Monday, April 20, 2015

State Rep. Cindy Gamrat Talks About Caucus Controversy And More In WMP Interview


By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

Transparency and accountability are nothing new for State Rep. Cindy Gamrat, one of Lansing's most accessible legislators.

I caught up with her today as she made herself available for open coffee hours in Allegan this afternoon. From what she is working on in Lansing, to the RNC race, to being booted from the House GOP caucus, we hit on a number of issues.

Has the recent House GOP Caucus issue impacted your race for RNC? How is that going?

"It has gone well, and it continues to go well," Gamrat said. "I don't know the full effect yet, but I haven't been able to make phone calls and connect with state committee members the last few days. So the campaign has been put on pause a little bit, but i have heard from many different State Committee members and there is lots of support."

Why did Gamrat decide to jump in?

"I prayed a lot about it, thought about it...I believe I have something unique to offer, I have experience with the grassroots, with party politics-I have a large statewide network from spending a lot of time throughout the state at various events for years. I have a passionate belief in the platform and I want to advocate for it in a way that inspires others."

Has Dave Agema endorsed her RNC bid as some have reported?

"He is a friend and we just talk normally usually, like friends, so I will have to ask him," Gamrat said. "I thought he'd stay neutral. I talk to Dave regularly depending on our schedules."

What is the status of her "life at conception" bill?

"I am working with attorneys and pro life activists across the state to fine tune the bill," Gamrat said. "It's important legislation. Life is very important to my district and I wanted to get this right."

How did the "Contract for Liberty" come to be? How are things going?

"I will be sending out an email soon that lays out legislation I am working on, legislation I have sponsored, and that I have co-sponsored," Gamrat said. "The Contract for Liberty is the foundation of everything. I wanted to be thoughtful about how we approach issues, and the Contract for Liberty is the framework for how I approach Lansing. It was created from communications with Rep, Courser, we talked about how we wanted to go into the legislature and what we thought was important to bring to the discussion.Then we put thoughts on paper. You can just look at issues randomly, or you can approach them with a focus on liberty. The constitution is just words on a piece of paper if no one will defend it."

Prop 1 will likely fail-are you excited to help shape new road legislation?

"I am excited," Gamrat said. "I am optimistic we can do something. I want to be part of a solution Michigan can be proud of. So many people don't even know what's in it, and it's the largest tax increase in over 50 years. Maybe I am naive, but I think we can come up with something"

What is going on in Lansing? What have you realized so far?

"The power struggle in Lansing, the way it's set up is two-fold," Gamrat said. "You have majority vs. minority, and you have the power struggle within the majority for leadership and that sort of thing. What's happening now (with her being kicked out of the caucus) is part of that.

I am a "principle over party" person and I think we should treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of political party. In Lansing, the minority almost never gets bills heard, regardless of who is in power.

Gamrat continued:

"The party structure for the majority party becomes the power structure itself. There are two different worlds, one where constituents elect legislators and think they represent them, and then in Lansing, it's a whole different world, it's a constant power struggle for control  And if Representatives are scared that if they speak their mind, they will get kicked out of caucus, what kind of message does that send? The Speaker has an enormous amount of power and influence, and we need to be careful that power is not abused. We may need more checks and balances."

Regarding the Facebook post that got her booted from the caucus:

"It was just a raw, emotional, response. I was just thinking about what has been before me and thought, how in the world do we even start moving towards getting us where I came here to lead us? The amount of government in our lives is almost overwhelming. It was just a raw, personal expression of my feelings at the time."

Did she miss the House GOP Agenda roll-out on purpose?

"I have not thought about that until now," Gamrat said. "Yes, but only because I did not have a chance to read the agenda beforehand-not until right before the rollout happened did we get them. I didn't feel comfortable attending until I had read it."

Is she disappointed in being booted?

"It was surprising, very surprising," Gamrat said. "It's a misunderstanding I expect to be resolved quickly."

Has she talked to Cotter lately?

"I sent him an email and made a phone call but I have not heard from the Speaker," Gamrat said.

Does she regret voting for him for Speaker?

"At the time, between the two, he addressed issues in a better way," Gamrat said. "I don't make decisions with future expectations."

Is it appropriate to hold House GOP Caucus meetings at the MML, a lobbyist group HQ? (Michigan Municipal League)

"I need to give this more thought," Gamrat said. "It's important-it's a legitimate issue and voters should be aware."

Does meeting at MML and then have that group get millions from prop 1, is that an issue?

"Yes, and not just because of Prop 1. It's a legitimate issue."

At the end of the day, Gamrat is enjoying herself and believes some good may come out of the situation.

"There is something beautiful about this process" Gamrat said. "The people, the debate, even when I disagree with them, I enjoy it. I have no malice toward Kevin (Speaker Cotter) or Al (Pscholka) even though I vote "no" on most of Al's bills.

I am hopeful and optimistic that now the elephant is out of the room, and they're like "how do we deal with you?" and I am like, "how do I deal with all this?" that we can have an honest, frank discussion and move forward. I want to be transparent and accountable to my constituents while respecting my peers. It's a balance, it's a fine line but I think we have the potential to come together stronger than ever as a caucus as a result of this."

So, will Gamrat face a primary challenger?

"I just always expected that, since day one," Gamrat said. "I don't approach this out of fear.If voters are satisfied, they will re-elect me. I am working hard, and I hope I can earn their vote"

  >>>Read more about the situation below:

Cindy Gamrat "Shocked" By "False" Cotter Confidentiality Claims, Expects To Rejoin Caucus

#StandWithCindy: Justin Amash Defends Cindy Gamrat On Twitter

Source: Planned Parenthood Reference Prompted Gamrat Purge, Cotter Will Invite Her Back 

TARGETED? Email Shows Cindy Gamrat's Facebook Post Was At Worst An Honest Mistake

Gamrat Booted Over Facebook Post

Breaking: Cindy Gamrat Kicked Out Of GOP Caucus

Candidate for RNC expelled from caucus

Tea party state Rep. Cindy Gamrat kicked from House Republican caucus


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at 


Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

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