Posted on November 23, 2005

GOP Hopefuls Oppose Initiative

Neil Tambe, Michigan Daily (Ann Arbor), Nov. 22

Republican candidates hoping for success in next year’s state elections have recently taken opposing stances on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, but these endorsements may not mean much for the outcome of the elections.

MCRI is a proposed ballot measure expected to be on next November’s statewide ballot. If passed, the measure would ban preferential treatment by the state or its public colleges and universities on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

Republicans who have recently voiced opinions about the ballot initiative are vying for the chance to challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D — Lansing) and Gov. Jennifer Granholm for their seats next fall.

U.S. Senate candidate Jerry Zandstra remains the lone candidate supporting MCRI, with other Senate candidates Michael Bouchard and Keith Butler and gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos having expressed opposition to the ballot initiative.

“We’re very pleased, but not really surprised (about Republican opposition to MCRI),” said Martin Waymire, spokesman for One United Michigan, a coalition that aims to defend affirmative action and outreach programs that benefit women and minorities. Waymire speculated that the GOP candidates who opposed MCRI did so because it is an extreme measure. He added that the candidates might want to change affirmative action but oppose the initiative because of its potential immediate effects and consequences.

Luke Massie, national co-chair for the pro-affirmative action group BAMN, was not as upbeat about the news of Republican opposition to MCRI. “The Republican opposition (to MCRI) is token opposition,” he said.

Still, experts say the candidates’ opposition or support will probably not have a significant effect on MCRI’s chances of success, or on the outcome of the primary or general elections.