As most polls of likely primary voters in Michigan now show a near-tie between Republicans Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain, the Romney camp got a jolt Saturday as a key backer announced he was switching his support to Huckabee.
With three days to go before the primary, State Rep. Fulton J. Sheen of Allegan County, introduced Huckabee at the Amway Grand Hotel and announced he was changing to the former Arkansas governor from native Michigander Romney. In an exclusive interview the evening before his announcement, stalwart conservative Sheen — namesake-nephew of the legendary Roman Catholic bishop in the 1940’s and ‘50’s — said that Romney’s attacks on Huckabee’s Fair Tax proposal convinced him to switch to the Arkansas man.
“I have my own version of the Fair Tax [essentially a consumption tax] that is about 90-95% of what Gov. Huckabee is proposing,” said Sheen, who follows former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Scott Hummel into the Huckabee camp, “I decided I could no longer support a candidate who was saying something I strongly favored at the Michigan level wouldn’t work.”
Stalwart conservative Sheen, who initially got into politics as a volunteer for Jack Kemp’s campaign for President in 1988, said that he has “not met Mike Huckabee personally” but has watched his speeches and performance in debates. Although he did not reach Romney to tell him of his decision, Sheen said, “I did tell Craig DeRoche, the speaker of the House here and a major Romney supporter, that I was going over to Huckabee.”