Now that the primary is over, Kent County Republicans are working to get more people to rally behind their nominees.
Even Democrat-turned-Republican State Representative Roy Schmidt Schmidt was among the GOP nominees at a unity rally in Grand Rapids Wednesday night.
He narrowly defeated a write-in candidate who decided to challenge Schmidt in the wake of a criminal investigation into Schmidt's party switch. No charges were brought in the case. However, the Secretary of State's office is still investigating allegations Schmidt violated campaign finance laws.
Schmidt was the only name on the ballot in the 76th house district race. Still, on Tuesday more than 2,000 voters wrote in someone else’s name as a potential Republican candidate instead.
Schmidt says that means there’s lot of people who are still upset with him.
But he’s excited to start focusing on the issues that matter to voters now that the primary election is over. He says he’s ready to talk about real issues, particularly his track record, jobs and education.
“I look forward to actually working very hard. I think it’s going to be a tough campaign. But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could get out to the people and prove myself,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt spoke to the media for the first time since his primary win at the rally for Kent County Republican members. He seemed to fit in at the private party, but most elected officials I asked did not want to talk about Schmidt’s race or his party switch on the record.
“Obviously I think probably everybody is looking forward to getting this behind them,” US Congressman Bill Huizenga said earnestly. “And hey, the voters have another statement to be made in November,” he quickly added.
Sam Moore Chairs the Kent County GOP. He says some primaries were more negative than others, but insists Schmidt's race is now “no different” than any other.
“Now we’ll move forward and start talking about the issues of the campaign. We’re not going to let us be stuck on that one particular issue. We’re going to try to move forward and have an honest discussion about a variety of issues that are important to the 76th district,” Moore said.
Schmidt now faces a Democrat, an independent, and candidates in two other political parties in the general election.
Republican US Senate nominee Pete Hoekstra was the highlight of the event. He started off a five-minute speech by thanking his team, family, supporters, and his former primary competitors.
“We’re one big happy family with a big job to get done. Beating an incumbent senator will not be easy. It is hard work. But I’ve got every ounce of confidence that we can get this done with us all working together,” Hoekstra said.
He says his mission is to hold President Obama and US Senator Debbie Stabenow accountable for their records. He pointed to the stimulus, the Keystone Pipeline and the health care overhaul as examples.
“If we can get those few extra votes in the Senate we can start to do some damage. We can start to reverse the failed policies of President Obama and failed policies of Senate Democrats,” US Congressman Justin Amash told the crowd.
Huizenga, Hoekstra and Amash all stressed the importance of getting Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney elected in November.