Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is headed toward a comfortable victory Tuesday in the Republican gubernatorial primary, a race he was widely favored to win.
Multiple media outlets called the race for Schuette before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, including Lansing political newsletters MIRS and Gongwer News Service, the Associated Press and Politico.
Schuette, 64, led his three primary challengers by sizable margins in polls, relentlessly touting his fealty to, and endorsement from, President Donald Trump in debates and on the campaign trail.
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And he carried that wide polling lead into the unofficial results, far outpacing Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, of Wayne County, and Saginaw obstetrician Jim Hines, who ran as an outsider in a field of candidates with government experience.
Schuette spoke to supporters from an election-night party in Midland shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday. A few minutes later, Calley conceded the race in prepared video remarks.
“We did it. And tonight, I’m proud to be your Republican nominee for governor of Michigan,” Schuette said, to cheers and applause. “To each and every supporter, my heart is filled with gratitude, and thank you for believing in me. … This victory is yours.”
Schuette said it was his hope that state GOP voters can move forward from a dividing primary and unite behind the common goal of providing more jobs and paychecks to Michigan families. He turned his sights to the favored Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, of East Lansing, saying that her policies would take the state backward.
The Republican primary was notable for contentious exchanges between Schuette and Calley. Schuette has been under fire for allegations, including from Calley, that he misused his public office for personal and political reasons — claims that may prompt a criminal investigation — while Schuette’s campaign attacked Calley for pursuing a master’s degree at Harvard University, insinuating that he skipped work on the public’s dime to do so.
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"The reality is, this is President Trump's Republican Party," Calley said in his concession speech. "His chosen candidates win Republican primaries. We see it happening all across the country. And so I want to say to Bill Schuette: Congraulations."
Calley said he hoped to work with Schuette to unite Republicans to win in the fall.
The primary campaign was, in many ways, a referendum on GOP support for Trump. The controversial president is popular among Republicans, though political observers have said that the winner of Tuesday’s primary will need to temper his support of Trump in order to win over moderates or independent voters in November.
Schuette has said he wants to be Michigan’s jobs governor and is running on what he calls a “paycheck agenda.” He has advocated for rolling back Michigan’s income tax rate, as well as improving K-12 literacy and reforming the state’s no-fault auto insurance system.
“I am proud to stand with Bill Schuette and know that as our next governor, he will lead our state into another decade of prosperity,” Michigan Republican Party chairman Ron Weiser said. “He has my full support and the Michigan Republican Party will work tirelessly to ensure that Bill is victorious in November.”