GOP candidates for Michigan governor attack policies of Republican-controlled Lansing
Aug. 12--LIVONIA -- Several measures passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder were harshly criticized at a political forum in Livonia Saturday.
And it wasn't Democrats lobbing the verbal grenades, but three Republican candidates for governor.
Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, Saginaw physician Dr. Jim Hines and Lansing businessman and student Evan Space all decried the growth in the size of the state budget in the past seven years and recently approved energy legislation that continues to severely limit electric choice for consumers.
Colbeck and Hines both hammered the state's expansion of Medicaid through the Healthy Michigan program, which Hines called "a disaster" for the state and his patients, as well as recently approved tax breaks to attract new businesses, which Colbeck said represent government "picking winners and losers," instead of letting the free market operate.
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As is often the case in a Republican primary battle, all three candidates presented positions on the conservative end of the Republican spectrum.
All three said they are pro-life, with Colbeck and Hines agreeing life that should be protected begins at conception and there should be no abortion ban exceptions for rape or incest. Space, a student at Grand Valley State University who owns a window washing company and served with the military in Afghanistan, said life begins at the embryo stage and did not rule out certain exceptions as part of an abortion ban.
All three said they are staunchly pro-gun and opposed to "gun-free zones" at places such as schools.
And while none wanted to be described as anti-vaccine, all three said parents should be able to choose whether their children are vaccinated against various contagious diseases.
Colbeck, an aerospace engineer who can't run for the Senate again because of term limits, was highly critical of higher gas taxes and vehicle registration fees the Legislature approved in 2015 to increase road funding. He portrayed himself as a lawmaker willing to stick to his convictions despite the consequences, boasting that his opposition to Healthy Michigan was the main reason he was not selected to chair any committees in the latest term.
Hines, who worked as a missionary in the Central African Republic before setting up a medical practice in Saginaw, stressed that he has never run for public office before and is "not a politician," but an outsider. "Are you going to elect someone who is looking for their next job because they're term limited?" he asked the roughly 100 people who attended the event sponsored by the Republican Club of Livonia.
Space staked out a position of his own, proposing the legalization and taxation of marijuana as a way to raise money to fix roads and improve schools. He also disagreed with Colbeck and Hines on tax breaks for corporations as a form of economic development, saying they are useful for job creation and adding that he favored the Michigan film credits the state eliminated in recent years.
Two other declared Republican candidates for governor -- Joseph DeRose of Williamston and Mark McFarlin of Pinconning -- did not attend Saturday's event.
Also missing were two undeclared candidates widely expected to join the Republican race -- Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.