Tomorrow Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first state of the state speech to a joint session of the legislature and a statewide television audience. I’ve seen a lot of these speeches, and believe this may be the most eagerly anticipated one ever.
Michigan is stuck in twin enormous economic crises, one affecting state government, which has a perennial massive deficit, and the other affecting hundreds of thousands without jobs.
Governor Snyder is brand new, and we are still getting to know him. We want to have a better sense of who he is, and, especially, how he plans to get us out of the mess we’re in.
But all this got me wondering: Who was the first governor ever to give a state-of-the state speech? The first I remember was Governor Milliken, but how far back did the tradition go before him?
I knew that in the old days, governors just sent an annual written message to the legislature. U.S. Presidents used to do the same, until Woodrow Wilson started the tradition of showing up at the capitol and delivering a speech in person.
Since then, almost every president has done so. But who was the first governor to do so? I asked Bill Ballenger, the publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. “Wow,” he said. “I don’t know.”