LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans said Wednesday they won't back off their plans for education, the economy or other priorities despite the apparent recall of a GOP state lawmaker.
Republican Rep. Paul Scott of Grand Blanc, chairman of the House Education Committee, says he accepts results that show he narrowly lost a recall election Tuesday in his district representing part of Genesee County. He would be the first Michigan state lawmaker recalled since 1983.
The Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, had targeted Scott for supporting laws weakening teacher tenure and cutting education funding. Scott's support of Republican-backed laws to cut business taxes while taxing some forms of retirement income also was a factor in the recall election.
"We are certainly disappointed, but will forge ahead with our efforts to reinvent Michigan, continue the state's comeback and make the tough decisions that have been put off far too long," Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration said in a statement Wednesday. "This was not about Rick Snyder or the Republican agenda. This was about entrenched special interests wanting to preserve the status quo and putting politics ahead of reform."
Snyder is in his first year as governor. He has sizeable Republican majorities in both the Senate and House.
Public employee unions said Wednesday that the Scott recall election is a voter statement of unrest with Republican-backed changes approved this year.
"While it was a close, hard-fought race, voters have clearly spoken — they're fed up with Republican politicians in Lansing attacking public education and the middle class," MEA President Steven Cook said in a statement.
Karla Swift, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, said Tuesday's election "should be a wake-up call for Gov. Snyder about what happens when politicians go too far."
Unofficial results from Genesee County show had Scott losing by 197 votes — 12,284 to 12,087 — with all of the precincts reporting. Election results could be certified within a week.
Scott said he wasn't anticipating a recount but Ari Adler, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger, said a recount hasn't been ruled out. An elections attorney has been hired to look over what Adler referred to as voting "irregularities."
Scott technically remains in office until the vote is certified, but he did not appear at committee meetings or the House floor Wednesday. Adler said he is not expected back at House session before he is officially removed from office.
A special election would be held Feb. 28 to finish the rest of Scott's two-year term, which runs through the end of 2012. Political parties would nominate candidates after election results are finalized. No primaries will be held. Scott is ineligible to run.
With a move that indicates Republicans plan on continuing proposed education policy changes such as the expansion of charter school opportunities, a conservative Republican — Rep. Tom McMillin of Rochester Hills — was appointed interim House Education Committee chairman.
McMillin and Republican Senate Education Committee chairman Phil Pavlov said they plan to continue with reform efforts.
Republican leaders said they don't consider Tuesday's election to be a referendum on their policies. The 51st House District represents less than 1 percent of the state's population, the vote was close, and the MEA spent heavily to target Scott. The union reported spending at least $140,000 through mid-October and continued spending through the election.
Adler said Bolger believes the recall will "increase the resolve" of House Republicans to continue with changes.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said the election shows that "special interest groups spent a lot of money to misinform a group of people, an electorate."
Richardville said Republican lawmakers won't lose momentum because of the recall.
"I see just the opposite," he said. "Nothing's going to slow down. I really don't see this as a change to what we're doing or how we're going to do it."Tags: