Senator Patrick Colbeck speaks at Hillsdale College. Josh Pal­adino | Courtesy

With the Con­sti­tution in the pocket of his suit jacket and a finger pointed toward the sky, Michigan State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, said: “I know who I serve. I know why I’m serving.”

Colbeck, who rep­re­sents the 7th Dis­trict in Wayne County, is running to replace Michigan’s Repub­lican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is term limited. On Wednesday night in Lane 335, he gave a short speech, then fielded ques­tions from the audience for more than an hour, noting that none of the other Repub­lican can­di­dates talked to their prospective con­stituents with such candor.

“You need someone who is willing to speak truth to power,” he said, “and the other can­di­dates just won’t do it.”

In the Repub­lican primary, he’s up against Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov.  Brian Calley, who have wide­spread name recog­nition and much fatter cam­paign coffers. According to the Detroit Free Press, Colbeck has raised a meager $243,00 com­pared to Schuette’s $3 million and Calley’s $1.8 million.

But that’s where he said he’s most com­fortable.

He’s an out­sider can­didate, a longshot, but that’s the history of his seven years in the Michigan Senate, he said.

“I ran because I’m tired of cronyism — at all dif­ferent levels,” he said.

Colbeck earned his Senate seat in a longshot bid, too. Never having held public office, he faced four state house rep­re­sen­ta­tives and beat them all.

Since he began the cam­paign, he has built a grass­roots movement with little funding and hardly any name recog­nition outside of his dis­trict. He said it stands opposed to what he calls the “Lansing oli­garchy” — the trio of Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt Township; Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Ottawa County; and Snyder.

In two polls on Real Clear Pol­itics, he reg­is­tered at 3 percent and 4 percent, while the Repub­lican primary favorite, Schuette, hovered between 30 and 50 percent.

He said, luckily for him, at least 50 percent of voters remain unde­cided with four months before Michigan’s Aug. 7 primary. In the general election, the Repub­lican victor would likely face former Senate Demo­c­ratic Leader Gretchen Whitmore or Abdul El-Sayed, the former exec­utive director of the Detroit Health Department.

Colbeck said his cam­paign slogan — “prin­cipled solu­tions for Michigan” — informs his cam­paign and every vote he takes as a Senator.

The first prin­ciple is “The gov­ernment works for the people, not the other way around,” he said.

He said Lansing doesn’t follow this prin­ciple for basic ser­vices, like road main­te­nance.

“The whole issue with our roads is that they’re treating it as a jobs program instead of a public service program,” Colbeck said. “The Michigan Department of Trans­portation is not focused on quality.”

As evi­dence, he cited a MDOT study that looked at dif­ferent road main­te­nance tech­niques and the number of union jobs that would result  from each.

Colbeck earned his Senate seat during the Tea Party movement, which has cost him political capital in the Senate Repub­lican Caucus.

He said he was the only Repub­lican Senator not to receive a com­mittee chair­manship during his second term.

Colbeck said Meekhof told him he couldn’t give him a lead­ership position because he was “too vocal” against Oba­macare and Common Core.

“I told him: ‘You know I’m on the Repub­lican side of these issues, right?’” Colbeck said.

He was the leading Repub­lican voice against the Patient Pro­tection and Affordable Care Act, and specif­i­cally Med­icaid expansion, which earned him ire from the gov­ernor.

“I have read all of Oba­macare,” he said. “It’s about control. It’s not about care.”

He spoke to a crowd of local res­i­dents, who grilled him with ques­tions about guns, health care, roads, public safety ser­vices, the Article V Con­vention of States, and roads again.

“I res­onate with nearly every­thing he said,” North Adams res­ident Mark D. Nichols said. “I fully agree with every­thing he said about religion and the Con­sti­tution, but what he said about roads really res­onated with me. If we had politi­cians like him, we wouldn’t have these problems.”

Colbeck proudly pro­claimed that the United States is a con­sti­tu­tional republic, not a democracy, which caught the attention of Jon-Paul Rutan, a Hillsdale res­ident who hosts the “Reclaim Our American Republic” podcast.

“In Michigan he is going to stay, out of all the can­di­dates, the closest to the prin­ciples of the Con­sti­tution,” Rutan said. “Prin­ciples only work when they’re prac­ticed, not when they’re just preached.”

Colbeck also cap­tured the support of Hillsdale res­ident Penny Swan.

“I def­i­nitely think he’s the best can­didate,” she said. “He speaks the truth. He’s proven that he does what he says he’s going to do.”

Nichols agreed: “He’s one in a million in Lansing. I’m sure.”


  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Senator Colbeck sounds like an appealing can­didate. Glad he’s in the race, he can elevate the debate and improve chances on the GOP holding the Gov­er­norship. One thing we DON’T need is another Jen­nifer Granholm as Gov­ernor. She presided over the worst 8 years of Michigan’s history in a century.