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Candidates speak at Ballot Bash with some races tight

Posted at 11:56 PM, Oct 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-06 23:56:50-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Just 29 days from the general election in November, and polls show the races are tight. Monday night FOX 17 heard from four Republican candidates interviewed in the MLive Ballot Bash in downtown Grand Rapids: U.S. Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land, Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

Candidates and incumbents discussed major issues like same-sex marriage, immigration reform, and decriminalizing marijuana. Schuette, Snyder, and Land were mostly in agreement: saying borders should be more secure. Then in regards to same-sex marriage, each said they defend the Constitution, and Land added that “the final say should come from the states.”

According to Public Policy Polling, the races for the governor and U.S. Senate in Michigan are tight. Oct. 2-3 polls show 47 percent of those surveyed chose incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder, while 46 percent support his Democratic opponent Mark Schauer.

In the race for U.S. Senate, 49 percent of voters chose Democrat Gary Peters, while 42 percent supported Republican Terri Lynn Land.

Schuette began the interviews Monday night by discussing new initiatives that are high on his agenda: namely, effective rape investigations and aiding victims of human trafficking.

"I want to implement the remaining recommendation on the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking,” said Schuette. “Secondly, I want to make sure we examine all these DNA (of rape kit) evidence boxes."

Snyder focused on what he considers his chief accomplishments in his first term, as he showed a long list to the audience saying, “Michiganders are working better together now.”

"Nearly 300,000 private sector jobs have been created, personal income was ninth fastest in the country, in terms of coming back,” said Snyder. “We just had a report that said we had the largest increase in home values in the United States over the last 12 months, our population is growing again."

Snyder also said he “increased the public school fund” and cited the difficulty of some districts' lower enrollment and paying more pensions.

"The number went down in the prior administration more than one year, and then time I was Governor in the first three years it went up by over a billion dollars in that cumulative period,” said Snyder. “The budget I just approved is a billion dollars higher than the year I took office. It's simple math."

The public school budget is a major point of contention among voters like Godwin Heights School Board Member David Drake, who told FOX 17 that "almost none of (Snyder's) billion was seen in K-12 classrooms.”

Democratic Governor Candidate Mark Schauer will be interviewed at the Ballot Bash this Thursday Oct. 9 at Midtown Brewing Company in Lansing. Schauer’s office released this statement:

"Rick Snyder's policies work for the wealthy, but not the rest of Michigan. As governor, Mark Schauer will reverse Snyder's school cuts, get rid of the Snyder Pension Tax, and give tax incentives to businesses to come to Michigan so they can create good middle class jobs. Mark will build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy."

Land said she is focused on bringing and keeping jobs in the state and repealing and replacing Obamacare.

"Washington is broken and now it's trying to break Michigan,” said Land. “Michigan needs good paying jobs here in the state, so that would be a number one priority not to leave that to our grandchildren. Repeal and replace Obamacare, so we can have the best health system in the world again. And then fix Michigan roads; that would be a priority. If we could do all those things in the first year, that would be great."

When Land was asked whether she avoids debates, she accused Gary Peters' campaign of pulling out of debate negotiations on Friday and are not answering her team's questions.

Meanwhile, Peters’ debate negotiator, former Lt. Governor John Cherry, said, “I’m sad to say that I am surprised, and more than a little troubled by the behavior of the Land campaign and their negotiator Richard McLellan. Terri Lynn Land’s campaign broke the cardinal rule they asked us to abide by in debate negotiations - no discussion of debate negotiations in the media.”

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said she has almost entirely cleaned up the voter registry, but said the state is not ready for online voting because of the lack of security.

"While we have taken first place in the nation for getting people registered at the Secretary of State's office, it's unfortunate that only about half the people usually vote in an election,” said Johnson.

On Sunday Oct. 12, FOX 17 will bring viewers coverage of the town-hall debate between Governor Snyder and Democratic Candidate Mark Schauer at Wayne State University in Detroit.