The curse of Michigan's Lt. Governor

The curse of Michigan's Lt. Governor

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No kid ever grows up wanting to be lt. governor, the second banana in state government.

In Michigan there is a rich history of the second-in-charge wanting to use the office as a stepping stone to the top job as governor.  Turns out it’s been a slippery stone as only two of twelve l.g.'s actually made it.

The two winners were lt. governor John Swainson who served as the right-hand man to Gov. Soapy Williams and when he decided to retire, Mr. Swainson ran and won.

Lt. Governor Bill Milliken served in a semi-rocky relationship with Gov. George Romney and when he got Potomac fever and joined the Nixon administration as HUD Secretary, Mr. Milliken became governor and kept the job for a record 14 years.

Before he left office, he picked Jim Brickley as his running mate for the last term with the clear intention that the “Brick” would takeover where Mr. Milliken left off.

GOP candidate Dick Headlee nixed that and propelled the state Republican Party on a new and less moderate course that marked the end of the Milliken era.  A redirection that is still lamented today by what’s left of the moderate wing of the GOP here.

History repeated itself when Lt. Governor Connie Binsfled, whose distinguished state service was celebrated last weekend in Glen Arbor, retired. Gov. John Engler quickly turned to his pal, Senator Dick Posthumus to join the ticket and they won. Mr. Engler would try to pull a Milliken and hand off the job to Mr. Posthumus.

Political unknown Jennifer Granholm pulled a Headlee and ended the Engler reign.

Her lt. governor John Cherry dutifully played second fiddle for eight years.  Everyone in town knew he would run when she could not.

He did run until he shocked the entire political establishment by dropping out clearing the way for two guys named Bernero and Dillon to run.  You know what happened to them.  Think Rick Snyder.

Which brings us to lt. governor Brian Calley. Becoming governor for him is not exactly his top priority even though it must lurk in the back of his head.

First he must survive a convention challenge this August from an unknown Tea Party challenger as some conservatives argue Mr. Calley is not right wing enough to be on the ticket.

If piano player Calley loses, the next time somebody writes about the lt. governor curse, the name  Wes Nakagiri may be inserted here.

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