Advance Notice: Briefs

Meekhof praises Ananich as ‘ally and foe’ in goodbye speech

By: - December 21, 2018 2:26 am

State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Grand Haven), tonight gave his final speech on the floor of Michigan’s upper chamber as Gov. Rick Snyder watched.

Meekhof, who is term-limited, reflected on his legacy, saying that the job changed him.

“I’m not the same person who marveled at my name on the plaque next to the office with majority leader,” Meekhof said. “I’m wiser, smarter, older, more humbled and much better off for having known all of you and the experiences of this eight years.”

During his two terms in the Senate, Michigan also had a Republican House and governor — something that Meekhof said made his job easier at times.

Jim Ananich |Susan J. Demas

“We shared a basic common political ideology and a classic view about the role and purpose of government in the lives of citizens,” Meekhof said. “Early on, I thought being from the same party would make policy meetings and budget negotiations easier. Sometimes it did; other times we struggled to reach consensus and experienced normal frustration and irritation with one another.”

Ultimately, however, party affiliation only matters so much, Meekhof said. He noted some of his closest friends are Democrats before offering praise to Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

“I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say our friendship was not what I would have anticipated, but it is one I will cherish,” Meekhof said. “You’re a tremendous advocate for your constituents. You’re honest, trustworthy, pragmatic, and I am fortunate to have had you as an ally and a foe.”

Reflecting on his style of leadership, Meekhof said he tried to take a relatively hands-off approach, letting the members take center stage.  

“I’m a better leader and more rounded person for having learned how to communicate the importance of our actions in the Senate. That was not a role that came natural to me,” Meekhof said. “I viewed my role as a leader kind of like duck hunting or charter fishing captain: I’m just positioning the boat so you can shoot the ducks or catch the fish.”

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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a former reporting intern with the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.