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Neither party wants Rick Snyder to resign over Flint

Feb 2, 2016

If you’ve turned on any TV news channel today, my guess is that you saw experts talking about the meaning of the Iowa caucuses.

I watched more of that than I intended to, and discovered that the single best assessment did not come from one of the glamorous talking heads, but from a former congressman who is going to be 90 years old this summer.

When the results of the Republican race were known, good old John Dingell sent out this tweet:

Those were the guys who won those caucuses the last two times, and who ended up going nowhere.

My guess is that Governor Rick Snyder may have welcomed the caucuses as a welcome diversion from the death of a thousand cuts he’s been suffering over the Flint water crisis. Still, yesterday, for about the sixth time, somebody asked me if I thought Snyder would resign. Others have asked how long it would take before he quit, or if he’d be booted out of there.

I’ve been responding by asking, “well, if he did quit, do you know who would become governor?”

Most people weren’t too sure. Some did know he would be replaced by the lieutenant governor, but weren’t too sure who he was.

“Isn’t he named Cheney?” one lady asked.

Well, no, his name is Brian Calley.

But if you aren’t steeped in state politics, that may be the only thing you know about him. Except perhaps that he has a child with autism and has worked hard to require insurance coverage for children on the autism spectrum.

Beyond that, however, there’s a good chance that Calley, who is 38 and looks even younger, could walk into your local mall, shop, and never be recognized.

I can tell you that Rick Snyder is not, repeat not, going to resign over Flint.

Nobody knows what kind of governor he would make, but I can tell you that Rick Snyder is not, repeat not, going to resign over Flint – not unless some proof turns up that he broke the law, and there’s no sign of that.

Not only is Snyder not going to quit, here’s a little secret: Neither party wants him to.

Democrats love having him as a whipping boy, a symbol of what’s wrong with the Republicans’ approach to state government.

Republicans aren’t thrilled with Snyder either.

But here’s something both parties know: If Snyder were to leave, new Governor Calley would start with a fresh slate. There’d be huge media interest in him, and it is possible he could win over the public. And, there’s this: He would be, unlike Snyder, eligible to run for reelection. Nobody likes taking on an incumbent.

The last time a governor resigned was back in 1969, when George Romney joined President Nixon’s cabinet. His lieutenant governor looked about as young and ineffectual as Brian Calley does, and many people thought he would just be a placeholder till the next election.

But Bill Milliken went on to serve longer than any governor in Michigan history. Governor Snyder has no desire to quit, of course; that would be the ultimate admission of failure.

But what you should know is that all the other politicians want him to stay there too.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.