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Will there be fallout for Governor Snyder over the Flint water crisis?

Jan 7, 2016

Listen to this week's political roundup here:

Governor Snyder this week declared a state of emergency in the city of Flint due to the city’s water crisis. This follows the resignation of Dan Wyant, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and news that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the city’s contaminated water.

I spoke with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and James David Dickson, reporter with The Detroit News, about whether this could be the beginning of political fallout for Governor Snyder.

Demas says while several investigations are currently underway, the launch of a justice department investigation is an indication of the seriousness of the health crisis.

However, Dickson says it's difficult to see what kind of fallout there could be for Governor Snyder or other Republicans:

I remember hearing that Bob Ficano was under investigation and they'd gotten some of his team to flip. This guy was the head of  project that basically lost hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payer money. And by the time it was over they said, no charges. It's tough to see the path forward or how Snyder or other Republicans pay for this politically.

Dickson adds that it will be more challenging for Democrats to regain seats in the state House with the recent elimination of straight-ticket voting. 

With the governor's State of the State address approaching, both Dickson and Demas look to how Snyder will address the Flint water crisis. Dickson says:

He's always tried to present himself as a problem-solver and not a blame-placer. And obviously he's going to want to do that in a situation where all of the fingers are pointed his way as far as the blame.

Demas adds:

Traditionally, what Governor Snyder has tried to do with his States of the State is to run through all of his accomplishments and look forward. I think this year, when he's going into year six, he may not have that many accomplishments in front of him ... so I think you will see a lot of his positivity, which is his trademark. I think he will definitely celebrate his accomplishments on things like the roads. What I'm really interested in is to see how he will address the Flint situation and what his path forward is with a Legislature that really hasn't been that enthusiastic to work with him.

Tune into Governor Snyder's State of the State address on Michigan Radio on Tuesday, January 19, at 7 p.m.