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Nesbitt, who grad­uated in December 2001, is running for the 26th Dis­trict state senate seat. Aric Nesbitt | Courtesy

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, held up a piece of paper during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s con­gres­sional tes­timony on Wednesday with a post from Hillsdale College alumnus Aric Nesbitt that Facebook had pre­vented from being boosted as an adver­tisement on the platform.

Zuckerberg said he was unfa­miliar with Nesbitt’s case when Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, also brought up Nesbitt’s case, but responded to ques­tions at another point during his tes­timony that  “there is absolutely no directive” to have “any kind of bias” in relaying infor­mation on Facebook.

Nesbitt, who grad­uated in December 2001, left as Michigan’s lottery com­mis­sioner on March 24 to try his luck running for the 26th Dis­trict state senate seat. With Gov. Rick Snyder term-limited and in his final year, Nesbitt said he is seeking to return to Michigan’s leg­islative branch and keep the state’s “comeback” heading in the right direction.

“Over the past eight years, Michigan has made a lot of progress,” Nesbitt told The Col­legian. “We’ve been cutting taxes and bal­ancing budgets, but I think there is a lot of work still to do to protect Michigan’s comeback.”

Nesbitt, though, hit a snag on Friday when Facebook blocked him from boosting a post announcing his cam­paign, making national news. The incident comes fol­lowing several other com­plaints from con­ser­v­a­tives that Facebook is cen­soring their content on its platform.

“I’m proud to announce my can­didacy for State Senate,” Nesbitt’s post read. “Lansing needs con­ser­v­ative, West Michigan values, and as our next State Senator, I will work to strengthen our economy, limit gov­ernment, lower our auto insurance rates, balance the budget, stop sanc­tuary cities, pay down gov­ernment debt and be a Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment leader for the people.”

When he tried to pay for the ad, however, imme­di­ately a message popped up, saying the ad “wasn’t approved because it doesn’t follow our Adver­tising Policies. We don’t allow ads that contain shocking, dis­re­spectful or sen­sa­tional content, including ads that depict vio­lence or threats of vio­lence.”

A Facebook rep­re­sen­tative made an apology in a statement to the Daily Caller.

“We’re very sorry about this mistake,” the rep­re­sen­tative said. “This ad was incor­rectly dis­ap­proved by our auto­mated systems. We approved it as soon as this error was brought to our attention and have turned off the automation that caused the error in the first place.”

Nesbitt said he was “flab­ber­gasted” by the message, expressing concern for the effects social media cen­sorship could have on elec­tions.

“I don’t know what was offensive or profane about a con­ser­v­ative message of less taxes, low­ering auto­motive insurance costs, and defending the right to life,” Nesbitt said. “What trig­gered the automation? Case after case, they say it’s a mistake, but what is in our lan­guage is a mistake? There needs to be some trans­parency here.”

The 26th Dis­trict covers Van Buren and Allegan counties, along with Gaines Township and the City of Kentwood in Kent County. The current state senator, Tonya Schuit­maker, is term limited. Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski, a former state rep­re­sen­tative in the area, is also vying for the Repub­lican nom­i­nation for the seat.

Nesbitt, who grad­uated in December 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in eco­nomics and who Hillsdale rec­og­nized with a dis­tin­guished alumnus award in the fall, had an interest in pol­itics even before minoring in it at Hillsdale. The Lawton, Michigan, native, who lives just down the street from where he grew up on his family’s sixth-gen­er­ation family dairy and grape farm, has lis­tened to talk radio since at least the eighth grade and worked as a page in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Wash­ington, D.C., in high school.

At Hillsdale, Nesbitt served on the Student Fed­er­ation, was pres­ident for the Praxis political economy club, and par­tic­i­pated in the Inter­na­tional Club and College Repub­licans.

Nesbitt also partook in the Wash­ington-Hillsdale Internship Pro­gramming, spending his days working at Cit­izens Against Gov­ernment Waste, a con­ser­v­ative non­profit, and his evenings in the Repub­lican National Committee’s phone bank. During his final semester, he also interned in the Michigan House.

Pol­itics Department chairman Mickey Craig has stayed in close contact with Nesbitt since he grad­uated. Craig described him as bright and hard working with “a lot of hustle.”

“I know he’s a smart guy with good char­acter,” Craig said. “I think he under­stands what Repub­lican liberty and free gov­ernment is. He’s very good at under­standing how to try to make sure things are going in a con­ser­v­ative direction.”

After Hillsdale, he worked for Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, and Tim Murphy, R-Penn­syl­vania, before earning his master’s degree in inter­na­tional business from the Nor­wegian School of Eco­nomics.

Nesbitt played a large role in several of Michigan’s con­ser­v­ative reforms once elected to the Michigan House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2010, before he began serving in Snyder’s cabinet. Nesbitt, who served as the House majority leader during his last term and as the House Repub­lican cam­paign chair in 2014 and 2016, led efforts to balance budgets, lower the state’s debt by $20 billion, elim­inate nearly 2,300 gov­ernment rules and reg­u­la­tions, and cut taxes.

“I have a proven record of con­ser­v­ative results,” Nesbitt said. “I was never raised to stand on the side­lines, but to jump in the fire for the cit­izens of West Michigan.”

When Nesbitt accepted the position as lottery com­mis­sioner in Feb­ruary 2017, he was the youngest member of Snyder’s cabinet and the youngest lottery com­mis­sioner in Michigan and national history. In 2017, Nesbitt oversaw a record-breaking $924 million added to the School Aid Fund.

“Aric’s lead­ership role at the Michigan Lottery demon­strated his long-standing com­mitment to serving the people of Michigan,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “I thank Aric for his ded­i­cated service and wish him well in all future endeavors.”

Nesbitt said he is thankful for the foun­da­tions he learned while attending Hillsdale College and hopes to bring those prin­ciples to Lansing.

“Turning our prin­ciples and common-sense solu­tions into a reality has always been my focus,” he said. “With your support, I will take the prin­ciples I learned growing up on the farm, at Hillsdale College, and throughout life, and make them a reality in building a better, brighter future for the hard­working tax­payers of West Michigan.”