The 61st district includes the cities of Portage and Parchment, and Oshtemo, Texas, Alamo, and Praire Ronde, and western Kalamazoo Townships. Portage Councilwoman Margaret O'Brien is also running as a Republican and Julie Rogers is running as a democrat.
DeShazor is an insurance agent who was elected to the Portage city council in 2003 and 2007. In 2006, he challenged incumbent Republican Jack Hoogendyk for renomination and lost.
LARRY DESHAZOR ON THE ISSUES
Where does DeShazor stand on the issues? It isn't easy to tell.
He seems to have two websites, one for his 2008 campaign and one left over from his 2006 campaign. His announcement video contains only generalities. He says that he wants to cut waste and streamline regulations. But he doesn't say what spending constitutes waste or what specific regulations should be eliminated. Of course, no one runs for office promising to expand waste or complicate regulations.
His issues page has surveys left over from his 2007 city council campaign. They mostly deal with city issues not applicable to state government. We do learn that he thinks that global warming is a threat that requires government spending to encourage inefficient alternative energy. He also supports spending on "rapid transit; parks; and a developmental housing plan that highlights environmental conservation, farmland preservation and energy efficiency".
His previous issues page has generalities about the economy and education. He also has has a Q and A page with audio files that appear to no longer exist.
What would Larry DeShazor do in Lansing? His promises to lobby on behalf of the State Farm Insurance company.
Mr. DeShazor is a team manager at State Farm Insurance and a member of the State Farm Insurance Michigan Legislative Council. As a member, he is charged with positively influencing the legislative process on behalf of State Farm and the insurance industry. Mr. DeShazor believes the key is building positive relationships with all Michigan legislators so all legislator's [sic] understand the complicated issues surrounding insurance.DeShazor's 2006 campaign was similarly vague. He promised to 'focus on the economy and education' without saying specifically what he wanted to do about them. He ran a positive campaign, with the exception of one ugly incident when he accused his opponent of breaking into his house. (The police investigated and found the charges to be baseless.)
DeShazor refused to sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes.
He also opposed making English the official language of Michigan, despite the fact that 82% of Michigan citizens support this measure. He claimed that it "sends an unwelcoming message to foreign business".
LARRY DESHAZOR'S CONTRIBUTORS
You can determine something about DeShazor by examining who contributed money to his campaign. His 2006 statement filed after the election reveals a five thousand dollar contribution from the MEA PAC. The teachers' union contributes overwhelmingly to democrats and liberal Republicans. It supports ever higher spending for its members' salaries, and opposes any efforts to increase accountability or reduce regulations. This may be a clue what DeShazor means when he says he wants to focus on education.
He received significant contributions from the Stryker family, including billionaire Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston. Stryker has given thousands of dollars to democrats.