EAST LANSING — Michigan Republicans picked former judge and congressman Bill Schuette as their nominee for attorney general and Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson for secretary of state at their state convention Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Schuette edged out term-limited Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop of Rochester as the GOP nominee by slightly more than 100 votes from the 2,000 or so delegates gathered.
For secretary of state, Republicans first narrowed the field from five to two, and then selected a nominee.
Surviving the initial balloting was Johnson and state Sen. Cameron Brown of Fawn River Township. Unsuccessfully seeking the nomination were Calhoun County Clerk Anne Norlander, state Sen. Michelle McManus of Lake Leelanau and state Rep. Paul Scott of Grand Blanc.
Johnson won the runoff against Brown by a margin of 1,089 to 974.
Republicans also voted by a large margin to oppose holding a Constitutional Convention. That question appears on the November ballot this year and is asked of voters every 16 years. Such a convention was last approved in 1962.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Mary Beth Kelly won the nomination for state Supreme Court and will appear on the ballot with GOP Justice Robert Young.
Republicans also had their first challenge to unity from the tea party movement they hope to embrace, and a challenge to their temperaments from difficulty getting their delegates seated for the start of their convention.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser called the convention to order 46 minutes after its scheduled 10 a.m. beginning and apologized to delegates, who were let into the arena without their credentials in order to get the nominating convention moving.
Slightly more than an hour later, around noon, the west Michigan tea party group nominated a challenger to lieutenant governor nominee Brian Calley, gubernatorial candidate Rich Snyder's pick for a running mate.
They put up businessman Bill Porter as a challenger and it wasn't clear on a voice vote or a show of hands who the arena full of delegates favored.
Delegates called for a roll call vote. After a short aside by convention leadership, Porter addressed the delegates and urged them to support Calley.
"There were more hands raised for Brian Calley," said Cooper, who removed his name from the ballot and asked delegates to change the nominating process after the Nov. 2 election if they didn't like the current process.
Snyder, the Republican candidate for governor, took the podium shortly after noon, urging delegates to pull together to reinvent Michigan, his constant campaign theme.
The theme of the convention was "One Chance."
"Today is a day of challenges and it's also a day of to come together," Snyder told the delegates. "We have one chance here."
Following the convention, Snyder launched a bus tour following to push his 10-point plan to reinvent Michigan. He has stops scheduled in Southfield and Lake Orion Sunday.
Snyder will be at the Original Pancake House, 19355 West 10 Mile Road in Southfield, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to visit with restaurant patrons.
He'll be in Lake Orion from 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. for the "Dragon on the Lake" opening ceremonies at Green Park, 100 N. Park Boulevard in Lake Orion.
There were early signs that the tea party movement — which met in a pre-convention Friday evening in nearby Holt — would come into play at the GOP convention.
The pre-convention meeting of tea party delegates the previous evening gave the nod to Bishop by eight votes in a straw poll for nominating an attorney general, said delegate Richard Polling of Lyon Township, calling the contest a "horse race." Johnson also won the tea party straw poll.
The start of the convention was slowed by difficulty in processing delegate's credentials and Weiser, the party chairman, apologized after calling the convention open.
"We screwed up," he said. "This is a record crowd. I apologize to all those who stood in line."
He then addressed the party's real target in November — Democrats.
"To be clear, we must beat the Democrats, both those who are Democrats and those who are masquerading as Democrats," he said.
The reference to masquerading was pointed at a group called Tea Party that is seeking political party status on the November ballot.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, the convention chairman, made his remarks shortly after Weiser's with a swipe at Democratic gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero, who was at the Democrats' state convention in Detroit.
"I want to thank Virg Bernero for designing the reception table outside," he said before launching into more fiery rhetoric.
"Here in Michigan, we're going to take our government back, and in Washington, we're going to stop the Obama wreck," he said. "And you ladies and gentlemen are the shock troops, you're the ones right on the line."
While the Republican convention was scheduled to conclude Saturday evening, Democrats were scheduled to continue their two-day event Sunday at Cobo Center.
Bernero stuck to his schedule Saturday and announced his choice of Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence as his running mate.
Democrats already picked Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton as their nominee for attorney general and Jocelyn Benson for secretary of state at an endorsement event in April.
Leyton wasted no time criticizing the Republicans' choice of Schuette.
"The Republicans today nominated a career politician for attorney general," Leyton spokesman Todd Cook said in a statement Saturday. "His nomination is a product of the Republican political elite. Bill Schuette has never prosecuted a single criminal. Not one. Schuette has never tried a case in a court of law. Yet he asks voters to elect him as the state’s chief law enforcement officer."
Here is the list of statewide candidates nominated Saturday at the Michigan Republican Party convention:
— Governor: Rick Snyder
— Lieutenant Governor: Brian Calley
— Attorney General: Former Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette
— Secretary of State: Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson
— State Board of Education: Eileen Weiser, Richard Zeile
— University of Michigan Board of Regents: Incumbents Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner
— Michigan State University Board of Trustees: Brian Breslin, Mitch Lyons
— Wayne State University Board of Governors: Incumbent Diane Dunaskiss, Danialle Karmanos
— Michigan Supreme Court: Incumbent Justice Robert Young, Judge Mary Beth Kelly.
Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @crummc.