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State political parties nominate candidates for regent

By Sam Gringlas, Daily News Editor
Published August 24, 2014

Amid the commotion of nominating candidates for several high-profile races, the state’s political parties selected their nominees over the weekend for two seats on the University’s Board of Regents.

Both the Michigan Democratic Party and the Michigan Republican Party held state conventions to officially nominate the candidates who will represent their respective parties in November’s general election. In addition to the closely watched races for senator and governor, two of the eight seats on the University’s governing board are in play this year.

Katherine White and Mike Behm received nominations from the state’s Democrats. White, a current regent, resides in Ann Arbor and is a law professor at Wayne State University. Behm is a University alum and an attorney in Flint.

Rob Steele and Ron Weiser earned the Republican nominations. Steele is a cardiologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the University. Weiser is a businessman who was previously U.S. ambassador to Slovakia under President George Bush and also previously served as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. Both reside in Ann Arbor and graduated from the University.

Steele and Weiser have run for regent before. Steele beat out Weiser for the party’s nomination in 2012 but ultimately lost in the general election.

The nominations were contested during this year’s Republican convention in Novi. Former GOP treasurer Carl Meyers and former regent Dan Horning, who was on the board from 1995 to 2002 and was a candidate in 2012, did not make it on the ballot, according to Michigan GOP spokeswoman Kelli Ford. The party’s two nominees are decided by a ballot vote of convention delegates.

In November, the University’s regents will be elected on a statewide ballot, so the results could be influenced by turnout for other offices, including the gubernatorial race.

In 2012, a presidential election year, Michigan voters elected two Democrats to the board: attorney Mark Bernstein and physician Shauna Ryder Diggs. They replaced two Democratic regents who had opted for retirement over reelection, thus maintaining the partisan status quo.

In 2010, the year Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was elected, the board’s two Republican members achieved reelection.

The board is currently composed of six Democrats and two Republicans. The two seats up for grabs this year are currently held by Democrats.

White was elected in 1998 and again in 2006. Though she recently assumed the role of the board’s chair, she will need to win in November to complete the chairmanship’s yearlong tenure. Her current term as regent expires in January.

The second available seat is the one being vacated by Regent Julia Donovan Darlow (D–Ann Arbor). She was elected in 2006 and last week told The Michigan Daily via e-mail she would not seek another term.