Michigan's Chuck Yob Disappoints Conservatives

Republican National Committeeman Chuck Yob of Michigan has angered the state’s conservative base with his endorsement Wednesday of liberal Rep. Joe Schwarz (R.-Mich.), who is faces a GOP primary challenge from conservative Tim Walberg.

At a time when Republicans in Schwarz’s 7th District have an opportunity to send him packing and nominate conservative for the general election, Yob decided to stick with the status quo and give his backing to an abortion-rights supporter.

That’s not all, says Gary Glenn of the Campaign for Michigan Families. Glenn led the attack Wednesday following Yob’s endorsement of Schwarz, citing the one-term congressman’s opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment and his vote in support of Rep. John Conyers’ “hate crimes” legislation.

After his first year in Congress, it’s hard to call Schwarz even a moderate Republican. According to Project Vote Smart, Schwarz has:

By contrast, here are some ratings from conservative groups, which are hardly flattering:

With all this information at his fingertips (not to mention Walberg’s campaign website, which outlines their differences on the issues), Yob had this to say about Schwarz, according to MIRS News Service:

“Congressman Joe Schwarz has been an asset to the Republican Party. It is essential to have leaders like Joe standing with our party and the president. He is an effective advocate for the 7th District and for the State of Michigan. Furthermore, it is important that we as a party support our incumbents and focus our energy on defeating Democrats.”

The primary between Schwarz and Walberg will take place August 8. In the meantime, if you’re interested in contacting Yob, you can write him at


UPDATE — Feb. 23: Turns out there’s more to the Yob story than I originally knew about. Thanks to an e-mail this morning from an in-the-know Michigan conservative, I’ve learned that it is Yob’s support for Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) that is really fueling the concern.

Yob figured prominently in a recent Washington Post article on McCain’s outlook for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Here’s an excerpt:

Michigan is another prime target. McCain won the state in 2000, but Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) could be a threat there because of his family roots. Romney’s father, the late George Romney, was governor in the 1960s.

“I’ll be sitting having a cup of coffee and the phone will ring and it will be McCain,” said Charles “Chuck” Yob, Michigan‘s GOP national committeeman. He described the senator as “a lot more conservative than a lot of conservatives give him credit for.”

McCain has helped raise money for the Michigan GOP, and Yob returned the favor at last month’s Republican National Committee meeting in Washington by helping to organize a private lunch for McCain with about 20 state party officials from around the country.

Despite a recent poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which McCain finished second, there is still much uncertainty about maverick McCain among conservatives. And with Michigan being a key state he’s targeting, support from Yob has irritated the base.

As my unnamed source explained, “The Schwarz endorsement was the straw that broke the camel’s back. … It’s the combo of his moves that is starting to show his true colors.”

I’ve written to Yob to seek an explanation. He’s invited to reply in this space. We’ll see if he takes me up on the offer.

UPDATE II — Feb. 23: No reply yet from Chuck Yob, but Andy Roth at the Club for Growth pointed out a website, Joe Schwarz Is a Liberal, highlighting even more reasons why Schwarz must go. Turns out Schwarz isn’t just bad on social issues but also fiscal matters as well.

UPDATE III — Feb. 27: I had my doubts, but Chuck Yob came through and delivered the following response to my report about his leaving conservatives in Michigan frustrated with his endorsement of Schwarz and apparent support for McCain. (My apologies to Yob for not posting this immediately after he sent it Saturday night):

I have joined Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, Republican National Committeewoman Holly Hughes, and several other conservatives in Michigan in endorsing Joe Schwarz for re-election.  We are strong conservatives, but we have made the decision to focus on winning general elections in Michigan in 2006 rather than spend energy on costly primaries.

I am strongly pro-life and will continue my policy of endorsing pro-life candidates and those who support anti-gay marriage amendments in primaries for open seats and against incumbent Democrats.  In certain situations I will support challenging an incumbent — but not in Michigan in 2006.  This is a very important election year in Michigan where we have an opportunity to win the Governor’s seat and take out liberal Senator Debbie Stabenow.  We will be successful if we focus our energy.

On the issue of Senator McCain, I do believe he is more conservative than some movement conservatives give him credit for.  He is pro-life and is co-chairman of the anti-gay marriage amendment in Arizona this year.   He is very strong on national defense — arguing the pre-emptive doctrine against rouge states as far back as his 2000 Presidential campaign.  He is also the biggest deficit hawk in the United States Senate.

For these reasons he took a very close second in the CPAC Straw Poll and has the support of many conservatives outside the beltway.  That said, I have not endorsed anyone for President and won’t until after the 2006 elections.