LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan Senate on Thursday blocked another of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointments to the state panel that regulates hunting, after gun rights groups expressed opposition and a key senator said he was concerned because the nominee no longer hunts.
George Heartwell, the former mayor of Grand Rapids, was rejected on an almost entirely party-line vote. The move came two weeks after the Senate nixed Whitmer nominee Anna Mitterling for the Natural Resources Commission following Whitmer’s refusal to pull Heartwell’s nomination.
GOP Sen. Ed McBroom, of Vulcan, said Heartwell is not trusted by hunters and anglers at a time they are frustrated with the state Department of Natural Resources.
He “is not somebody that the folks in my district are saying, ‘We trust this guy’s got our best interests at heart and is going to go forward with policymaking and advice to the department that I trust is going to change a situation that is in turmoil,’” McBroom said.
Democratic Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., of East Lansing, accused the Republican majority of rejecting Heartwell due to “politics” and said he would have been an independent voice on the panel. The National Rifle Association had criticized Heartwell’s involvement in one of billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s gun control groups, and Michigan Open Carry had opposed his support as mayor for an unenforceable ordinance prohibiting guns at public meetings.