Thursday, February 23, 2017

Leonard And Chatfield's War On The Lansing Status Quo Is Just Getting Started (And Has Consequences For 2018)

Speaker Pro Tem Lee Chatfield, left, with Speaker Tom Leonard, right

By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At

After years of broken promises from Republican legislators who campaigned on tax cuts and smaller government but consistently governed like Democrats once elected, raising tax after tax and inflating the annual state budget from around $44 billion in 2011 to nearly $54 billion today, Republicans may have finally found leaders in Lansing who will champion conservative causes and subsequently show some spine trying to implement them.

With Thursday's vote on the income tax cut, Speaker Tom Leonard proved he's ready to challenge the Lansing status quo on behalf of taxpayers and the Republican voters who gave the GOP its majority in the State House.

The tax cut was introduced by Leonard's 2nd in command, State Rep. Lee Chatfield.

Leonard called for a vote knowing it would fail, but he wanted members to go on the record regarding where they stand. That's an extremely rare move for a Speaker to make.

The special interests and lobbyists don't like that tax cut.

"As you might expect, (this bill isn't) popular with the establishment and Lansing lobbyists. We'll be facing tough opposition to (this bill) and what it represents, which is real change and an upset to the status quo," Leonard said about the income tax bill. "But YOUR money belongs to YOU, not the government, and this bill makes that clear! Our president showed that you can take a conservative message directly to the voters of Michigan and win, and we intend to do just that."

The corporate media doesn't like the bill, either....

Stephen Henderson from The Detroit Free Press chastised Leonard, writing:

"(I)t only failed by three votes, 55-52. And that despite this clapback from their own caucus, Leonard — with the enthusiastic assistance of state Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering — is likely to try again...

Indeed, the whole episode — a 12-hour drama of coaxing and prodding, the House floor opening and closing, then holding a vote that the Speaker did not have enough support to sway in his favor — points up Leonard's profound inexperience. That's not entirely his fault; term limits mean we will perpetually have amateurs in charge. But Leonard showed Wednesday night just how much learning he has to do."

For liberals like Henderson, tax cuts are theft from the big government nanny state they treasure.

Henderson and his far left allies never met a tax hike they didn't like, and they probably never will-unless the legislature considers a newspaper tax or a tax on abortions...

It's worth noting that under Jennifer Granholm, the hike from 3.9% to 4.35% was only supposed to be temporary, reverting back to 3.9%  a few years later. Instead, Gov. Snyder and the Republican legislature changed it to 4.25% and patted themselves on the back for a tax cut, subsequently refusing to honor that promise of reinstituting the original rate.

A few "so called" Republicans as President Trump might say-12 of them-opposed the measure. 49 stood with Leonard and Chatfield, and even a Democrat, Scott Dianda, said enough is enough.

In the aftermath of the vote, Speaker Leonard stripped State Rep. Jason Sheppard of his Committee Chairmanship for apparently lying about how he would vote, and State Rep. Dave Pagel called for an investigation into the Speaker.

Conservative activist Matt Hall, a MIGOP State Committee member and former Trump delegate on the rules committee in Cleveland, blasted the Republicans who voted against the move.

"When Republicans shun our core principles we betray our base and lose elections. I am disappointed in Reps. Chris Afendoulis, Julie Calley, Kathy Crawford, Daniela Garcia, Larry Inman, Jim Lilly, Dave Maturen, Mike McCready, Dave Pagel, Brett Roberts, Jason Sheppard, and Scott Van Singel, who voted against a modest income tax cut for hard working taxpayers. I expect these legislators (some of whom are my friends and normally very principled Republicans) to work hard moving forward to regain the trust of Republican voters by making Government more efficient and restoring liberties to Michigan citizens!"

My State Rep., Jim Lilly, voted against the tax cut, as did his pal Daniela Garcia. Garcia, who is likely to seek State Senator Arlan Meekhof's seat in 2018, is doing a great job following in Meekhof's footsteps.

In 2014, Meekhof sent out mailers saying he would fight tax increases, total lies! He then turned around and led the fight for Prop 1... It's worth noting Meekhof also opposed the House income tax cut-no surprise there!

The fight over Chatfield's income tax cut is just the beginning. The next big battle will likely be State Rep. Gary Glenn's legislation to repeal and replace Common Core.

Common Core was passed by a Republican legislature, signed by Gov. Snyder, and the corporate media is a big cheerleader for it, so don't be shocked when the same old players spout the same old BS.

Glenn's Common Core repeal won't be the last battle in this war-expect a two year brawl in Lansing over a myriad of issues as the system continues to do everything it can to fight conservative reforms from taking hold.

If Republicans don't follow Leonard and Chatfield's gameplan, showing bold leadership and delivering results for the conservative Michiganders who elected them, they will soon find themselves out of power in 2018. A government of, by, and for the special interests, lobbyists, and big donors will not survive.

Though Democrats won't change the status quo, they will campaign under that premise. Gretchen Whitmer will ride that wave all the way to the Governor's office as more than just a few conservatives stay home, fed up with years of broken promises and excuses. Even the prospect of dumping Senator Debbie Stabenow-a steep hill to climb already-won't be enough to save the GOP.

The 12 Republicans who voted against the income tax cut bill can be reached below:

Chris Afendoulis (517) 373-0218
Julie Calley (517) 373-0842
Kathy Crawford (517) 373-0827...
Larry Inman (517) 373-1766
Jim Lilly (517) 373-0838
Dave Maturen (517) 373-1787
Mike McCready (517) 373-8670
Scott VanSingel (517) 373-7317
Jason Sheppard (517) 373-2617
Brett Roberts (517) 373-1775
Daniela Garcia (517) 373-0830
Dave Pagel (517) 373-1796
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at


  1. Calm down, buddy. It's just not the right time for this. We will get there but for the time being we need to stay the course.

  2. These roll call votes expose closet Democrats like Kathy Crawford and Mike McCready. Merely winning an open primary does not prove anybody to be an actual Republican! Kudos to Tom Leonard for demonstrating actual leadership instead of accommodating progressive members of his Republican caucus and the nerd they serve.

  3. Meekhof for smaller government? hahahahaha

  4. Leonard And Chatfield, great start.

  5. Kabuki theater. Leonard knew this wouldn't get past the Gov's desk. His progressive history betrays him. Did you forget so soon? "Conservative"? You're hysterical, Brandon. Sheesh, wake up and smell the toast burning.

  6. Thanks to Leonard And Chatfield and all the true statesmen!!

  7. Yet Chatfield voted for the gas tax....