Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

October 8, 2012

Bolger launches ads in normally safe GOP district

SCOTTS (AP) — Michigan Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger launched radio ads last week attacking his Democratic opponent in district that's traditionally safe for the GOP.

The ads against Democrat Bill Farmer, of Scotts, began amid continued concerns about Bolger's role in a state representative switching parties.

Bolger, of Marshall, calls Farmer a "liberal's liberal" in the ad, and says he has —never taken the voters for granted." But the southwestern Michigan district is one in which Republicans typically don't have to fight hard for victory.

"Certainly it would be a concern if I was running with Jase Bolger's record," Lorence Wenke, a Republican who represented Bolger's 63rd District from 2002 to 2008, told Mlive.com for a story published Saturday. "Normally, the seat is so safe most of us didn't put forth a whole lot of effort or expenses" in general elections.

Wenke believes Bolger will win, but is among those concerned about the race in the wake of recent developments.

An Ingham County judge acting as a one-person grand jury is deciding whether to charge Bolger — or anyone else — in the case of former Democratic Rep. Roy Schmidt changing parties just before the Aug. 7 primary election deadline. Authorities say Schmidt offered money to a political novice to run as a Democrat against him.

Bolger told Mlive.com that the topic only occasionally comes up in his conversations with voters.

"What I hear repeatedly is that everything that could be said has been said, every opinion has been written and people want to focus on the issues, not the politics," he said.

The arbitration specialist for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees says Farmer has received supportive calls from people across the state. He also recently amended his campaign finance report to say he will raise more than $1,000 — once an unlikely scenario.

"To me, it just doesn't matter what the results of the grand jury investigation are," Farmer said. "To me, Speaker Bolger stepped over a line and lost the public's trust. But ultimately, where it goes and how it's settled is out there with voters."

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