retiring father Rep. Sander Levin.

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