Tuesday, July 29, 2003 www.detnews.com Metro Edition
Book honors Michigan Senate leader
by GEORGE WEEKS
Having served in the state Senate and a quarter century on Capitol Hill, ex-U.S. Rep. Guy VanderJagt, R-Luther, knows what it takes to be an effective majority leader. So it's worthy of note when he says: "What Lyndon Johnson was to the U.S. Senate, Emil Lockwood was to the Michigan Senate -- the very best there ever was."
That high tribute is in a new book that is more than a biography of the lawmaker who once had his coat lapels inadvertently ripped off in 1967 by Gov. George Romney in a heated talk; it is a highly readable manual on do's and don'ts of legislative leadership.
Ex-Gov. John Engler, himself a shrewd Senate majority leader, says of his late fellow Republican: "I am highly indebted to him because he set the standard for what a good Senate majority leader should be. (He) won the respect ... of both parties. He will be remembered as one of the finest in Michigan's political pantheon."
The book is "Man in Motion: Michigan's Legendary Senate Majority Leader Emil Lockwood" by Stan and Marilyn Fedewa, published by Llumina Press.
One of its fascinating accounts is how this Republican from rural Michigan, after the post-Detroit-riot unrest, engineered narrow passage of the historic 1968 Open Housing bill opposed by half of his own caucus. He said, "it was the only fair thing to do."
Lockwood, of St. Louis, was the 1965-66 Senate minority leader and then majority leader until 1970, when he was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for secretary of state.
Nineteen of Michigan's governors previously were state senators. Several nominees for governor previously served as their party's leader in the Senate, including 2002 Republican nominee Dick Posthumus.
Lockwood's success after the Senate was as co-founder of Michigan's first bipartisan, multiclient lobbying firm. The book provides insights and intriguing nuggets about this influential craft.
But my interest is in Lockwood's legacy in the Senate, where he was "a moral giant," according to Jerry Coomes, co-founder and Lockwood partner in Public Affairs Associates. "He not only insisted -- but he fought ferociously to assure that our laws treated all persons as equals."
Why was he so successful?
Because he did his homework on issues and seemed, Engler-like, a step ahead of the opposition; developed good relations on both sides of the aisle -- and knew what the hot button issues were for individuals on both sides; was more pragmatic than partisan in his trading and deal-making; kept his word; and spoke with disarming frankness -- a trait admired in my craft.
As observed by Roger Lane, a former Associated Press and Free Press capitol correspondent: "His wizardry lies in putting together endlessly different combinations of Republicans and Democrats to win."
One Democrat who served in the Senate with Lockwood, the late Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, told him: "I have always found your word to be your bond."
All in all, "Man in Motion" is recommended reading for all those many new lawmakers just getting under way as both chambers feel the full impact of term limits.
As an opponent of term limits, I must confess that the turnover factor does not appear to have adversely affected the Legislature's Big Four, the top leaders of each party in the House and Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, is in full stride in his first year in the job. He is in his second Senate term after six terms in the House and a stint as minority leader there.
All hail to Sikkema and House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-LeRoy, who has a Lockwood-like common touch, for working out a budget settlement with Gov. Jennifer Granholm. But legendary they're not yet. Copyright 2003 George Weeks of theThe Detroit News
George Weeks is The News' politics columnist. Reach him at
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