State Rep. Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids)
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- State Rep. Roy Schmidt says he would like to start talking more about the issues and less about the mistakes he has made.
Schmidt is trying to survive the scandal that began when he switched from the Democratic Party to the Republicans, and snowballed when it was revealed that he conspired to rig his victory in Tuesday's GOP primary for the 76th State House District, which covers Grand Rapids' west side.
Schmidt won the primary, defeating write-in candidate Bing Goei by about 800 votes.
At a Kent County Republican Party reception Tuesday at East Beltline Ave. and Knapp St. NE, party leaders say they are behind Schmidt for re-election.
"The voters spoke and they chose Roy to represent as our nominee, and that's who we are behind," says Sam Moore, Kent County GOP chairman.
Schmidt says he will spend the next three months trying to convince voters his 20-year record in politics outweighs the lying and scheming he did to improve his re-election chances.
On May 15 -- just minutes before the filing deadline for the August 7 primary -- an aide to House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) filed paperwork for Schmidt's party switch. Schmidt and Bolger engineered the switch, and Schmidt offered money to Matt Mojzak, a 22-year-old nutrition store manager, to run as his Democratic opponent. Mojzak dropped out of the race two days after filing.
Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth released a report on the scheme last month, saying neither Schmidt nor Bolger had broken any laws. But Forsyth condemned the politicians' actions, calling it a fraud against the voters.
WZZM 13's Phil Dawson asked Schmidt if Republicans would get behind him considering what had happened.
"I don't know," said Schmidt," but I believe they will."
The lawmaker said his actions were not "very well thought out, not very smart," and he's contrite about what happened.
"I can apologize every single day and probably it won't be enough," said Schmidt.
When asked what accomplishments in his career as a member of the Grand Rapids city commission and in the state house would overshadow the scandal, Schmidt said, "We passed a lot of good ordinances, a lot of things that helped build up to the [Van Andel] Arena, DeVos Place. I was a part of that.
"We took care of our constituents -- whether it was a pothole, a development or other activity. We worked very hard at that, and I was elected four times."
Phil Dawson asked Schmidt when he thought people would stop asking about the scandal.
"It's you, the media, that's asking the questions," said Schmidt. "The news media. It's actually a hot news story and that's why -- for you guys -- it keeps coming back. I fully understand it. Eventually, hopefully, we will get to the issues."
Schmidt will have a Democratic opponent in November. Winnie Brinks received enough votes as a write-in to make her the Democratic candidate