LANSING, Mich. - Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Republican nominee for governor, named Kent County Clerk and former state representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons as his running mate for the November election.
Lyons, of Alto, who is the current Kent County clerk and who served in the Michigan House from 2011 through 2016, joined Schuette at an announcement in Grand Rapids, shortly before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"In Lisa Posthumus Lyons we have a person of great talent," Schuette said in a news release.
"Her service in the Michigan Legislature was exceptional. She led the education committee and understands that reading is the key ingredient for Michigan’s ability to grow.
But the appointment drew criticism from some party activists, who spoke out on Facebook and other social media, partly because Lyons disavowed then presidential nominee Donald Trump shortly before the 2016 presidential election, after a tape was released in which he made vulgar comments about women.
Schuette also has media events planned in Lansing around lunchtime and in Bloomfield Hills in mid-afternoon. The Free Press reported Lyons was Schuette's choice early Wednesday morning.
Lyons, who chaired the House education and elections and ethics committees, is the daughter of Dick Posthumus, who is chief of staff to Gov. Rick Snyder and served as lieutenant governor to former Gov. John Engler from 1999 through 2002.
Lyons has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and natural resources communications from Michigan State University.
Schuette said he has known Lyons for manyyears and values her leadership on policy issues and her commitment to her family. Also, "Lisa comes from a family of accomplishment and service to Michigan," he said.
Lyons, who did not immediately respond to a text message Wednesday morning, said in the news release that Michigan faces a choice between continuing to move forward, or moving backwards.
“When I entered the Legislature, Michigan was flat on its back," she said. "But we worked hard, reformed government, and got Michigan back on its feet."
Lyons' name emerged in recent days as something of a surprise, with early speculation focused on Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, a former Michigan secretary of state, and state Rep. Laura Cox of Livonia, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and a candidate for the state Senate.
In October 2016, shortly before the presidential election, Lyons split with then-Republican nominee Donald Trump after the release of an Access Hollywood tape in which he is heard boasting in vulgar terms about grabbing and kissing women without their consent.
Lyons issued a statement that said "Donald Trump has not earned my respect or my vote."
She said "demeaning women and disrespecting others is unacceptable behavior," and she teaches her four children "to exemplify respect and integrity." Lyons added: "I do not tolerate anything less from my kids, and I will not tolerate anything less from someone who wants to be president of the United States."
Schuette, who initially supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president but became a staunch Trump loyalist, spent much of the primary campaign attacking his chief rival, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, for similarly breaking with Trump after the tape was released.
Former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, the Democratic nominee for governor, has yet to announce her choice of running mate.
Joan Fabiano, organizer of the conservative group Grassroots in Michigan, posted on Facebook Wednesday: "I guess Candice Miller didn't want the job/"
Fabiano told the Free Press Lyons "would not be my pick," but she said she understood the choice because western Michigan and fund-raising are important and the object is winning. "To me, it's still better than Whitmer," Fabiano said.
Democrats and liberal groups immediately attacked the choice, with Lansing-based Progress Michigan saying it "represents a doubling-down on failed Republican policies that have stacked the deck in favor of shady corporate donors and rigged the rules against Michigan's working families."
The Michigan Democratic Party criticized Lyons for thousands of dollars in campaign donations she has received from Michigan businesswoman Betsy DeVos, who is now Trump's Education Secretary, and for her remark that "pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered," in an apparent reference to school teachers, during a 2013 debate over dissolving school districts.
“Lyons mocked public school teachers who were losing their jobs, and has been a part of the failed status quo in Lansing that let our roads crumble and dirty water run through our taps" said state Democratic Chairman Brandon Dillon.
But Republican pollster Steve Mitchell, chairman of Michigan-based Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc., said Lyons is "a tremendous candidate" who brings several strengths to the tickets.
First, successfully running a large organization such as the Kent County clerk's office shows she has the skills and experience needed to do the job, Mitchell said.
The fact her father held the job is significant, since he would have talked about the role and passed on wisdom around the family dinner table, he said.
Also, the name Posthumus is highly respected and "you can't win Michigan as a Republican unless you consolidate western Michigan."
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.
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