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Two names of Republicans keep surfacing in the rumor mill, persons financially capable of self-funding a run for governor – millionaires Perry Johnson of Troy and Bloomfield Township’s Kevin Rinke from the Rinke auto dealer family. The latter has some baggage that has been surfacing in recent weeks that could prove problematic, despite his willingness to put $10 million of his own money in the race. Bill Ballenger, former state lawmaker, prognosticator and dean of political newsletters here in Michigan, described the baggage in a recent column as “personal issues” that must be resolved by Rinke. MIRS, the Lansing-based information news service, was more direct in late July – employees (three of them) filed claims and took legal action for age and race discrimination and sexual harassment at one of Rinke’s former car dealerships dating back to the 1990s. A Rinke spokesperson labeled the claims, back then and now, as completely false. All three claims were eventually dismissed by judges following agreements to settle that were hammered out. We asked around about Rinke among local Republicans and got mixed messages. Some had no knowledge of him although a check of federal campaign donation records shows Rinke is a long-time supporter of Republican candidates, in county, state and federal races. Think Mitt Romney, Bill Schuette, Brian Calley, Mike Bishop and Jim Runstead for starters, plus the Republican National Committee. Just this past April he gave $10,000 to the Michigan Republican Party. A quick off-the-cuff windshield survey of some car dealers produced responses of “not well known” among the car crowd. A quote from one local Republican says it all – “He is known as someone born on third base but thought he hit a triple.” Ouch.



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