UPDATED AT 7:00 A.M. - Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young Jr. launched his U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday, touting his conservative record and becoming the second Republican to seek the nomination to challenge third-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018.
Young, who was an appellate judge for 22 years, announced his candidacy at an empty Detroit lot where his childhood home once stood.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a judge,” he said during the announcement shown in a Facebook live video. “But when I get to D.C., I’m going to lay down the law. No more big government, no more spending beyond our means. We have to make tough decisions and I’m going there for one reason — to make those tough decisions.”
Young, 66, disclosed his plans to run last week at a meeting of local Republicans in Midland. He stepped down from the high court in April after serving there for 18 years.
He described himself as a black conservative Republican — three words “almost never uttered in the same sentence” — and said he cut the judiciary’s size and cost while serving as the court’s longest-serving chief justice and as a “rule-of-law” judge.
Lena Epstein, co-owner of Southfield-based Vesco Oil Corp., is also running for the GOP nomination.
Young, who lives in Laingsburg outside Lansing, graduated from Harvard with bachelor’s and law degrees. He was appointed to the state Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals by then-Gov. John Engler in the 1990s and later won elections to stay on the bench.
Before that, he worked as general counsel for AAA Michigan and worked in private practice.
Young said he chose to announce his candidacy at the run-down parcel because it is a “physical symbol of what happens when people like Debbie Stabenow are in control.” He said she is a “champion of big government and the status quo.”
Epstein, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, criticized Young and Stabenow for holding elected office for decades, combined. “Voters across Michigan spoke loud and clear in 2016 that they are looking for outside leaders with business experience,” she said in a statement.
In a phone interview, Young told The Associated Press that political “experience isn’t a bad thing. Being a politician without results is not so good. ... I think most voters would be interested in a candidate who actually has done something in changing and reforming government.”
Stabenow coasted to re-election in 2006 and 2012, but Young said he will expose “her horrendous record of policies that have destroyed communities like Detroit all across the state of Michigan and our country. We are spending money that we don’t have. We have to make tough choices. Debbie’s solution to every one of these is ‘have some more money.’”
A Stabenow spokesman said she is “focused on doing her job” by protecting the Great Lakes and lowering health care costs.
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon said in a statement that Young “sided with insurance companies, polluters and other special interests” while Stabenow is “on the side of Michigan families.”
Asked about the political newcomer Epstein’s outspoken support for Trump in a state that Trump put in the Republican column for the first time in nearly 30 years, Young said he voted for Trump in the GOP primary and the general election but is also an “independent person.”
“I don’t have to tie my kite to anybody. ... But I’m not running to critique the president. I’m running to explain why my being in D.C. will make a difference,” he said.
The Republican said in a news release Wednesday he will seek the 2018 nomination for the seat held by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. He also plans a video announcement on Facebook.
The 66-year-old Young, who served on the high court for 17 years before stepping down in April, says he’s “not a politician.”
Lena Epstein, co-owner of Vesco Oil Corp., is also running for the Republican nomination.
Young last week disclosed his plans at a meeting of local Republicans in Midland. He has described himself as a black, conservative Republican — three words “almost never spoken in the English language.”