The influence of the Koch brothers, Amway billionaire Dick DeVos, and other far-right big money has been pretty obvious throughout Michigan Republicans' drive to pass an anti-union law suddenly and quickly and during the lame duck session. If there had been any question, which there wasn't, the fact that the Michigan law lifts language verbatim from an ALEC model bill should settle the question. No, this was a move that came from the top (of a giant pile of money).
Not that Michigan Republican leaders, including Gov. Rick Snyder, were opposed to screwing workers by passing a law that typically lowers the average worker's pay by $1,500 a year. But Snyder had to this point pretended to be a reasonable moderate, and shedding that disguise will have costs for him. Similarly, state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville had never seemed eager to pick this fight. So, looking at their lame duck turnabout, and the big donors that had always been lurking, it's not too surprising to see this, reported by Ned Resnikoff:
Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat told MSNBC that some of her Republican colleagues complained to her privately that DeVos was twisting their arms over the anti-union legislation.
“I spoke with someone in Republican leadership who was angry because these heavy-handed tactics were being used with the members,” she said. Republicans told her, she said, that DeVos had “threatened primaries, threatened to spend whatever it takes to beat them if they don’t support these bills.”
This isn't even much of an excuse for Richardville, who can't run for Senate again in 2014 due to term limits, unless he's looking ahead to statewide office or a congressional seat opening up. But the primary threats, along with whatever other arm-twisting accompanied them, go to show what politicians can expect when an uber-conservative billionaire controls their party and their careers.