Savage chides Pagel for union supportPublished 7:18pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Brian Savage, Republican candidate for 78th District state House, Tuesday called on Aug. 7 primary opponent Dave Pagel to return $10,000 in campaign donations from two trade unions whose agenda “directly conflict with the Berrien County GOP’s.”
Pagel, Berrien County Board of Commissioners chairman from Berrien Springs, called it a “baseless attack” as he already offered to return the “surprising” support.
“The Berrien County Republican Party voted in March to support an individual’s right to work,” said Savage, of Baroda.
Pagel said he does, too.
“I’ve been less vocal than Brian on right to work.”
The two candidates conversed Monday at the Cass County Fair and “agreed to be civil,” but Savage said Pagel’s position is “not strong enough” and shows “poor judgment.”
“The face that 43 percent of Mr. Pagel’s reported campaign donations came from unions that oppose an individual’s right to work should be a concern for my fellow Republicans and everyone in southwest Michigan,” Savage said. “Michigan needs to regain its competitive edge against Indiana. This type of liberal union influence works against the GOP and hurts the ability of individuals to access jobs.”
According to Pagel’s pre-primary contributions statement, he accepted $5,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 and $5,000 from the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.
“My opponent’s campaign is being funded by those who profit when things stay the same. My donations have been in small amounts from business owners and individuals who understand that to move Michigan forward, we need to challenge the status quo,” Savage said.
Pagel had a counter response.
“When I stepped down after 14 years as president of the board of education at Berrien Springs Schools, I received recognition from school administrators and my fellow board members, but the most significant recognition was from a different group,” he said. “I received a large plaque that proudly hangs on my office wall, signed by four individuals who represented most of the staff at our school district. Thanking me for my years of service on behalf of the staff, the plaque was signed by the presidents of the four school employees unions, teachers, support personnel, transportation and food service. Even though I sat across the table and bargained against them for years, they were willing to recognize the body of my work at the school district, and it made me very proud. As the new 78th District state representative, I will proudly represent workers — union and non-union — as well as their employers and managers.”
Pagel’s endorsements also come from key business groups, including Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the National Federal of Independent Businesses, the Michigan Realtors Association, the Michigan Association of Retailers, Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Townships Association.
“The list goes on,” Pagel said, “but also includes union support. I wonder what Mr. Savage’s list looks like. When I received contributions from the two unions in question, I quickly gave them a call because I was a little surprised. I offered to return the contributions if there was any misunderstanding about where I stand on certain key issues. Two issues of special concern to the unions are prevailing wage and right to work law. On both issues, I disagree with the union positions. They assured me there was no misunderstanding. They appreciated my support of improving Michigan’s infrastructure, and also how I understood both sides of these issues because of my various experiences. They support me as a person who will be a good legislator who they can maintain a good relationship with, and I am proud of that.
“I stand in solid agreement with conservative Republican ideals,” Pagel said. “Even the Tea Party voted in a straw poll to endorse my candidacy. My track record is out there for all to see in my business life, family life and community service. I will keep my campaign positive, even though the negative approach is often what works. As by far the most experienced candidate, I guess I can expect these kind of baseless attacks.”
The third Republican candidate is Niles Councilman David Mann. The winner Nov. 6 faces Democrat Jack Arbanas of Buchanan or Gerry Welling of Niles.