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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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Foray into State Politics

As Doug and Steve plotted Amway’s global strategy, Dick DeVos jumped into the thick of Michigan politics. Republicans were determined to take back the Michigan governorship from Democrat Jennifer Granholm, a former prosecutor and attorney general who had been battling Michigan’s huge unemployment in the wake of auto industry cutbacks. Republicans saw her as vulnerable and Dick as the guy to beat her in 2006. As the heir to the Amway fortune and the former head of one of Michigan’s most high-profile companies, Dick had political clout, business experience—in addition to the 25 years he had spent at Amway, he had run the business side of his dad’s Orlando Magic basketball franchise—and money to finance his campaign. He ran on a platform of creating new jobs, cutting business taxes, and revising regulations that he believed hurt free enterprise. On the campaign trail, he told voters, “I speak business. I’m a job maker.”13 Dick poured an estimated $35 million into the campaign. Former First Lady Laura Bush campaigned for him, and former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani also hit the campaign trail on his behalf.

For Democrats, Dick’s business background offered an open field for attacks. They seized on Dick’s track record and ran TV commercials blasting Amway for investing more than $200 million in China while laying off 1,400 workers in Michigan. One ad showed Amway’s factory in Guangdong, China. “Good for Dick DeVos. But how’s it working for you?” the voiceover ...

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