Thursday, April 06, 2006

Who Are Louis Boven and Dick DeVos?

If you said both men are Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidates, then give yourself an A+. You are politically savvier than most Michiganders who recognize the DeVos name, but are completely in the dark when it comes to Louis Boven. That’s possibly because our media continues to act like there is only one person running on the Republican ticket. Today’s Oakland Press stated, “Neither DeVos nor Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm are expected to face opponents in the Aug. 8 primary,” and Wikipedia makes the same claim: "He is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for Governor, after three rivals quit the race within three months of his announcement."

If the media won’t do their job, then I consider it my duty to set the record straight on behalf of Louis Boven who doesn’t have the deep pockets of Dick DeVos.

In case you don’t recognize the name DeVos, let me give you some background. DeVos is the billionaire son of Richard DeVos, cofounder of Amway (renamed Alticor/Quixtar). He has been one of the biggest contributors to the Bush campaign and Republican Party, contributing around $602,000 according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. [Wall Street Journal, December, 28, 2000] [Update: More recent information reports Dick DeVos and his wife and former state chairman of the Republican Party, Betsy, contributed just under $1.5 million.]

DeVos founded the Restoring American Dream PAC:
”RAD has played an essential role in maintaining Republican control of the House of Representatives in both 1998 and 2000. Dick's commitment to electing men and women of integrity and character is unmatched. I look forward to working closely with RAD in identifying and recruiting conservative candidates for the year 2002." - Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Majority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives
DeVos is also politically well connected. Business Week and the Associated Press reported in 1999 that Abramoff was “first to sign up” for a meeting with GOP House conservatives hosted by DeVos on the Amway yacht Enterprise. As a reward for his loyalty, Karl Rove called on behalf of President Bush to offer DeVos an ambassadorship:
“Michigan businessman Dick DeVos, a major Republican contributor and driving force behind last year's failed school voucher ballot campaign, has declined to become President Bush's ambassador to the Netherlands. "I am honored and flattered that the president would consider giving me the opportunity to represent our country abroad," said DeVos…"Unfortunately, however, my business commitments do not permit me to serve at this time." - George Weeks, Detroit News, March 4, 2001
One final point worth mentioning is that Dick DeVos has surpassed the $2 million mark for television advertisements in an election year ad blitz that started four months earlier than it did in 2002. Rich Robinson, spokesperson for the Michigan Campaign Finance Network in Lansing, stated: "This amount of campaign spending this early on in the campaign is unprecedented." The election is still seven months away, but pundits are already predicting the DeVos campaign will spend $50 million dollars to help get him elected.

That brings me to Louis Boven. As far as I can tell, only one newspaper reported on his campaign. I can’t say why the larger news sources failed to report this story, but I imagine it’s because they don’t give him much of a chance. Well, I’m tired of money buying elections, so I’m promoting his story:
Whatever else is propelling him, Boven, a 46-year old Holland chiropractor, certainly doesn't have the money, the name recognition or political background that would make him a natural choice to challenge presumed nominee and Amway heir Dick DeVos in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

But that's what he's planning to do. He says he's the grassroots alternative that some Republicans are seeking. He said he has traveled 25,000 miles with his wife, Mary Jo, over the past year talking to Michigan voters, coming away with the feeling that many in the GOP want another choice.

"There are a lot of Republicans that feel like the choice has been handed to them," he said.

"I don't want people to think I'm delusional," he said. "I know what the animal is out there and what the machine is. But I'm counting on the conscience of the people."
Boven is up against a campaign machine that could spend tens of millions of dollars and has the backing of the entire Republican Party structure.

But Boven is undaunted.

"We can't go toe to toe," he said. "But I've been in competition with many things I do. I measure my opposition, figure out their strengths and weaknesses."

DeVos' "most obvious" weakness, Boven said, is his rearing as heir to the Amway fortune.

"It's not his fault -- nothing against the life DeVos has lived -- but it's hard to have lived with that much money to really address the needs of the common laborer, the common businessman," he said.

"A lot of times, when you've been at the top, you tend to dictate what you think the people need instead of understanding the people's needs."

(Source Citation: "Long odds don't deter chiropractor's race against DeVos; Holland Republican 'counting on the conscience of the people' in gubernatorial bid.(State)." The Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI) (March 23, 2006): B4. InfoTrac Custom Newspapers. Thomson Gale.)
Boven sounds like the kind of levelheaded person politics has been lacking for some time now. He already has a web site - Boven For Governor - filled with information on his background (where he also gives his opinions on key issues) but the statement that caught my attention and spoke to me was this one:


Boven may be the underdog, and the media may be ignoring him, but he deserves to be heard. Money should not determine elections in Michigan – or our country.


mikevotes said...

I think you made your own point. Devos is ridiculously wealthy, tied into the Republican machine, throwing crazy money into democracy distorting PACs, and a huge supporter of Bush.

Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't that what Republicans are now?

(disclaimer, I live down here in Texas and we a few(very few) real non crazy christian Bush Republican's left. Many of them are really good officials. I've just got a burr up my butt about this "new conservatism")


Lew Scannon said...

When's the Republican primary? Maybe we need to cast our votes for Mr. Boven ( I knew being a registered Republican would have it's upside), if Granholm's a lock for the Democratic nomination.

Neil Shakespeare said...

It shouldn't, but it does. You can get elected as the mentally challenged inbred son of a toilet paper manufacturer as long as you have enough money. Amway? Even worse.

thepoetryman said...

"Money should not determine elections!"

And that my fine friend
Is the truth neatly sent
Delivered in its fine chaste
Wrapped & delivered with grace!

Ron Nasty said...

Scamway? There's a scary propisition. Glad I don't live in Michigan!

Austin Post said...

Louis Boven lives in my town. I hear he's pretty far-out.

Kathy said...

Austin Post, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. As the election rolls along, drop by and give me your opinion from time to time.