Michigan gubernatorial Republican candidates, from left, Patrick Colbeck, Brian Calley and Jim Hines participate in a debate June 7 at the University Center building on the Macomb Community College Center Campus in Clinton Township.

Michigan gubernatorial Republican candidates, from left, Patrick Colbeck, Brian Calley and Jim Hines participate in a debate June 7 at the University Center building on the Macomb Community College Center Campus in Clinton Township.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Republican candidates square off in gubernatorial debate

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published June 8, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Three of the four candidates running on the Republican ticket to become the next governor of Michigan vow to work to keep the state’s economy strong, eliminate Common Core in the classrooms and solve the state’s road issues if elected Nov. 6.

Four candidates are running to be the Republican nominee: Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, Dr. Jim Hines and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Calley, Colbeck and Hines participated in a gubernatorial debate June 7 inside the University Center on the Macomb Community College Center Campus in Clinton Township. Schuette did not attend.

The primary election is Aug. 7. The top Republican vote-getter in the primary becomes the party’s nominee for the general election in November.

The debate was presented by the Macomb County Republican Assembly, which is dedicated to improving the Republican party through education of voters and finding the best candidates for office. The MCRA’s website is www.macombcountyRA.com.

It was reported June 7 that Schuette plans to only participate in three debates, while a debate brochure stated that he “is unable to be with us tonight. He had a previous engagement.”

The evening’s panelists were Fox 2 News anchor Charlie Langton, 104.3 WOMC radio personality Jim “JJ” Johnson, and Pacific Media’s Kathy Hoekstra. The panelists asked the candidates questions about the economy, healthcare, immigration, education, school safety, roads, LGBT issues and more.

Each candidate had one minute to answer each question. If a candidate said the name of another candidate when speaking, that candidate could offer a quick rebuttal. The debate opened with a two-minute introduction from each candidate.

“I would be honored to have your support as governor. This is a job interview to size up the candidates and make a really important decision,” said Calley, who has served under Gov. Rick Snyder since Jan. 1, 2011. “Our state has come so far, with 540,000 new jobs. We don’t have enough people for all the jobs we’ve created. We hear the same thing from employees. We need skilled workers.”

Hines, of Saginaw, is a gynecologist/obstetrician who said he is not a politician.

“I am a political outsider. I’m running for governor because I want to make a difference. I want to put people first, not politics,” said Hines, who added that if elected governor, he will be “laser-focused on jobs, education, infrastructure. I’m pro-life, pro-limited government and pro-Second Amendment.”

He also believes in skilled trades and feels “there are too many kids in the state who can’t read.”

Colbeck, of Dearborn, is currently serving his second term in the Senate’s 7th District. As an aerospace engineer, the state politician said he likes to “fix things,” including our roads.

“Fix the roads once and for all,” he said.

Colbeck, if elected governor, also will “get the federal government out of the classrooms and give it back to teachers, parents and students.”

“Let teachers teach,” he said.

Calley and Hines agreed with Colbeck and want to see less state and federal control in the classroom.

Colbeck also wants to see a “free market health care revolution” and is not in favor of corporate welfare.

“When I say ‘no’ to big companies, I’m saying ‘yes’ to the American people,” Colbeck said.

One of the first questions asked related to the marijuana ballot proposal in which the residents of Michigan will vote this November whether or not to make recreational marijuana legal in the state.

Calley is not in favor of the initiative, but if he becomes governor and, if the proposal passes, he would do his best to “implement” the new law because it’s what the people voted for. Calley, originally from Dearborn, said he does, however, support medical marijuana.

“I’ve seen it make a huge difference for people,” he said.

Colbeck does not support the recreational marijuana ballot proposal. He pointed out that many employers conduct drug tests. Potential workers could get passed over for work because they fail drug tests, and that will just lead to more people using public assistance.

Hines believes “recreational marijuana is a disaster” because, he said, it affects the memory and the brain and has a negative impact overall.

The panel also asked the candidates their thoughts on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to decorate a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious objections. All agree with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I love and take care of lesbian and transgender patients,” Hines said. “That doesn’t mean I have to agree with their lifestyle.”

All three candidates said they will address the opioid crisis if elected governor, and they also promise to put steps in place to lower the costs of auto insurance for the people of Michigan. Illegal immigration was brought up, and each candidate said he supports President Donald Trump’s agenda to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“I am not in favor of sanctuary cities,” Colbeck said. “I think it’s important (that) the security of our citizens is our first priority.”

“I agree with the wall. I can’t understand why it’s controversial. If we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country,” Calley said. “We are a nation of rules and laws. They must be followed.”  

Calley added that the legal immigration in Macomb County has made a positive impact and that “we have to help people” of “religious persecution.”

“I’m a strong supporter of legal immigration,” Hines said. “I’m a strong supporter of the wall.”

Supporters attend debate
Darlene Dowling, of Ronald Township in Ionia County, drove a long distance to attend the debate with her husband, Ken. She is backing Calley.

“He’s the best guy for the job. There is nothing phoney baloney about him,” she said. “He’s got a heart of gold and a passion I don’t see in anybody else. Everyone knows how great he is. I love Brian. He cares about people. He’s not just in it to say, ‘Look, here I am.’ He would be the best governor in history.”

About eight months ago, Matt Muxlow met Hines and “was struck by the fact that he wasn’t taking special interest money” in his decision to run for governor. Muxlow, of Lansing, feels so strongly about Hines that about six weeks ago, he became the doctor’s campaign manager.

Fred Kuplicki, of Fraser, and Jazmine Early, of Sterling Heights, attended the debate and support Colbeck in the race.

“He knows what’s going on,” Kuplicki said. “When he speaks, he speaks with confidence.”

“He’s a stronge candidate. He’s a humble person,” Early said. “I see him as a person, not a regular politician. He’s for the people.”

Also in the race for governor are Democrats Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar and Gretchen Whitmer; Libertarians Bill Gelineau and John J. Tatar; and Jennifer Kurland of the Green Party.