Republican gubernatorial candidates face off in GR

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbert, Dr. Jim Hines, Kent GOP
Republican gubernatorial candidates at a town hall forum at Kent GOP headquarters on Jan. 29, 2018. Left to right: Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first meeting of Republicans running for governor in Michigan was in Grand Rapids Monday night.

It was a wide-ranging event that included everything from how to attract millennials to building roads and what the role of government should be.

The three candidates who participated, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, State Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines, were looking for a way to distinguish themselves. The polite, invitation-only town hall at the Kent County Republican Committee gave them each an opportunity.

Lt. Gov. Brain Calley emphasized his role in Michigan’s “comeback” under Gov. Rick Snyder and said he could keep it going.

“It’s a really powerful story to be told and it happened under the leadership of the Snyder administration and I’ve been a big part of that, Calley said.

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck pointed to keeping promises not to become part of the establishment during his seven years in Lansing.

“I think the key thing is who’s going to resonate most with what people are looking for and when they have a chance to look at my record, they know that they actually have somebody serving in government that actually has been serving and looking out for their best interest and not their own personal self-interest,” he said.

Political newcomer Dr. Jim Hines thinks his personal approach and lack of political background will be the difference.

“I have 38 years’ experience as a physician putting patients first and now as governor, I want to put people first. Not just Democrats, not just Republicans, but you and your grandchildren and your wife and your grandparents,” he said. “What really are the issues and how can we solve them?”

Most of the town hall discussion focused on policy, but from time to time, a reference was made about the most prominent candidate who didn’t show up: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette — though those references didn’t always call him out by name.

“I’m so thankful that we have at least three out of four of the candidates that have the courage to stand up here and takes questions,” Calley said.

There are least five more similar forums scheduled and independent debates are also being discussed.