State Rep. Roy Schmidt, 76th District (R-Grand Rapids)
2010 photo of Mark Brewer, Michigan Democratic Party chairman. (Courtesy: Detroit Free Press)
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Republican leaders say they are glad to see State Representative Roy Schmidt join their party for his re-election race in the 76th District, but Michigan and Kent County Democrats say his switch on the filing deadline day is "dishonest" and "desperate."
Schmidt, a long-time moderate Democrat who previously served as a non-partisan Grand Rapids city commissioner, announced his switch to the GOP late Tuesday. In an statement emailed to WZZM 13's Peter Ross, Schmidt said he will still be dedicated to serving Grand Rapids, not partisan politics.
"The simple truth is, extreme Democratic Party bosses like Mark Brewer are unwilling to listen to ideas or accept my positions on issues that matter to me and Grand Rapids," Schmidt said in the statement.
Brewer, who is chairman of the state Democratic Party, issued his own statement on Schmidt's switch late Tuesday, saying the move was a "desperate, craven deed."
"It saddens me that in a desperate, cowardly, opportunistic move at the 11th hour, Roy Schmidt abandoned his constituents and the values by which he was elected for the sole purpose of clinging to office and the perks of the job," said Brewer. "He has been deceiving voters for months as this was obviously something he had been planning for some time. He chose this sneaky approach in an attempt to guarantee his reelection."
Kent County Democratic Party chairman Jim Rinck compared Schmidt to an infamous traitor in American history.
"It's very clear that Roy Schmidt is the Benedict Arnold of West Michigan politics," said Rinck in an interview with WZZM 13 News. "This is the most dishonest act I can ever recall."
Schmidt's switch to the Republicans was quickly followed by an unknown submitting his name as the Democratic candidate for the 76th District -- Matt Mojzak. Rinck says Mojzak has no ties to the local Democratic Party.
Mojzak's Facebook page says he graduated from West Catholic High School and attended Aquinas College. He currently works as a manager at the GNC store in Woodland Mall. A Google search for Mojzak led us to a 2008 article from the Advance Newspapers, which profiled his achievements on the West Catholic swim team. WZZM 13's calls to Mojzak were not returned Tuesday night.
Michigan Republican Party chairman Bobby Schostak issued a statement of his own Tuesday, welcoming Schmidt to the GOP and blasting Democrats.
"Representative Roy Schmidt is the latest casualty of the Democratic Party's extreme agenda of politics ahead people, and I applaud Rep. Schmidt for choosing to put his convictions and constituents first by joining the Republican Party," said Schostak. "The parties could not be any different -- Republicans continue to offer serious solutions to defend Michigan's turnaround while Democrats hope to return Michigan to the days of broken budgets, big deficits and failed policies that will derail Michigan's comeback."
Schmidt is seeking his third and final term in the Michigan House.
Statement from Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak about Rep. Roy Schmidt joining the Republican Party:
LANSING - "Representative Roy Schmidt is the latest casualty of the Democratic Party's extreme agenda of politics ahead people, and I applaud Rep. Schmidt for choosing to put his convictions and constituents first by joining the Republican Party. Michigan's economic comeback has just begun and there is still a lot of work to be done. But, make no mistake, the parties could not be any different - Republicans continue to offer serious solutions to defend Michigan's turnaround while Democrats hope to return Michigan to the days of broken budgets, big deficits and failed policies that will derail Michigan's comeback."
MDP Chair Mark Brewer Issues Statement on Roy Schmidt's Decision to Switch Parties:
LANSING - "I never had a cross word with Roy Schmidt and I enjoyed working with him as a Democrat. Unlike the GOP, the Michigan Democratic Party includes a broad spectrum of views from conservative to moderate to progressive, all of whom are welcome in the MDP. Indeed as I issue this statement, I am in Northern Michigan working with Democrats to regain a majority in the State House.
"So, it saddens me that in a desperate, cowardly, opportunistic move at the 11th hour, Roy Schmidt abandoned his constituents and the values by which he was elected for the sole purpose of clinging to office and the perks of the job. . Rather than face a tougher district, Schmidt cut a deal with the Republicans so that no one would run against him in an attempt to ensure his reelection.
"He has been deceiving voters for months as this was obviously something he had been planning for some time. He chose this sneaky approach in an attempt to guarantee his reelection. We demand he immediately return any money raised from Democrats in the past year. We wish Schmidt well in the anti-women, anti-senior, anti-children Republican Party. He should be ashamed of this desperate, craven deed. Only someone who does not possess the conviction or confidence to face the voters would pull a stunt like this. He'll fit in perfectly with the Republicans."
Statement from Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) on Rep. Roy Schmidt's changing parties:
LANSING - "Roy Schmidt has betrayed the voters of Grand Rapids who sent him to Lansing. He turned his back on every person who has written him a check, knocked a door or hosted an event for him. He decided that it was more important to stay in office by any means necessary instead of upholding the principals that he claimed as his own. Schmidt has now joined Republican legislators that have done more harm to Grand Rapids in the last 10 years than ever before. He is now responsible for the pension tax that has robbed money from our seniors, billion dollar education cuts to our kids and public safety cuts to our cities. The citizens of Grand Rapids deserve better."