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Governor Snyder has faced a hard few months, and there’s little relief in sight

Oct 19, 2015

Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

Detroit schools

Governor Snyder is trying to resuscitate his Detroit agenda with bills in the state Legislature that would focus on Detroit schools. But, his announcement today is happening in the shadow of an FBI corruption investigation into the Education Achievement Authority, the so-called reform district that’s supposed to turn around poor-performing schools in Detroit.

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One target of the investigation has already agreed to plead guilty and there very well may be others on the way.

These are headlines that no governor wants to deal with, particularly if they are critical to a political legacy (in this case, Snyder’s hope to turn around the city of Detroit).

Second term blues

As we’ve talked about before on It’s Just Politics, second terms can be brutal for lame duck governors (and presidents). And, the last few months here in Michigan seem to be a case in point.

A deal on road funding - the governor’s top priority - remains elusive, and let’s not forget the crash and burn of Proposal One last May.

Then, there’s the Snyder-backed plan to reform parole rules for prisoners that has been battered by fellow Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and county prosecutors. The legislation now faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled state Senate.

The state Senate also delivered a poke in the eye last week when a committee (run by Republicans) adopted a bill to roll back gun-free zones, something that Snyder has already vetoed once before.

Crisis in Flint

Foremost for the Snyder administration is, of course, the Flint water crisis. The lead contamination has not only created an incredibly serious health risk for the city’s children, and questions about governmental negligence, but it’s also served as an indictment of the emergency manager system that Snyder has championed since taking office.

This is a Republican governor with Republican majorities in both chambers of the Legislature who, on issue after issue, has been put squarely on defense.

Snyder could use a win

This isn’t just academic. In order to get some of his priorities through the Legislature, Snyder needs to show that he can chart a winning course.

He’s got to show lawmakers - both Republican and Democrat - that he has something of value to offer them. Otherwise, there’s very little incentive for lawmakers to work with him.

And, to make matters worse: another humiliation this past weekend. Governor Snyder, proud Wolverine, holder of three University of Michigan degrees (who makes a habit of not wearing neckwear) has to wear a tie with Michigan State University colors for a whole day, due to losing a bet on Saturday’s MSU/U of M football smack down.