Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s inevitable 2018 gubernatorial campaign suffered its first blow way back in the 2014 election season when tea partiers tried to knock him off the Republican ticket as Gov. Rick Snyder’s running mate.

Calley’s unofficial campaign launch last spring featured a disastrous attempt at a petition drive calling for a part-time legislature.

And now, the lieutenant governor’s camp apparently believes it can divert conservative voters from Attorney General Bill Schuette, the GOP frontrunner, by talking up the strength of the campaign waged by the tea party’s favorite underdog, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton Township.

That’s according to political consultant Dennis Lennox, who sees Calley’s struggling campaign trying to deal with Gov. Rick Snyder’s lack of political pull within the party.

Writing in an Op-Ed for today’s Detroit News, Lennox sees the LG’s lowly spot in the polls as partially the result of Snyder’s refusal to engage in political patronage over the past seven years. The term-limited governor’s failure to grant hundreds of executive appointments to “Republican foot soldiers” means that no “Snyder machine” exists to help Calley succeed him in November.

Lennox concludes that Calley’s “false flag operation” to split the conservative vote between Schuette and Colbeck probably won’t work, partly due to Schuette’s backing from President Donald Trump.

What’s more, the LG may be latching onto a strategy that, at best, might have short-term success. That’s because Colbeck’s campaign has gained so little traction – and raised a paltry amount of campaign dollars – that the senator probably will no longer be in the running when the August primary rolls around.