Phoning me from his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., this morning, Peter Secchia was breathless.
“[Republican gubernatorial candidate] Dick DeVos just broke all the records for campaign donations at one event — at least here in Western Michigan,” said Grand Rapids industrialist Secchia, past Republican National Committeeman and U.S. Ambassador to Italy.
Secchia noted that DeVos, also a Grand Rapids businessman and the likely GOP nominee against Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granhold next year, had just raised more than $270,000 in one breakfast in their common hometown — all from friends and community leaders and not members of his family (which helped found the Amway Company).
“Up until this morning, the biggest take at a campaign event here that I can recall is $120,000 we raised at a [Republican] event where the guest was Dick Cheney,” recalled Secchia, who organized the breakfast in which DeVos made fund-raising history. Secchia added his view that this was a clear signal “that Dick has grass-roots support from community leaders” and would make a formidable challenger to Granholm.
Once considered a possible Democratic prospect for national office (but her Canadian birth kept her out of the presidential picture), narrow ’02 winner Granholm has been dogged by the fact that at a time when the U.S. economy is vibrant, the state still sports higher unemployment percentages than the national average.