More media than constituents at Schmidt’s first post-party-switch coffee hours

Aug 28, 2012

Thursday morning the public got their first chance to sit down one-on-one with Democrat-turned-Republican Roy Schmidt since he switched political parties in May. The State Representative from Grand Rapids has been dealing with the political fallout ever since.

But at the coffee visit things seemed back to normal; assuming you ignore the massive media presence, which is not normal at these kinds of informal events.

About a dozen people stopped by, mostly to chat with Schmidt about specific issues; privatizing the veteran’s home in town, a project to restore the Grand River downtown, the economy, and loans for homeowners.

Most people avoided the TV cameras and microphones hovering nearby.

Schmidt meets with staff while waiting for constituents to visit him during public coffee hours.
Schmidt meets with staff while waiting for constituents to visit him during public coffee hours.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Keith Johnson is a Schmidt supporter and friend. He sort of glared at the media with contempt and said the news reports about Schmidt are getting ridiculous. He mentioned a morning’s live TV shot from outside the restaurant as an example.

“It wasn’t Roy’s holding an open coffee thing here at Brann’s – it was the scandal and this that and the other and then the bother to tell you about it. And quite honestly, I’m up to here with the whole crap,” Johnson said.

Schmidt has been campaigning door-to-door since he narrowly won the Republican nomination in August. He says he is pleasantly surprised that he was not asked much about his party switch.

“People know who I am at every door now. (laughs) The notoriety whether I like it or not, but it can bring about really some conversation on why I switched and whatever. But today was amazing it was really what I would call a typical coffee hour,” Schmidt said following the two hour long event.

Michigan’s Secretary of State is still investigating whether Schmidt broke campaign finance laws when he offered to pay someone to run against him as a Democrat.

Leaders of the Democratic Party believe there’s enough evidence to prove that Schmidt and others conspired to commit perjury and obstructed justice. The Ingham Circuit Judges have empanelled a one-person grand jury to investigate the election scheme. (That news didn't come out until after Schmidt's coffee hours.)