Political News and Commentary with the Right Perspective. NAVIGATION
  • Front Page
  • News
  • Multimedia
  • Tags
  • RSS Feed

  • Advertise on RightMichigan.com


    Get the RightMighigan.com toolbar!



    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Race Blogging - 29th State Senate Seat

    By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
    Posted on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 09:48:21 AM EST
    Tags: Fix Michigan Center of West Michigan, Kent County Republicans, Kentwood, Justin Amash, Ken Yonker, Bing Goei, Harold Mast, Dick VanderMolen, Shana Shroll, Independence Caucus, Michigan Republican Party, Dave Hildenbrand, Michigan Democrat Party, David LaGrand, Libertarian Party of Michigan, Bill Gelineau (all tags)

    (Promoted by Nick...)

    My "normal job" here at the Fix Michigan Center of West Michigan is as the Communications Coordinator, which means that I'm supposed to be cranking out one blog per week.  Yeah . . . not so much.  The brutal reality for me this particular election cycle is that I've been heavily involved in a leadership position for the Kent County Republicans in the ground game in Kentwood.  My work is impacting the 3rd Congressional race (Justin Amash), the 72nd and 75th State House races (Ken Yonker and Bing Goei, respectively), and the 12th, 13th, and 19th County Commission races (Harold Mast, Dick VanderMolen, and Shana Shroll).  Of those candidates, only VanderMolen is an incumbent; Mast and Shroll are challengers, and the others are running for open seats.

    So far as I know, all six of those races are more or less safely in Republican hands right now, though some of them are tighter than we might care for.  On the other hand, there is one race in Kent County that will be closer than we'd like, that the Democrats want really bad, that the Republicans cannot afford to lose . . . and I've been working on the ground game (to a greater or lesser degree) since May.  Such is the life of a Precinct Delegate.

    Until The Polls Open In Michigan

    Mark Brewer and the Michigan Democrat Party want to place their majority in Michigan's Upper Chamber this election, and as a result potentially seize control of next year's redistricting process.  MDP has targeted the 7th (Patterson), 20th (George), 29th (Hardiman), and 34th (VanWoerkom) State Senate seats for "flipping" - four open seats that they believe they can take from the Republicans.  Here in Kent County, the contest to replace term-limited Bill Hardiman is pitting Grand Rapids City Commissioner David LaGrand (D-Ward 2) against State Representative Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell), with Bill Gelineau (Libertarian) attempting to play spoiler.

    I've known Dave Hildenbrand pretty much since moving into Grand Rapids in March of 2008.  (The 86th House District currently includes the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, which is where I lived for my first year as a Kent County resident.)  I know him as an honest man who never forgets that his job is to represent the people of his district.  We see eye-to-eye on core issues, and he does meet Reagan's 4/5 rule with room to spare.  Moreover, I know for a fact that one doesn't earn an Independence Caucus endorsement without being provably a constitutional conservative (and Dave was endorsed by I-Caucus in the primaries).

    I know that Dave Hildenbrand means it when he says that he'll oppose budgets that spend more than the state collects in revenue; that he'll advocate for a fixed limit on welfare (of any sort) for able-bodied adults; that he'll support a requirement that the legislature pass the budget by July 1st of each year . . . or legislators don't get paid.  When Dave tells me that he'll insist on making the state budget transparent, including posting all state government spending online (in order to prevent waste, corruption, and inefficiency), I believe him.

    As much as I may prefer to not admit it, Bill Gelineau is the person who recruited me into the Libertarian Party.  However, after just over two years of off-and-on dealings with him, I'm fairly certain that he doesn't have the temperament that would be expected of a State Senator, which is also the reason that I've allowed my LPM membership to go dormant . . . on purpose.  And I think that any responsible Michigander might have a problem with some of his issue positions.  (Feel free to read them and form your own opinion.)

    I don't know David LaGrand personally, but I have done some research on him.  In my opinion, his priorities seem to be skewed . . . and that's putting it kindly.

    • Back in 2007, when LaGrand was running for the Grand Rapids City Commission, he received a sizeable campaign contribution . . . from a union . . . that he didn't properly declare.  According to an article in the Grand Rapids Press (Nov 27th of that year), he was fined when this contribution came to light.

    • In December of 2009, when Grand Rapids was facing a budget crunch, LaGrand (according to the City Commission minutes of December 1st) voted in favor of the city retaining the services of a DC lobbyist, yet voted to lay off police officers and firefighters in order to justify a millage request.  I know that, of the approximately four dozen officers and approximately two dozen firefighters that were used as human shields to leverage that tax increase, not all were hired back.  The re-hired cops that I talked to aren't even back on patrol duty . . . they're on desk assignments (because the city can't afford to put them back on the beat).

    • In a debate on June 27th of this year, David LaGrand said that he's open to raising taxes to solve the state's budget problems . . . because that's worked so well the past seven years or so.

    • Apparently, David LaGrand is quite comfortable with spending any reserve money that the state may have.  In an article published in the Grand Rapids Press on October 14th, LaGrand said that he wants to spend some of the $100 million of excess tax money that the state received this year on reviving the Pure Michigan advertising campaign . . . because that campaign has been so wildly successful.  Hildenbrand's position, that the state should set that money aside for future needs, was characterized by LaGrand as a panic-driven, short-sighted reaction.

    Based on the poll numbers I've seen, the 29th is going to come down to turnout in Kentwood and the four rural townships (Cascade, Lowell, Vergennes, and Grattan), which are safely in the Republican column.  The west side of Grand Rapids (the entirety of Ward 1) is as Democrat as it's ever been, and we will need to keep it close on the east side of Grand Rapids (wards 2 and 3).

    So of course, within the swing precincts - Kentwood and the east side of Grand Rapids - the 29th has turned into a door-lit war.  If you don't have a yard sign prominently displayed, then you can pretty much count on having fresh reading material every couple of days or so (and sometimes even the yard signs don't help).

    The Gelineau/LPM literature is pretty much the standard, "we're right, everyone else is wrong," stuff that tends to annoy those non-Libertarian voters who are otherwise inclined to support a third-party presence on the ballot.

    The Hildenbrand/MRP literature depends on the source of that literature.  The Michigan Republican Party has funded several mailings that point out many of the things that I addressed earlier, as well as other contrasts between Dave and David.  The literature coming directly from Hildenbrand's campaign is much more positive stuff that focuses on his intentions once seated in the State Senate, the fact that he does have private sector experience, as well as his endorsement by the current Mayor of Kentwood (Richard Root, 2002 - present) as well as the two most recent past mayors of Kentwood (Bill Hardiman, 1992 - 2002, and Gerald DeRuiter, 1981 - 1992).

    The literature being put out by LaGrand and the Kent County Democrats - made in Michigan by Michigan workers, the literature proudly claims - is sort of . . . desperate.  He's resorting to cherry-picking Dave's record (and his I-Caucus interview), distorting the facts, outright lying, and general mudslinging in what should be a campaign about fixing Michigan.  The overall tenor of the LeGrand/MDP/KCDP advertising says much about David LaGrand's character, but not so much about what he's going to do to turn Michigan around.  Truthfully, I really don't think that LaGrand's intentions can be trusted.

    The fact that all three campaigns are investing so many resources into something that typically influences about as many voters as a Ouija board does says much about how close the race for the 29th State Senate seat really is.

    In comparing endorsements and issue positions between the Daves, the only common ground is that they're both pro-life, and both meet the endorsement criteria for Michigan Right To Life . . . and that's about it.  Dave Hildenbrand supports the Michigan FairTax Proposal, Right-To-Work, and the Michigan Healthcare Freedom Initiative; David LaGrand opposes all three.  Dave Hildenbrand's endorsements are loaded with known conservative organizations (such as Citizens for Traditional Values and the National Rifle Association) and business organizations (such as the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce).  David LaGrand's endorsements prominently feature pro-gay and pro-progressive organizations, and the unions that back them.

    As I said back at the beginning of this article, I'd love to be doing what I was recruited by the Fix Michigan Center of West Michigan to do.  (Seriously, I have at least a dozen potential articles in the draft stage, half of which may be obsolete by the time that I get around to finishing them.)  But there are some campaigns involving my current hometown of Kentwood that are too important for me to step away from the ground game that I'm apparently very good at.

    I don't doubt that the Michigan Democrat Party is nervous about the likely outcomes in this year's vote harvest, and with good reason.  Just last week, "outside sources" have funneled sizeable amounts of money (think six figures) into some of the tight local races in Kent County.  The idea, of course, is to buy as much advertising as can be bought between now and All Saints Day.  Evidently, there are some billionaires with so much spare cash on hand that they are of the mindset that they can use their checkbooks to dictate state policy.

    The Kent County team of the Independence Caucus of Michigan is focusing their efforts on the local candidates that the caucus has endorsed (Justin Amash, Dave Hildenbrand, Dave Agema - R-74th, and Tom Hooker - R-77th), and they're doing it in a way that brings the entire Republican ticket along for the ride.  This would include Ruth Johnson, who is also endorsed by the I-Caucus of Michigan, as well as Justice Bob Young and Judge Mary Beth Kelly.  It also includes the four County Commission candidates in districts that KCRC has targeted for "flipping" and an additional one on the west side that the I-Caucus believes that they can flip.

    As I've said many times before:  All other things being equal, the grassroots will override the greenbacks every time.  The Kent County Republicans, the Tea Party of West Michigan, the Fix Michigan Center of West Michigan, and the Kent County team of the Independence Caucus of Michigan are working to not only hold the seats that are safe, but to also flip the seats that we believe we can return to the Republican column.

    And to hang on to one contested seat in particular.

    < Justice Young | Glenn Wilson Is Costing ALL Americans Money >

    Share This: Digg! StumbleUpon del.icio.us reddit reddit

    Display: Sort:
    As is so often the case: (none / 0) (#1)
    by maidintheus on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 10:49:26 AM EST
    You've provided an awesome piece. Thanks for all your good work!!!

    Additional Information and Factual Corrections (none / 0) (#2)
    by Kevin Rex Heine on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 03:22:28 PM EST
    In getting this article to bed and published, I misstated the facts on the "lobbyist vs. layoffs" debacle that is being rightly used against David LaGrand by the Michigan Republican Party.  Please permit me to correct the record and provide some additional information:

    • In a Grand Rapids Press article from November 5, 2009 (published online at about 5:56 PM), City Manager Greg Sundstrom announced that layoffs would be necessary to resolve a $21 million budget gap.

    • In a Grand Rapids Press article from November 10, 2009 (published online at about 9:30 AM), Sundstrom announced that the city would lay off 125 city employees - to include 44 police officers and 25 fire fighters - effective January 1, 2010.  He claimed that he had no choice and that he was convinced that it was not possible to come up with a budget that did not include layoffs in those departments.

    • In a Grand Rapids Press article from November 10, 2009 (published online at about noon), Mayor George Heartwell said that he would call for a citywide ballot initiative for a tax increase in order to raise funds to re-hire those police officers and firefighters who would be laid off.

    • Interestingly enough, that evening's regular session of the Grand Rapids City Commission, according to the minutes, contained no mention of either announcement.

    • An article published in the Grand Rapids Press on December 1, 2009 (published online at about 10:34 AM), the Grand Rapids City Commission had already decided in committee to retain for another year - at the cost of $67,200 - the services of a DC lobbying firm.  The matter was to be finalized in the regular meeting later that evening.

    • In the December 1, 2009, regular session of the Grand Rapids City Commission, according to the minutes (see specifically page 11, item 78859), the commissioners - with only Commissioner Jendrasiak dissenting - voted to extend the Agreement for Federal Government Affairs (which had been in place since December 6, 2006) with the firm Dykema Gossett.  The extension was approved through December 5, 2012, for a total of . . . wait for it . . . $204,960.

    That's right, dear faithful readers.  Knowing that the city was facing a budget hole large enough to warrant the layoff of about three dozen workers from what known to be core functions of city government, Commissioner David LaGrand was perfectly okay with blowing six figures worth of taxpayer dollars to do what the city's Congressman is supposed to be elected for (a point made by Commissioner James Jendrasiak in casting his dissenting vote).

    To be fair, in my initial article, I misstated that Commissioner (now Candidate) LaGrand had voted both to approve the layoffs and renew the lobbying firm's contract at the same City Commission meeting.  In that much I was in error.  After further review, I have as yet no evidence that the City Commission voted to approve the layoffs, or that they were even required to do so.

    However, my basic point stands.  David LaGrand, along with four other city commissioners and Mayor Heartwell - with full knowledge that the city's budget shortfall was going to require police and fire department layoffs - voted approval of a questionable expenditure of taxpayer dollars for the next three years.

    And both Dave Hildenbrand and the Michigan Republican Party are perfectly justified in hanging that albatross right on LaGrand's neck.

    • Oops . . . by Kevin Rex Heine, 10/27/2010 04:40:41 PM EST (none / 0)
    That's why (none / 0) (#4)
    by grannynanny on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 06:25:55 PM EST
    we should be voting NO on any millage or renewals that are put before us.  I am firmly behind health and pension benefits for police officers and firefighters but it ends there.  Some high school grad plunking info into a computer for 25 yrs does not deserve lifetime benefits.  Teachers same thing.

    We need to let every public official know the gravy train has stopped.  No more taxes, no more millages. They can live with what they have until this economy turns around - which in Michigan is going to be when hell freezes over or the Lions win the Super Bowl - neither of which is a reality.

    Display: Sort:


    Make a new account

    Tweet along with RightMichigan by
    following us on Twitter HERE!


    Who is your choice for Michigan's 29th State Senate District?
    Dave Hildenbrand (Republican)
    David LaGrand (Democrat)
    Bill Gelineau (Libertarian)

    Votes: 3
    Results | Other Polls
    create account | faq | search