Tags: Michigan | Senate race | GOP | midterms | governor race

GOP's Pullout in Michigan Senate Race Still Puzzling

By Friday, 24 October 2014 07:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Ten days before the November elections and two weeks after the National Republican Senatorial Committee abruptly pulled back its advertising on behalf of Michigan’s GOP Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land, many Republican activists in the Wolverine State are still asking why.

On Oct. 7, Cameron Joseph of The Hill reported that the NRSC was pulling back its TV advertising in Michigan.

The ad buys were an estimated $850,000 on behalf of Land, a former two-term secretary of state and a member of the Republican National Committee, who is competing with Democratic Rep. Gary Peters for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat.

One source close to Land said her campaign learned about the NRSC’s pullback on ads from reading The Hill article.

The same source told Newsmax that Lamb’s own internal polling last week showed her trailing Peters among likely voters by about 5 percentage points statewide. More significantly, a just-completed EPIC/MRI poll conducted for the Detroit News and Channel 7  in Detroit showed Republican Gov. Rick Snyder still leading his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Mark Schauer.

According to the poll, Snyder — hated by labor unions and the Democratic hierarchy for signing Michigan’s right-to-work law two years ago — holds a lead among likely voters of 47 percent to 39 percent over Schauer.

In late September, Snyder led Schauer by 45 percent to 39 percent. In addition, all the Republican incumbents in statewide offices, such as lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general are expected to be re-elected with ease.

"Pulling out prematurely on Terri when the governor is running strong is a big mistake," Saul Anuzis, former state party chairman and GOP national committeeman, told Newsmax. "Michigan is a purple state that can go red under the right circumstances."

Big wins for Republican governors have helped Republicans win Senate races in Michigan in the past.

In 1966, as then-Gov. George Romney (father of Mitt) was winning re-election by the second-largest margin of any governor in state history, appointed GOP Sen. Bob Griffin won a full term over Democrat and former Gov. G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams. When Republican Gov. John Engler was rolling up a landslide re-election in 1994, his coattails helped former state GOP Chairman Spence Abraham win a close Senate race — the last Senate race won by Michigan Republicans.

Land announced for the Senate when other much-discussed Republican prospects such as Reps. Dave Camp and Mike Rogers were considering the race. Both chose not to run and Land wrapped up the nomination with no opposition. She and her husband put in more than $1 million of their own money to launch the campaign.

Although supportive of Land’s candidacy, several party activists in the state who requested anonymity told us they felt the Republican nominee did not fare well discussing policy and issues, and this might have been a factor in the NRSC’s decision.

Rather than offering any reasons, an NRSC spokesman explained the decision on advertising buys are made not by the committee itself but by an independent expenditure (IE) committee made up of GOP consultants. Under federal campaign regulations, the NRSC and its IE committee are "walled off" from one another and are barred from communicating.

Before its exit from Michigan in early October, the IE committee of the NRSC had unleashed an estimated $1.5 million in TV salvos in the state’s U.S. Senate race. Most of the spots hit hard at Peters.

There are others standing with Land in the twilight days of the campaign. The conservative group Ending Spending, for example, is on the air independently on her behalf.

But coming when it did and at a time when a Republican "wave" appears to be developing in Michigan, the pullout has many party activists fearing it will send the wrong message to potential backers of Terri Lynn Land.

As Saul Anuzis put it, "it’s very disappointing."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Ten days before the November elections and two weeks after the National Republican Senatorial Committee abruptly pulled its advertising on behalf of Michigan's GOP Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land, many Republican activists are still asking why.
Michigan, Senate race, GOP, midterms, governor race
Friday, 24 October 2014 07:36 AM
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