Right wing activists are targeting pro-equality, northern Michigan Republican Frank Foster for ouster over his support for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's civil rights law.

Equality Debate Used As Campaign Fodder By Far Right

Aug. 5 Primary Snapshot Sees Critical Battle Underway In Michigan Republican Party

By Todd Heywood

Right wing activists are targeting a pro-equality, northern Michigan Republican for ouster over his support for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's civil rights law. Conservative activist, former Republican lawmaker and resident of Wisconsin Jack Hoogendyk sent a plea for funding for Lee Chatfield's challenge of Rep. Frank Foster (R-107) on July 23.

"For those of you who are not aware, there is an election in Northern Michigan upon which all eyes in Lansing are focused, and which could have a huge impact in determining our future religious liberty," the email, paid for by The Institute for Conservative Enlightenment PAC, continues, "This election features Republican incumbent Rep. Frank Foster of Petoskey who has become a crusader for the homosexual agenda. Foster has requested language for a bill, which would add homosexuals to the Michigan civil rights code. The question in this election is whether a Republican can champion the radical homosexual agenda and survive politically. Many squishy Republicans are watching to see how this will come out."

The email goes on to request financial support for Chatfield, who works as a teacher for a Christian academy in northern Michigan.

"People of faith have a lot riding on this election," the fundraising request concludes. "You can help to send a powerful message to Lansing about Republicans who embrace the radical homosexual agenda, one with which the House Speaker, the Senate Leader and the Governor are all currently flirting. Any financial help you could give to Lee would be vitally important to the outcome of this race."

Equality Debate

While Foster has been a voice for equality in the GOP dominated state house, he has not been endorsed by Equality Michigan's PAC. The battle in the 107th is not the only place in Michigan where equality is campaign fodder. On Monday, The Madison Project PAC, a rightwing political action committee run by Hoogendyk, issued endorsements in races across the state. In the endorsement announcement, Hoodendyk claims Republicans in Lansing are prepared to increase the gas tax - a move being contemplated to fix Michigan's crumbling roads - and "pass s legislation to discriminate against Christian businesses that don't want to participate in homosexual wedding ceremonies."

The latter allegation is an assault on legislation to amend Michigan's civil rights law, Elliot-Larsen, to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Right wing advocates fear amending the law will result in a floodgate of complaints against businesses that refuse to provide services to people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Advocates often cite the case of a Colorado bakery that was recently punished by the state for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage celebration.

Equality Michigan said it was busy focusing "on moving Michigan forward," and would not respond to the allegations in the Madison Project release.

Anti-Gay Tom McMillin Seeks U.S. Rep. Seat

Meanwhile, conservative state representative Tom McMillin is waging a campaign by U.S. mail to replace retiring 8th Congressional Rep. Mike Rogers. Rogers announced earlier this year that he was retiring from Congress after seven terms in order to pursue a radio show. McMillin is in a pitched battle for the Republican nomination against former Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. Bishop is the odds on establishment choice; McMillin is being supported by Tea Party groups.

McMillin has sent at least six mailings to voters in the district, which spans Ingham, Livingston and northern Oakland counties. In the most recent piece, he promises to "stop the invasion" of unaccompanied children from Central America.

Despite his blanket mailings to the district, McMillin is trailing Bishop by 12 points according to an EPIC-MRA poll. The Free Press reports that when polling participants were informed that Bishop had been endorsed by Rogers, his lead jumped to 52 percent over McMillin's 32 percent. McMillin tells the Free Press his internal polling shows him down by 8 points. He told the paper that his votes increase when voters are told he has been endorsed by the Tea Party Express.

Moving into the primary election in August, according to July 15 financial reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, Bishop had raised $344,525.91, with $231,073.50 on hand. McMillin raised $180,662.98 and had $129,351.99 on hand.

Attorney General Schuette Faces Uphill Battle

In the race for Attorney General, incumbent Bill Schuette, a Republican, got bad news last week when a new statewide poll from EPIC-MRA found he was facing an uphill battle in his bid for re-election. The poll found only 39 percent of voters planned to cast their ballot for him. Democratic challenger Mark Totten got 33 percent, while 28 percent of voters were undecided.

Bernie Porn, pollster for EPIC-MRA, says those numbers should concern Schuette, but MLive reports the AG is not worried. In fact, Tim Skubick reports at MLive that the AG - who has fought marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act and medical marijuana implementation - expects to win the November general election by "6-7 points."

Governor's Race Tightens, Peters In Lead For US Senate Seat

In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Mark Schauer has closed a 9 point gap in his challenge to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Schauer is now trailing Snyder by only 3 points, within the poll's four percent margin of error. In the race to replace retiring Senator Carl Levin (D-Detroit), Democrat Gary Peters is leading former Republican Secretary of State and defacto Republican nominee for Senate Terri Lynn Land by 9 points.

Openly LGBT Candidates

Four openly gay candidates seeking state office Aug. 5 have been endorsed by BTL as follows:

Garnet Lewis is running in the 32nd District which includes Saginaw, Zilwaukee, Tittabawassee Township, Frankenmuth and Swartz Creek. Check out the campaign website http://www.garnetlewis.com

Jon Hoadley is running for State Representative in the 60th District which includes Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township. Check out the campaign website http://www.jonhoadley.com

Hoadley is squaring off against David Buskirk and Pamela Brown Goodacre is a hotly contested seat. Hoadley has outraised and outspent his primary opponents according to campaign finance reports.

Jeremy Moss is running for State Representative in the 35th District which includes Southfield and Lathrup Village. Check out the campaign website http://www.jeremyforsouthfield.com

Rudy Serra is running for State Representative for the 27th District which is made up of several South Oakland County communities including Hazel Park, Ferndale and Berkley. Check out the campaign website http://rudyserra.ngpvanhost.com


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