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Michigan rep loses federal education nomination

November 9, 2017 GMT

Lansing — Michigan state Rep. Tim Kelly confirmed Thursday that the Trump administration has pulled his nomination for a career, technical and adult education post in the U.S. Department of Education.

Education Week first broke the news. An unnamed administration official told the newspaper Kelly’s nomination was yanked due to old blog posts with charged comments about Muslims, Head Start parents and efforts to recruit women into the sciences.

The Saginaw Township Republican defended the years-old blog posts in an interview with The Detroit News, saying his words have been blown out of proportion and were generally reflected “mainstream” conservative thought.

Kelly learned he’d lost the nomination Wednesday when he visited Washington, D.C., to prepare for a confirmation hearing that had been scheduled for next week.

“This has been a terribly distressing thing over the last eight months for me and my family,” he said of the nomination process. “Increasingly, I became aware that I perhaps was not a good match for some of this given the toxicity of the swamp.”

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The unnamed Trump administration official told Education Week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reviewed the blog posts in question, saying they should have been discovered earlier in the vetting process.

Kelly said he disclosed the existence of the blog “from day one” but informed the administration it had not been accessible online for several years.

A longtime ally of DeVos in the state Legislature, Kelly said he has not personally discussed recent developments with the West Michigan native.

The White House first announced his nomination in late September. He had been tapped to serve as assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education under DeVos.

“I’m thankful for the nomination, thankful for the initial support,” he said Thursday. “I think it’s been a trying exercise, and I’m thankful that it’s over.

“And good luck to those in Washington, because they need it.”

Kelly, who is serving his third term in the Michigan Legislature, has said he was prepared to resign his House seat for the federal education post.

He chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid that oversees spending on K-12 education as well as the House Education Reform policy committee.

Kelly previously worked as a policy adviser to former GOP Gov. John Engler on education and as a special adviser to the director of the Michigan Department of Career Development. He also helped to form the Michigan Department of Workforce Development.

He was chairman of the Saginaw County Republican Party from 2006 to 2010.

joosting@detroitnews.com