LANSING (AP) — The Republican majority on a Senate panel voted yesterday to reject the reappointment of a Democratic nominee to the state elections board, a rare move that Gov. Jennifer Granholm blasted as partisan.It was the first denial of a gubernatorial appointment in 15 years.The Senate Government Operations Committee voted 4-3 along party lines to urge the full Senate to reject the appointment of Dorothy Jones, who has been on the board for eight years as an appointee of former Gov. John Engler, a Republican. Granholm recently appointed Jones to another four-year term.The full Senate is expected to vote today on Jones’s appointment. It’s likely her appointment will voted down, since Republicans hold a 22-16 majority.Granholm, a Democrat who has been frustrated by what she sees as increased Republican partisanship, expressed disgust with the panel’s action.“It is outrageous. I am furious,” she said after the vote. “They abdicated their duty for partisan reasons.”Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema and other GOP lawmakers, however, said Jones violated her oath of office last year by not certifying petitions for a gay marriage constitutional amendment or an effort by Republicans to get presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the November ballot as an independent.They cited a 2004 state appeals court ruling, which said the board breached a legal duty by not certifying the gay marriage proposal even though it was in the proper form and had enough signatures.“She attempted to disenfranchise the constitutional right of hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens to place issues of importance to them on the ballot,” said Sikkema, who voted to reject Jones’ appointment.Jones, of Ypsilanti, is one of two Democrats on the four-member Board of State Canvassers, which reviews proposed ballot measures and other election issues. The board is required to have two Republicans and two Democrats.Jones was first appointed by Engler in 1997 and reappointed in 2001.She told the committee that the board should not be a rubber stamp. The gay marriage amendment, she said, had confusing language.“I always tried hard to do my duty to the best of my ability,” Jones said.Republicans said the board’s role isn’t to decide whether voters will understand the effect of a ballot question. That should be left to the courts after an election, they said.But Granholm defended Jones’s actions, saying she upheld her constitutional responsibilities.“She is getting rejected because she asked tough questions and fought for clear and understandable wording on a ballot proposal on behalf of the voters of Michigan,” Granholm said. “What she has done is uphold the law and refuse to be a rubber stamp for anyone’s partisan point of view. For that, she is about to be dismissed, which should offend every person in this state.”Along with Jones, Granholm also made an appointment to the board of canvassers for Republicans. She said the GOP did not submit names of potential nominees by a Jan. 10 deadline, so she picked Lyn Bankes of Livonia, a former state lawmaker.Sikkema spokesman Ari Adler said the moderate Bankes was not acceptable to some Republicans, but denied the vote against Jones was retribution for Bankes’ appointment. The panel didn’t take action Tuesday on Bankes’ appointment, but it’s expected to take effect in 60 days since the Senate won’t reject the appointment.In defending Jones, Democrats noted that Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land refused to accept Nader’s nomination by the Reform Party of Michigan after a second group also claimed to be the legitimate state Reform Party.They also said voters were misled by language in the since-approved gay marriage amendment that could strip public employees of same-sex benefits.Democratic Sen. Buzz Thomas of Detroit said Jones, who is black, reflects diversity on the board. He said most of the board’s decisions were unanimous.“It does seem unfortunate that we’re questioning two out of 100,” Thomas said.Kim Trent of Detroit told lawmakers she was concerned that the first board nominee to be rejected in years was black.“That’s very troubling,” Trent said during the committee hearing. “Our state should project the importance of unity.”Four Republicans voted to reject Jones’ appointment: Sikkema and Sens. Jason Allen of Traverse City, Bev Hammerstrom of Temperance and Nancy Cassis of Novi. The Democrats voting to approve the appointment were Thomas, Minority Leader Bob Emerson of Flint and Gilda Jacobs of Huntington Woods.According to Senate Secretary Carol Viventi, the last rejection of a gubernatorial nominee came in 1990, when the Republican-controlled Senate blocked Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard’s attempt to appoint several people to commissions and boards near the end of his term.

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