In farewell speech, Calley lauds his family and Snyder, unloads Trump zinger

    Brian Calley | Wikipedia Commons

    In emotional farewell to the chamber he’s presided over for the last eight years, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley sung the praises of the man sitting behind him: Gov. Rick Snyder.

    “You are the greatest governor of my lifetime,” Calley said on the Michigan Senate rostrum. “You brought winning back to Michigan. You saved Detroit. You had spreadsheets, and you weren’t afraid to use them.”

    Rick Snyder and Brian Calley at their year-end press conference, Dec. 11, 2018 | Ken Coleman

    Calley complimented Snyder for moving forward with the Gordie Howe bridge connected Detroit and Canada. The Republican also tweaked President Donald Trump, who he voted for in 2016, although he did publicly withdraw his endorsement after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out.

    “Trump can’t get Mexico to pay for a wall, but you got Canada to pay for a bridge,” Calley quipped.

    He also had kind words for the next governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, with whom he worked for eight years, both as a House member and later as LG.

    “Gretchen Whitmer, you are now trusted with the state. You have an awesome responsibility. Congratulations. I wish you all the best success. That’s not a throwaway line,” Calley said. “… Please call me anytime if there’s any way that I can help you advance the interests of the people in this state.”

    Gretchen Whitmer

    Calley was self-deprecating in much of the speech and made a reference to the beard he grew after losing the August GOP gubernatorial primary.

    “Yes, I did shave, thank you. Also wearing pants. I’m all set today,” he announced.

    His wife, state Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland) was in the chamber.

    “Julie has a perfect voting record — are you missing votes right now?” the LG asked.

    Calley noted they met when they were “kids” and that his wife finished high school before him, which he joked made her a “cougar.”

    “I’m just glad that no one found out that the lieutenant governor was sleeping with a state representative,” he deadpanned.

    Calley also spent a lot of time praising his spouse, saying, “I am not me without you.” 

    Julie Calley

    The lieutenant governor spoke of each of his three children, starting with his how proud he is of his oldest, Collin, who’s now a teenager but was only 2 when Calley was first elected to the House. Calley has spoken extensively of his middle daughter, Reagan, who has autism and inspired the insurance reform he championed.

    “I wonder if you will ever know how many lives you improved just by being you,” he said today.

    And Calley talked about his youngest, Karagan, who had health problems as a baby but has recovered.

    “The whole state prayed for you when your heart stopped,” he said.

    At the end, Calley noted that in leaving public service he’s “getting some of my life back.” He said he’ll remember his days in office “fondly, but with a twinge of pain, not because it was bad, but because it was so good.”

    After the Senate broke into applause at the end, Calley admonished his colleagues with a smile: “No demonstrations on the floor; you are out of order.”

    Advance reporter Nick Manes contributed to this report.

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    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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