Rick Snyder

So, is it too soon to start thinking about Election 2014?

If you think so, think again. (Or maybe turn off your TV.)

“One Tough Nerd” is back on the air with a 60-second ad called “Michigan is Back,” and it’s basically the launch of Governor Rick Snyder’s campaign for a second term. That’s despite the fact that Snyder continues to insist that he’s not an “official” candidate and, furthermore, that it wouldn’t be a good idea right now: “When you have the official candidate kind of role, it makes it more confusing for people.”

He also said last weekend at a Republican conference on Mackinac Island that an early launch isn’t necessary because, unlike his political debut in 2010, people now know who he is and he doesn’t have to build name identification.

Yet, not even a week passed before the governor’s reelection campaign made what appears to be a significant ad buy, maybe more than $500,000. Not only is he on the air earlier than anyone else, he’s up four months earlier in the cycle than last time around when he was unknown.

So what gives? It’s interesting that a governor who makes a point of being a non-politician (or, as he prefers, “not your typical politician") is now cutting distinctions that only a politician would make – the kinds of fine-pointed legalisms that typically get teenagers grounded. Governor Snyder is a candidate and should be viewed as such.

We here at It’s Just Politics have never accepted that Snyder was committed to any course other than seeking a second term. And once again, his actions and behavior (as well as most of his words) have borne that out. So why would Snyder belie his own analysis by going up so early? Here are some ideas:

  • Habit. The last time around, Snyder also launched early. We were introduced to “One Tough Nerd” on Super Bowl Sunday 2010, when he was a largely unknown businessman running against some better-known established political names. It worked before.
  • Numbers. Most polls this far out show the governor running at least a little ahead of Mark Schauer - the almost-certain Democratic candidate. But, Snyder is still below that crucial 50 percent mark in every poll that we’re aware of. He’d certainly like to move that number up to a more-comfortable place, preferably before another poll comes out. That would appease Republican funders, too.  And this might be the moment, the public seems to be responding reasonably well to some of his very assertive actions in Detroit.
  • Image. If Rick Snyder wants to remain on top, he’s got to retain control of his image. And maybe the best way is to get out before the Democrats get busy trying to define and redefine impressions of “One Tough Nerd” in the public mind. (Democrats have already crafted their counter-persona, “One Weak Geek.”)
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder says Michigan has become a more business-friendly place since he took office—and that’s good news for the automotive industry.

The Governor addressed industry leaders at the Michigan Automotive Summit in Detroit Wednesday.

Snyder says that in the emerging global economy, there will be a “go-to place” to on each continent to make things. And he thinks Michigan is poised to be that place in North America—but the state needs to embrace, not reject, its manufacturing past.

Governor Rick Snyder has begun airing a sixty second commercial that, to anyone with an IQ exceeding that of a hamster, is clearly a campaign ad aimed at getting the voters to reelect him next year. It touts all the governor’s supposed accomplishments of the last three years, and hints what he wants to do in a new term.

Snyder says the message is: “simply put, we said it and we did it.”  Actually, the commercial is a shorter version of a five-minute video shown at last weekend’s Mackinac Island Republican conference. That version openly referred to “another four years” with Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley in charge.

Standard campaign commercial fare. But there are two things odd about this. For one thing, it is highly unusual for any candidate to run such a commercial more than a year before the election. After all, this stuff is terribly expensive. When politicians do things like this, as a friend used to say, “it just goes to show you what God could have done if he had just had the money.’”

But here’s the really odd thing about all this. Snyder is pretending he is not yet running for reelection, and to an extent, the media are letting him get away with it. “I’m not an announced candidate,“ the governor told reporters yesterday. “I’m happy being governor. I’m focused on being governor,” he said.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The first campaign ad in the race for Michigan governor will start airing tomorrow (Wed.). In fact, Governor Rick Snyder is launching his ad campaign before he’s formally announced he’s a candidate.

The statewide ad buy is modest, but it comes as Snyder continues to insist he should not be treated as if he’s running for reelection.

“I’m not an announced candidate,” he says. “I’m happy being governor and I’m focused on being governor.”

Detroit Free Press / Detroit Free Press

The 2014 election season is warming up. In Michigan, we're moving from "One Tough Nerd" to "One Successful Nerd."

In an early bid to make his case for re-election, Gov. Rick Snyder released this video:

But critics say Gov. Snyder's record on the economy makes him vulnerable.

Detroit Free Press video / Detroit Free Press

DETROIT (AP) — A nonprofit fund that Gov. Rick Snyder created is paying for housing and some other expenses for Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report payments by the New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify Fund previously weren't disclosed.

Kevyn Orr was hired in March. Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel says the fund paid $4,200 a month for Orr's condominium at downtown's Westin Book Cadillac since April. She says it also will cover Orr's commuting expenses to visit family in Maryland.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says he plans to push ahead with plans to privatize food service for the state's 45,000 prison inmates under a proposed $145 million, 3-year contract.

Snyder tells the Detroit Free Press that he'll consider objections from Republican state Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba and unionized prison employees and others but won't let them block the process.

All Things Michigan / Flickr

About 1,500 Michigan Republicans were on Mackinac Island this past weekend. They were gathered for the state GOP’s biennial leadership conference, where much of the focus was on a reelection campaign by Governor Rick Snyder that has yet to be formally announced.

There were plenty of hints: Snyder basked in chants of “four more years.” He rolled out a campaign video. He invited people to sign nominating petitions to put him on the August primary ballot next year.

But when asked about a formal announcement on his reelection plans?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio


MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder all but declared his re-election campaign Friday, telling Republicans they can be proud of his record even as he defended signing a key component of the federal health care law unpopular with his own party's base.

"We're going to keep going and we're going to reinvent our state," Snyder said to loud applause.

“Screw you as far as weak Republicans, dude… I said, ‘screw you’ as far as calling me a weak Republican.”

“Quote of the week” goes to state Senator Howard Walker in a throw-down at a Republican luncheon in northern Michigan. The “screw you” was directed at a Tea Partier giving grief to Walker over the recent expansion of Medicaid to the working poor in Michigan.

Senator Walker, liberated by the fact that he is not seeking reelection, spoke his mind - and the mind of many establishment Republicans - who are getting fed up with a Tea Party that says “no” to everything.

"No" to a new international bridge in Detroit.

"No" to the Common Core student measurement standards.

"No" to more transportation funding.

And, the list goes on.

St. Lukes N.E.W. Life Center

Governor Snyder says the Community Ventures program created 1,000 jobs in the past year. It's a pilot program in Saginaw, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit focused on bringing jobs to the long-term unemployed.

Mike Finney is the president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which partnered with government agencies to bring jobs to those cities. He says the Community Ventures program mostly provides manufacturing jobs.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says new FBI crime numbers show there’s still work to be done to make Michigan cities safer.

Flint and Detroit topped the FBI’s list of most-dangerous cities, which is based on 2011 data.

But Governor Snyder says the state’s been aggressive about public safety, especially in Detroit, where violent crime rates have improved.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has agreed to answer questions in a deposition about his decision to let Detroit file for bankruptcy protection.

Attorneys for Snyder and other state officials had been resisting testifying based on executive privilege. They've now changed course and informed Judge Steven Rhodes during a hearing Tuesday.

Unions opposed to the bankruptcy say Snyder's sworn testimony is important. They say Detroit is ineligible for Chapter 9, a process that could let the city shed billions in long-term debt.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration and state employee unions are arguing about who should be in the room during contract bargaining.

It’s thrown a wrench into talks on contracts that will begin in 2015 for 35,000 union-represented workers including Department of Human Services caseworkers, environmental scientists, and corrections officers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder is trying to convince business leaders in China to take more chances on Michigan.

Snyder's office says he met Friday with executives from the Chinese parent company of Menominee-based Enstrom Helicopters and government officials in Chongqing.

He says Michigan offers tremendous opportunities for companies outside the United States to make foreign investment and expand globally.

Snyder left Michigan Wednesday on the 10-day mission to China and Japan. It's his third trade trip to Asia.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says extending Medicaid to more working poor people will save the state a lot of money – maybe $130 million next year. That begs the question of what to do with the budget windfall.

   The Snyder administration says the Medicaid expansion to 320,000 working poor people will help reduce uncompensated hospital care and other things that drive up the cost of health care. But the state should also see direct savings by shifting costs like prisoner mental health services to the Medicaid program.

The auto industry has been forever linked to the city of Detroit, but if that's the case, why is Detroit seeing such financial hardships while U.S. automakers are enjoying a boom?

On today's show we discuss the not-so-entwined Big Three and Detroit.

Then, Governor Snyder visits China . We'll find out why he's pushing so hard for a relationship between eastern Asia and Michigan.

But first, speaking in Sweden today, President Obama said responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria's government is the "moral thing to do." The President is on a three-day trip in Sweden and Russia for the G-20 summit. This is happening while senior officials in his administration are working to get support for intervention in Congress. 

Today we continue to get the view from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Yesterday on Stateside we heard from Republican Congressman Justin Amash and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. Now we turn to Democratic Representative Sander Levin to explain why he supports a targeted and focused response.

Official portrait

Earlier today, Rick Snyder landed in China for his third trade trip since becoming Michigan's governor.

He has scheduled stops in China and Japan during the week-and-a-half-long mission that starts today, and he's accompanied by at least 15 representatives from Michigan companies.

It's all part of the on-going effort to attract Asian investment in Michigan and strengthen trade relationships.

Snyder isn't guaranteeing that jobs will be created from this trip, but says he feels good that new business will occur as a result of the face-to-face meetings.

The Governor is also turning to tourism, putting an emphasis on selling "Pure Michigan" as a destination to Chinese tourists.

The trip is being paid for by donations to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, not by taxpayers.

Tom Watkins has been instrumental in strengthening ties between Michigan and China, and has traveled to China dozens of times since his first trip in 1989. He joined us today to talk about this trade mission.

Listen to the full interview above.

cncphotos / flickr

It's Wednesday, the morning we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics.

This week Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the approval of a Medicaid expansion in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder's trade mission to Asia, and Duggan becoming the official front runner of the Detroit mayoral race.

michigan.org

Gov. Rick Snyder is making his way to Asia on Wednesday, in an attempt to sell China and Japan on all things “Pure Michigan.”

This will be Snyder’s third trip to eastern Asia as governor. This time around, the governor is not only attempting to build business relationships with China and Japan, but also trying to pitch the Great Lakes State as a new American destination for Asian tourists.

Expanding the “Pure Michigan” campaign to international tourists is a relatively new endeavor for the state. Just this February, the state allocated an additional $4 million to the program for the sole purpose of bringing in foreign travelers.

And perhaps with good reason. In 2012, Chinese tourists beat out their American and German counterparts as the world’s top international tourist spenders. In just that year, Chinese sightseers spent $104 billion on global travel.

But will Michigan ever bypass popular U.S. travel destinations, like Times Square or San Francisco?

Gov. Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are looking to give final approval to a Medicaid expansion bill by day's end.

Gov. Rick Snyder secured a big victory last week when the state Senate voted to implement a key part of the federal health care law.

But the Republican-controlled chamber on Tuesday is expected to reconsider the issue of when the legislation should take effect. For newly eligible low-income residents counting on the medical coverage next year, it's the difference between waiting until late March instead of qualifying as early as Jan. 1.

The House is expected to send the legislation to Snyder's desk after receiving it.

In response to conservative critics, Snyder says Michigan's plan isn't a "generic" expansion of Medicaid and instead includes Republican-driven provisions that will need approval from the Obama administration.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Labor Day weekend signals an end to summer, and this week the Legislature returns to a full-time schedule.

The first order of business is final votes on expanding Medicaid.

Legislative leaders hope to wrap up the controversial question of expanding Medicaid to thousands of working poor people. The Senate has to vote on whether the coverage will begin January first, and a House vote is needed to send the bill to Governor Rick Snyder.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate's months-long debate over Medicaid expansion isn't over, even after the vote to provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.

Republican senators on Tuesday will reconsider the issue of when the legislation should take effect. While the Senate passed the bill 20-18 in dramatic fashion this past week, it fell two votes short of giving it immediate effect.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder in China next week

Next week Governor Snyder will travel to Asia on a third economic development mission to the region.  MLive.com reports that he will visit China and Japan to “market the state's export offerings, promote Michigan as a tourist destination, and convince Chinese business leaders that Detroit, despite its bankruptcy filing, is still a good place to invest." Funds for the business trip come from the Michigan Economic Growth Foundation.

Building inspectors charged with bribery

Yesterday Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette charged seven Detroit building inspectors with bribery.  Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports that Schuette says “inspectors took bribes to overlook code violations – in some cases, going to the lengths of falsifying architectural plans.” An investigation led by the Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force and the FBI led to yesterday’s charges.

Washtenaw program may provide ID cards for undocumented immigrants

Washtenaw County is considering a program that would issue identification cards to all its residents, including undocumented immigrants.  The Washtenaw County Board Chairman says that while undocumented immigrants are a large group of people affected by the ID program, they would not be the only ones to benefit.  Yousef Rabhi says “it could apply to immigrants; it could apply to folks that are homeless; it could apply to folks that are transgender and who don't believe that the male/female designation on the current state ID is representative of who they really are.”

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder pushes to expedite Medicaid expansion

A bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan passed the state Senate by a narrow vote earlier this week. But a vote to make those changes by January 1, 2014 failed.  This means that thousands of people will have to wait until spring to receive health coverage.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that Governor Rick Snyder hopes the Senate will revisit the issue as soon as Tuesday.

Deadline approaches for Detroit Public Schools recruitment

As the school year quickly approaches, Detroit Public Schools are running out of time to recruit new students.  Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports that the district’s summer goal was to gain 5,000 new students. If DPS does not meet this goal it may lose millions, resulting in possible layoffs and program cuts.  The district is currently retaining 93% of their students.

Detroit mayoral candidates continue campaign

Detroit mayoral candidates Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon are continuing their campaigns while primary election drama settles out.  Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek  reports  that both candidates “are trying to position themselves as champions of Detroit neighborhoods.” Duggan is rolling out a neighborhood plan to reduce blight, while Napoleon is accusing him of being tied to “downtown corporate interests.”

Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Yesterday, the state Senate approved legislation to extend Medicaid benefits to hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents. The measure initially failed when it didn't get the 20 votes needed to pass.

Later, the chamber agreed to reconsider the bill, and it passed when Republican Senator Tom Casperson switched his vote to 'yes.' 

Now, the bill is going back to the House before it's sent to Governor Snyder. 

Rick Pluta is the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He explained the potential timeline for when the House could vote on it, and when the bill (if passed) could take effect. 

To listen to the full interview, click the link above.

Something historic happened last night. The Michigan Senate finally cast a vote that means that nearly half a million citizens without health care will be able to have it. And they will be able to do so at no cost whatsoever to our state for three years, and only a pittance afterwards.

I thought of the former students I know with chronic pains they have to ignore because they can’t possibly afford a physician. Some of these people now clog our hospital emergency rooms for problems they should be taking to a neighborhood doctor.

You might have thought there would be dancing in the streets. But no. Most of the attention went to Tea Partiers and other sore losers snarling bitterly over “Obamacare,” which is not what this is.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State Senate passes Medicaid bill

Yesterday, the Michigan state Senate passed a bill to expand Medicaid.  The legislation is now headed for the state House.  However, Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that the bill may be delayed because the Senate did not vote to put the bill into immediate effect.

State will re-tabulate some Detroit ballots

The state elections department will recount some of the ballots from Detroit's mayoral primary.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "state elections director Chris Thomas says they won’t discount any votes because of how they were marked."  Thomas says "you can’t disenfranchise voters because election workers make a mistake, or don’t do what they’re supposed to do.”

Michigan congressmen request collaboration between President Obama and Congress on Syria

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Upper Peninsula Representative Dan Benishek joined seventeen other representatives requesting that President Obama consult Congress before taking action against Syria.  Many countries, including the U.S., are considering military action against Syria in light of recent chemical attacks against civilians.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "isolationists in Congress oppose another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East."

Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss Medicaid expansion, Governor Rick Snyder's political status, and the Michigan Tea Party.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s now up to the state House to decide whether to send a bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

That’s after the state Senate narrowly approved the bill yesterday.  

But the Senate may have also delayed when the expansion could actually take effect.

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