Mike Huckleberry is used to getting dirty in the kitchen of his Greenville restaurant.
However, the egg on his face today is of the political sort.
Huckleberry, who formerly served as Democratic state representative, is running against current State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes. The position will be decided by voters in the general election on Nov. 6.
Huckleberry has been distributing a pamphlet published by the Montcalm County Democratic Party in Stanton titled “New Michigan Tax Changes.” The cover of the pamphlet states, “This affects your 2012 tax return filed in 2013, increasing your cost of living up to $3,000+. Supported by Rep. Rick Outman by voting in favor of the 2011 budget HB 4361.”
One problem — the pamphlet was referring to the wrong bill.
House Bill 4361 was a proposal to replace the Michigan Business Tax, raise the income tax and trim credits. Outman was one of just six House Republicans who voted against that bill.
“A little bit of egg on my face,” Huckleberry said. “One of my staffers wrote this down and wrote it wrong. I take full responsibility. It was an honest mistake. We immediately stopped passing them out and we’re in the process of correcting them.”
Huckleberry said the pamphlet was supposed to reference House Bill 4526, which involved the 2011-2012 budget. Outman voted “yes” on that House Bill, which Huckleberry says is the point.
Outman says that’s not the point.
“The pieces that he’s bringing door to door, the pieces that he’s bringing to businesses are wrong,” Outman said. “That is irresponsible on his part. You could almost forgive somebody who never had any previous legislative experience for not fact-checking a vote — almost. But he has previous legislative experience.
“Mike’s claim to fame is that he is above negative campaigning. Lying about my voting record is negative campaigning. I believe this election cycle will show Mike’s true colors — that he is a political opportunist who cares more about his potential job in Lansing than the voters in the district.”
Huckleberry has his own bone to pick with Outman regarding a July 11 “telephone town hall.”
Outman and his staff sent out phone calls to 4,708 people in Outman’s district — including Huckleberry’s home. Huckleberry decided to stay on the line to ask Outman a question, along with 1,230 other people.
However, Huckleberry said the phone line went dead after he was on hold for almost four minutes. He wonders if Outman’s staff hung up on him when they learned who he was.
“They should have at least acknowledged that they weren’t going to get to my call,” Huckleberry said.
Outman said all callers were treated the same and he answered questions from as many people as possible during the hour-long conference.
“We tried to answer calls in the order they were received,” Outman said. “Perhaps because Mr. Huckleberry thinks he is a former legislator, he should be moved to the head of the pack.”