Amash Primary Challenger James Lower’s Deep Ties to Michigan’s ‘Never Trump’ Movement Raise Questions
Michigan state representative Jim Lower is advertising himself as a pro-Trump conservative, but he is closely tied to former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who led the ‘Never Trump’ movement in Michigan with Reps. Justin Amash and Fred Upton heading into the 2016 election.
Lower even boasted that he would model himself after Justin Amash when he first won elected office, claiming that following in Amash’s lead would “give the citizens in the county some input and see each and every vote.”
Lower claims “he grew “disenchanted” with Amash after he came out against Trump after repeatedly voting for Amash and helping with his campaigns, but the two men share a powerful close ally in former LG and state house rep. Brian Calley, who was the ringleader of the ‘Never Trump’ movement in 2016.
With just a month before the Nov. 2016 elections, Calley was joined by U.S. Reps. Justin Amash and Fred Upton to throw Donald Trump under the bus, attempting to leverage their power to give the presidency to Hillary Clinton following the now-infamous leaked audio of Trump outside the set of Access Hollywood.
“The latest revelations about Donald Trump and his past make it impossible for me to maintain support of him… I intend to write in the name of Governor Pence and focus my time, effort and support on the state House elections,” Calley said at the time.
As usual, Amash made his voice heard on Twitter with a denunciation of Trump during that crucial point before the election:
Character matters. @realDonaldTrump has been saying outrageous, offensive things the whole time. He should have stepped aside long ago.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 8, 2016
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 8, 2016
Despite the best efforts of Calley, Amash and Upton, Trump still won Michigan in surprising fashion by a narrow margin and became the 45th President of the United States. Although Calley led the ‘Never Trump’ movement in Michigan, that didn’t dissuade Lower from continuing his close association with the man who he considers a lifetime friend.
Lower’s ties to the Calley family span over a decade. He was listed by the Detroit News as the campaign manager for Brian Calley during his first run for the state house back in 2006.
He also interned in Calley’s state house office and served as Calley’s campaign manager during a state Senate run that he abandoned to become the LG hand-picked by former Governor Rick Snyder.
Lower was recently caught in a lie by Calley’s brother, John. Lower claimed on his campaign website that he “paid for his own education and supported himself by working full-time while getting both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.”
John noted that Lower’s college was paid for in part because of his long-standing connections to the Calley family.
“Why does Lower say he paid for his own education when it was literally my pop who paid his tuition in full??? And to then pretend like he did it on his own??” John Calley wrote in a Facebook post.
“The more I look into this, the more it stinks,” he added.
“John thanks for catching this. Your dad is a great guy, and I’ve always appreciated him helping me out when I really needed it my first year of college,” Lower wrote in response.
“We’ll get it updated. I believe the team was trying to make the point that I come from a working class background. In the lead up to the announcement, it got missed,” he added.
Lower noted the long history that he and the Calley family have shared, with their close relationship going back a great many years.
“Brian and John were both very good friends, and Dr. Calley knew how tough things were. I have been forever grateful for that loan of $10,000 that he later converted to a gift,” Lower said in a statement.
“I have always honored his desire for anonymity on this gift, which is why I did not mention it. Dr. Calley is one of the finest, most generous men I have ever met. He gave me the ability to get through the first year and from there, working almost full time while a student, I paid the remaining $110,000 it took to get my education,” he added.
Dr. Doyle Calley said of the situation: “My son came to me with the concern that his friend couldn’t attend college, and I thought that it was a travesty that someone with James potential wouldn’t be able to fulfill his dreams without assistance. So I paid for his first year. And I did forgive the loan.”
Amash and Calley have been tied to the hip as well since their days in the state house together, where the ambitious young men rose as young stars in the Michigan Republican Party.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 1, 2017
Amash, who has billed himself as a constitutional conservative since being elected to his U.S. House seat in 2010, even supported Calley as Lieutenant Governor when he was being challenged for the position by tea party activist Wes Nakagiri. Amash’s campaigning for Calley was crucial in tipping the vote toward the establishment-backed incumbent.
Lt Gov @briancalley stood w/ me from day one when I decided to run for Congress. He's a great friend & ally, and I'm honored to support him.
— Justin Amash Archive (@amasharchive) August 26, 2013
Despite the fact that Calley had already established this long-history of being a RINO and Never Trumper, Lower joined Amash to endorse Calley’s campaign for governor in the 2018 primary elections against Trump’s preferred candidate, Bill Schuette.
There are no libertarians among the Michigan GOP candidates for governor, so I’m voting for the one who earned my respect when we served together in the state House: @briancalley. Brian is a good man, and he has the humility, integrity, and intelligence to be a great governor.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 7, 2018
— Brian Calley (@briancalley) July 16, 2018
In addition, the recent poll showing Lower with a 16-point lead over Amash was commissioned by Practical Political Consulting, a firm run by former Ingham County Commissioner Mark Grebner. Grebner is a lifetime liberal activist and political strategist who has written for MichiganLiberal.com, a site modeled after the progressive blog Daily Kos.
Amash’s grassroots competitor, veterans’ rights activist Tom Norton, was not included in the poll. He believes that Lower’s connections should disqualify him from being Amash’s replacement.
“After seeing the evidence of Lower’s political career being so attached and bought and paid for by the Never Trumper movement as well as moving into the district, it is clear that he was placed and used by the swamp to divide Trump supporters against Amash,” Norton said, referencing the fact that Lower moved into the 3rd Congressional district shortly before announcing his run.
With President Trump considering an endorsement of a primary challenger to Amash in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, Lower’s deep connections to the ‘Never Trump’ movement in the state may ultimately prevent him from receiving that crucial support.