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Lt. Gov. Brian Calley Closer to Running for Governor

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley

Michigan Lt. Gov. Calley signals 2018 gubernatorial bid. 

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signaled his candidacy to be Michigan's next governor Monday, launching an online ad in which he touts Republican-passed right-to-work and tax laws and talks about having an autistic daughter.

The ad and a new website hint at a May 30 announcement, which would coincide with the week of the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual policy conference on Mackinac Island for influential business, political and civic leaders.

Gov. Rick Snyder cannot run for a third term in 2018 because of term limits. Calley, 40, is a former banker and state lawmaker who as lieutenant governor has advocated for disability, mental health and prescription drug abuse reforms.

In the ad, he says he has used daughter Reagan's experience with autism "to help everyone in Michigan live a better life. I don't shout it from the rooftop. That's not my style. It's not the grandstanding that matters. It's winning for you."

To date, no high-profile Republican has entered the race, though Attorney General Bill Schuette is expected to run and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck is considering it. Calley in the ad cites as accomplishments the 2012 laws that made union support voluntary in private and most public workplaces and "scrapping the old tax code" — a reference to a major 2011 overhaul in which business taxes were slashed while tax exemptions and credits were scaled back for pensioners, homeowners, low-income earners and taxpayers with children. He cast the tie-breaking vote after the GOP-led Senate deadlocked 19-19.

"I never raised my voice, but we got the right things done," Calley says in the ad, before a narrator adds "and will again."

Calley, of Portland, plans to speak with reporters after he and Snyder address the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon on Monday. Calley's moves were first reported by The Detroit News.

Political consultant John Yob said the online campaign will cost $500,000 over five weeks.

The ad is paid for by MIPAC, an independent political action committee formed for Calley in 2015. It raised $23,500 through 2016. Calley had nearly $610,000 in his lieutenant governor candidate committee as of Dec. 31 — money that could be used in a gubernatorial bid.

The news of Calley's intentions led the state AFL-CIO to note Calley's support for the tax rewrite and to accuse him of being "terrible for Michigan's working families. ... The last thing Michigan needs is a third term for Rick Snyder, and that's exactly what Calley and Schuette represent."

On the Democratic side, former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing is the most prominent candidate to have announced, in January. Others running are: former Detroit Health Department Executive Director Abdul El-Sayed; former Xerox Corp. executive Bill Cobbs of Farmington Hills; emergency medical services driver Kentiel White of Southgate; and Justin Giroux of Westland. U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township is mulling whether to jump in, and Ann Arbor entrepreneur Shri Thanedar formed a gubernatorial committee this month.

Lesser-known Republican candidates include Saginaw doctor Jim Hines — who loaned his campaign $166,000 in 2016 — Joseph Derose of Williamston, Evan Space of Grand Rapids and Mark McFarlin of Pinconning.

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