Today retired Michigan Supreme Court justice Bob Young officially announced his Republican bid to oust Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018, but Young did not explain why his campaign treasurer is also the treasurer for his GOP opponent’s political action committee.
According to Federal Election Commission records, political consultant Lisa Lisker of suburban Washington serves as treasurer of Young’s newly formed campaign committee but she also serves as treasurer of the Michigan Wins PAC. According to the Michigan Wins website, the PAC is “focused exclusively” on electing Bloomfield Hills businesswoman Lena Epstein to the Senate.
What’s more, it appears that the early stages of Young’s campaign are being run out of Washington by consultant Chris LaCivita. In turn, LaCivita worked alongside west Michigan political operative John Yob when Yob ran Sen. Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential race. Yob’s Grand-Rapids based consulting firm, Strategic National, is now reportedly working on Epstein’s campaign.
These things happen in senatorial contests but the prospect of a grueling GOP Senate primary is becoming more likely by the hour.
A Michigan nonprofit called the National Security and Opportunity Fund, associated with Lansing-based campaign consultant Stu Sandler, has started running online ads calling for a U.S. Senate candidate who has economic smarts and is an “experienced combat veteran with a great understanding of national security.”
The ads don’t name a candidate but they clearly serve as an opening salvo on behalf of John James, president of Detroit-based James Group International and CEO of Renaissance Global Logistics. He is an Iraq War veteran who said earlier this month he is considering entering the race.
A bruising, three-way slugfest in the August 2018 Republican primary may be just what Stabenow needs. The incumbent breezed to re-election in 2006 and 2012 but her bid for a fourth term in ’18 was expected to feature a matchup with a strong GOP contender.
As for Lisker, she is a three-decade veteran of high-profile Republican campaigns, most recently as treasurer for Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid. Previous clients have included the Republican Party, the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and the All Children Matter PAC run by Betsy DeVos, now U.S. Education Secretary, and former GOP political operative Greg Brock.
Regarding Lisker’s odd status as a dual-role campaign treasurer in the Michigan Senate race, she may need to choose sides quickly. Epstein, a first-time candidate, issued a gruff statement today in which she grouped Stabenow and Young as two of a kind, having been “in elected office nearly 60 years combined.”