Without holding committee hearings, last week Senate Republicans in the Michigan State Legislature voted to reject five of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s nominees for appointments to various state boards. Among them was Jason Morgan, openly gay appointee to Northern Michigan University’s Board of Trustees.
The five join 13 others who were rejected the previous week.
“I am disappointed as I would truly love the opportunity to serve an institution that has given so much to me, and I am hopeful that the action will be reconsidered,” Morgan said in a text message.
Voting along party lines, Republicans acknowledged the vote was not based on the individuals’ qualifications but as a rebuke to the Governor’s use of executive power in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic. It does not appear that Morgan’s rejection was related to his sexual orientation.
While the Senate Republicans have made repeated calls for bipartisanship, it is not clear what their demands are in order to stop the rejections.
Openly gay Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) made the following remarks on the Senate floor, calling Michigan politics “unnecessarily nasty” and citing that as the reason candidates are dissuaded from seeking elected office:
“Some instead wish to help, offer their knowledge and skills and give back through the many boards and commissions in the state of Michigan. They complete a rigorous application process with the anticipation to express their desire to serve and highlight their experience before the Senate. Remember the feeling you had as a Senate candidate on election night when the vote tallies came in, that incredible opportunity and responsibility allotted to us to contribute? You have stripped that away from these qualified nominees without even holding a committee hearing on their credentials,” Moss said. “What kind of a signal does that send when you reject qualified applicants due to political stunts? Never mind the signal that it sends on how increasingly dysfunctional this body is, but what signal are we sending to the residents of the state of Michigan with a desire to serve?”
Among other points, Moss reminded his colleagues of their power:
“This body has a lot of power: the power to inspire or the power to depress, dispirit, deject and demoralize. And you’re choosing the latter,” he said. “I won’t be a part of it. And I’m voting no.”
Sen. Majority Leader Mike Shirkey did not respond to a request for comment.