Rick Snyder

Six months ago, I was convinced Rick Snyder would be reelected in November -- not by the 18 point landslide he scored four years ago, but by a fairly comfortable margin.

Yes, I knew there was lingering anger over the pension tax and right to work, maybe other issues, but I figured that Snyder’s Republicans would have so much money they’d overwhelm Mark Schauer, his Democratic opponent, with broadcast commercials, the “air war” of modern politics.

Then too, Republicans have a built-in advantage over Democrats in midterm elections. Turnout is always smaller, and Republicans are better about showing up.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder has been fond of calling Michigan the "comeback state" for at least 2 1/2 years. So he naturally made it a part of his re-election campaign early on.

But as the Republican governor's campaign ramps up in the final two months of the race, he's tweaking his message. Now Michigan's on the "road to recovery."

Pollsters say the fine-tuning reflected in new TV ads is an attempt to align with voters who are more positive about the state's direction but also say the recovery hasn't helped them personally.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill to clarify that Michigan never intended to give out-of-state companies a lower tax liability in a 2007 business tax overhaul.

The legislation is designed to ensure the state isn't forced to pay $1.1 billion in refunds in 134 cases after a July ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court in a case involving IBM. The administration and lawmakers worried the court's 4-3 decision could affect other cases in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 tax years.

Snyder said in statement Friday that the bill is a "common-sense solution" encouraging companies to invest and create jobs in Michigan. The state estimates most of the $1.1 billion in refunds would have been paid in the fiscal year that starts in October, throwing the budget out of balance.

Courtney Hurtt / WDET

Gov. Rick Snyder spent an hour fielding questions from Michiganders on Friday. The questions spanned a broad range of topics, including education, the economy, the environment, and social issues.

During his appearance on Michigan Public Radio’s statewide call-in program "Michigan Calling," the governor pushed back against claims that his policies favor big businesses. He gave arguably his most detailed defense of sweeping tax changes made in his first year as governor.

 “This is Rich Baird ... " was the opening of the voice mail message left by Gov. Rick Snyder’s right-hand man and “transformation manager,” Rich Baird. The message was for union leader Carla Swift. And after that intro, it got nasty.

“I didn’t figure you would pick up on this call. It would take courage to talk to me face-to-face. Um, number one, you’d better be careful. I may be suing you …”

The voice mail from Baird is a response to a column that appeared last weekend in the Detroit Free Press, where Swift said Baird and other members of the Snyder administration play by their own set of rules.

Back to Baird’s voice mail: “I am sick and tired of you people and your unbased attacks. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

VIDEO: Call-in show with Michigan Gov. Snyder

Sep 5, 2014
"Rick Snyder for Michigan" / Facebook Page

Starting at 9 a.m., Michigan Radio airs a special live call-in show with Gov. Rick Snyder.

Gov. Snyder is seeking a second term as the Republican candidate and will take questions from a statewide audience.

The broadcast is part of the Michigan Public Radio Network’s “Michigan Calling” series of 2014 election specials.

Democratic nominee Mark Schauer appeared on “Michigan Calling” on Friday, July 11. That program is available here.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report shows outside money is flowing into Michigan’s U.S. Senate and governor’s races.

As of Sept. 1, nearly $30 million has been spent on TV ads on Michigan’s race for governor and U.S. Senate.

Rich Robinson, with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, poured through TV station public files to get the numbers.

He says about three quarters of the money has come from outside groups.     

A lot of that outside money has been ending up in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Labor Day is the unofficial end of Summer.

For politicians, Labor Day is also seen as the unofficial beginning of the final campaign stretch toward the November election.   The election is little more than two months away.     

Many Michigan politicians spent the Labor Day holiday walking in parades and shaking a lot of hands.        

For Democrats, the place to be Monday was in or around the annual Labor Day parade in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of union workers marched down Michigan Avenue today as part of Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade.

Just as the parade was getting started, a heavy downpour drenched the marchers as they stepped off from Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street.

But the crowd’s passions remained enflamed by speeches from state union leaders, like SEIU president Marge Robinson, who attacked Governor Rick Snyder for signing Right to Work legislation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Political TV ads are set to escalate in the final two months of the race between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer. If the ads that have already run in the contest are any indication, themes will used time and again.

Some charges are inaccurate or lack context the public might find useful. Snyder never cut education funding by $1 billion in his first year. State-based K-12 funding has gone up every year of his term. But he did slash universities' funding and deprive the K-12 school fund of revenue through a business tax cut.

It seems it’s not possible for an election campaign season to glide by without a debate over debates -- the one-upsmanship between various campaigns about who’s more willing to throw themselves open for an adversarial Q and A rife with drama and wonkiness.

Historically, the most memorable moments of debates are the human ones -- Governor Sarah Palin in the 2008 Vice Presidential debate asking then- Senator Joe Biden, “Can I call you Joe?” or Governor Rick Perry’s famous, fatal stumble in the Republican presidential debate in 2012 at Oakland University, forcing an embarrassing “oops” after he forgot the three federal departments he’d eliminate.

The public says it wants debates. Candidates say they’re anxious to debate. But in Michigan, so far, in 2014, we haven’t seen any debates scheduled in either the race for U.S. Senate or governor.

Democratic Senate nominee Gary Peters is certainly trying to make hay over the absence of debates. It plays into the Democrats’ narrative that Republican Terri Lynn Land is unprepared for the job. Mark Schauer, Democratic nominee for governor, is also pushing to share a stage with Gov. Rick Snyder.

State of Michigan

Gov. Rick Snyder is standing by his longtime friend and key adviser, Rich Baird, amid calls for his firing by state Democratic Party officials.

Rich Baird has played an important behind-the-scenes role for the governor since Snyder took office.

Bridge Magazine’s Truth Squad is reviewing the ads and claims in the race for governor between incumbent Rick Snyder and challenger Mark Schauer.

Democrat Mark Schauer is airing his first campaign TV ad and the Truth Squad has a couple of issues with it. First, there’s this statement:

“Rick Snyder’s economy might work for the wealthy, but it’s not working for the rest of Michigan.”

Now, that’s pretty standard political positioning, but Ron French with the Truth Squad says it’s unlikely, if not impossible, that only the wealthy are benefiting from the improvements in the Michigan economy since Rick Snyder took office.

“For one example, the unemployment rate has dropped from 11 percent to 7.5 percent. The Truth Squad questions whether it’s only the wealthy who have gotten jobs during that time,” French said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan voters have viewed at least $20 million worth of political ads in competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns.

But whether they will see Gov. Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer, or Terri Lynn Land and Gary Peters, in one-on-one debates this fall is in question.

Debates appear to have lost cachet in Michigan's statewide races.

In 2010, Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero had just one debate in the governor's race. Two years later, incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and GOP challenger Pete Hoekstra couldn't agree on even one debate.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder says massive flooding this week in and around Detroit reinforces the need to boost state spending on roads. Snyder says Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure may have played a role in the floods, although it’s too early to tell for sure.

“I don’t want to be premature, but you would imagine it would have some consequences in terms of magnifying the effect on the freeway flooding,” Snyder told reporters as he surveyed damage at homes and schools in Royal Oak on Friday. “That wouldn’t have affected the homes, but in terms of the freeway challenges.”

 Natural disasters, like the rain and floods that pounded metro Detroit this week, present a unique challenge for chief executives like Governor Rick Snyder. Natural disasters are certainly not like the slow work of trying to mend an economy, for example.

With natural disasters, all of an administration’s emergency planning is stress tested in real-time with real-life consequences. Years ago, Governor John Engler said a big natural disaster is any governor’s worst nightmare.

And, like most things with government, there are political consequences to natural disasters. How, for example, the public measures the way a chief executive handles the situation.

Here in Michigan, with the November election just two and a half months away, this was an important week for Governor Snyder. Which is why, when the magnitude of what was happening in metro Detroit became clear, the governor cut short a trip to the Upper Peninsula - a trip that included a fundraising event in Marquette - and returned downstate to reassure people that he was aware and in charge.

His administration certainly did not want a repeat of last winter, when Snyder was excoriated for not, at first, being visible during a powerful ice storm that knocked out electricity to big swaths of the state. We should note as well, however, that the governor’s Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer, was also not particularly visible during that ice storm.

So, this week, Governor Snyder flew south by helicopter, surveyed the damage and talked to the media. It was this latter part of his trip - speaking on WJR’s The Frank Beckman Show - that the Governor tried for a little empathy. “I’ve been through a lot of things like that… We just recently had holes in our roof from storm damage to our lake house, in terms of, yeah, we have a vacation place, and I had a limb come down from holes in the roof, had water running through the place. Those experiences are not pleasant ones, and we had to take some trees down,” the Governor said, trying to go for the common touch, the ‘I feel your pain’ explanation.

MDOT / via Facebook

Governor Snyder declared parts of southeast Michigan a “disaster area” Wednesday after this week’s widespread flooding.

The Governor issued an official declaration of disaster for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. In a statement accompanying it he called the flood damage in southeast Michigan “a disaster in every sense of the word.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder says numerous state agencies are helping Detroit and surrounding communities deal with massive floods.

Snyder flew to Metro Detroit to survey the damage himself.

Snyder flew back from a trip to the Upper Peninsula to see the flood damage firsthand from a Michigan State Police helicopter. Many freeways and major roads were closed in Metro Detroit; some sections of roads were swept away in flood waters.

Snyder there’s only so much public officials can do to prevent that kind of damage.

Several political campaigns during the primaries got very nasty. Things haven’t been quite so nasty in the governor’s race … yet.

Most of the ads we’ve seen about Gov. Rick Snyder and challenger Mark Schauer have not been ads the candidates bought. Outside groups produced them and aired them.

The Democratic Governors Association paid for an ad attacking Republican Gov. Snyder.

 There are some big stakes in the primary elections less than two weeks away, and fierce fights over congressional and legislative nominations are getting a lot of attention.

Not that it’s likely to boost what is usually anemic turnout in the primaries, and that’s despite the reality that most seats are so firmly partisan that the primary is actually the decisive election that really determines who goes to Lansing or Washington.

Like other politicos, we’ve paid a lot of attention to the face-off between the Republican establishment and the GOP’s Tea Party wing. And while that fight is playing out in some state House and Senate races, and some big Congressional races, it’s also playing out locally. Very locally.

We’re talking about the humble precinct delegate.

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