In Michigan’s final Democratic debate, every candidate on the left praised and supported teachers. A candidate on the Republican ticket, on the other hand, once compared them to pigs.

Lisa Posthumus Lyons, who Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette selected as his running mate Tuesday, once said of teachers losing their jobs “pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered“.

She received thousands in campaign contributions from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

That remark sparked a firestorm of controversy in 2013 when Lyons, then chairwoman of the House Education Committee in Michigan, was advocating to dissolve a pair of school districts. She backpedaled, saying she only meant to direct that comment towards advocates for teachers, but reaction to her remarks was harsh.

“You owe my dad an apology for calling him a pig and saying he needed to be slaughtered,” wrote a northern Michigan boy in a letter delivered to Lyons’ office. “I’ll be waiting for a phone call.”

Other criticisms came in the form of protesters dressed as pigs, a now-unavailable letter from one of her former teachers and loud criticism from the left.

“Lisa Posthumus Lyons is a Betsy DeVos hand-picked candidate, who shows once again that Bill Schuette is running for governor to put special interest donors ahead of Michigan’s middle class,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon. “Lyons mocked public school teachers who were losing their jobs, and has been a part of the failed status quo in Lansing that let our roads crumble and dirty water run through our taps.”

Lyons makes a strange pair with Schuette.

Trump had backed Schuette (even spelling his name right the second time) and Schuette professed his love for Trump in return. Lyons, on the other hand, apparently didn’t vote for Trump.

The voters chose our nominee, so I have been quiet because I respect the voters,” Lyons wrote in 2016. “But it is clear Donald Trump has not earned my respect or my vote.”

However, like she did with her “pigs” remark, Lyons walked that comment back when it became a problem.

“You cannot argue with the results that we’re seeing, from tax cuts for Americans, hard-working families to rule-of-law judges that are taking the bench throughout the nation,” she said.

The main thing the two seem united on is Betsy DeVos. DeVos, a Michigander herself, has contributed heavily to both Schuette and Lyons over the years, and Schutte praised Lyons’ leadership on education when announcing her.

Lyons’ leadership on education also included opposing the youth-led school walk-outs earlier this year, saying on Facebook: “We need to share our concerns with others because there is no doubt that — whether intentional or not — these student walk-outs are all part of a political effort to advance a specific agenda.”

Schuette and Lyons will be running against Gretchen Whitmer for the Michigan governorship.


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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