Blogs > Skoop's Blog

In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trust Me on Jobs

Wonder if we will ever have an election where the economy and jobs
not the defining issue. It would be refreshing to have something else
that preoccupies every candidate and voter but that day seems ions
We again see "jobs" and how to create them at the forefront as
we move toward the long awaited end to the primary season for governor.
So it seemed only fitting to try and nail down the contenders on
how many jobs their policies would create. Ever try to pound a nail
into jell-o?
GOP candidate Pete Hoekstra nailed this: "I can't give you a
number, no. People can give you a number but they're lying."
And he's got plenty of company as virtually everyone, except Rick
Snyder and Mike Cox, refused to tack a number to their economy
Ex-business guy turned Speaker of the House Andy Dillon refused to
play the game. "I resist that kind of thing because I think they're
(promises) theoretical. I want to focus on practical solutions."
His opponent, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero wants nothing to do with
promises either. "I won't give you and exact number now. You never
know how these things will work out."
Or how about Tom George? "I'm not making promises that I don't know
if I can keep or not" and anybody who does, either doesn't understand
the problem or "is trying to pull a fast one."
And there's Mike Bouchard who wants to create a job for everyone
who wants one but who the heck doesn't? No numbers from him either.
"It's a calculated guess," he confesses while remaining confident his
stuff will work.
Mike Cox does play the game and predicts "We'll create hundreds of
thousands of jobs." Has he done any research to back it up? He has
"looked at other states that have re-figured their tax structure" and
he says that has worked. No, he does not have a specific number of
jobs but "You can tell there will be growth."
So sport fans, it boils down to this. Each candidate is telling
you they are the guy to turn things around, but you will just have to
trust them to do do it.
Ah, trust is such a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


What would Bill Gates Do if he was running for governor and was
telling everyone he was the guy to help create new jobs and bring
Michigan back to it's economic glory days?
Betya by golly he would have developed a vision, drafted a plan and
then run the plan through one of those fancy-smancy Harvard business
economic models to see if it would actually work.
Turns out that Rick Snyder, who suggests he is just like the nerdy
Mr. Gates, is not like him when it comes to the use of economic models.
Sure Snyder has a vision and he's got his handy-dandy Ten-Point
Plan to reinvent Michigan but when asked if he used an economic model
to gauge the results?
Well he confesses, he did not.
Asked to slap a number on the extent of his job growing prowess the
other day, the Ann Arbor business guru noted, "We're going to create
thousands and thousands of job. It's going to be a gradual basis
Give him credit, all the other candidates in both parties have
steadfastly refused to promise how many jobs they would help to foster.
After all if they made a pledge, and didn't fulfill it, somebody might
write a blog about the failure.
So Snyder boldly wanders where career politicians fear to go but
when asked to back it up with some solid research on his job creation
blueprint, he came up short.
Question: "Have you run through an economic model to see how many
jobs would come out the other end or is it just a crap shoot on your
Answer: "I don't think either characterization is the right one.
There's not an economic model but it's not a crap shoot."
Wonder what Mr. Gates would say about that?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here We Go Again

This should shock no one. Lawmakers did nothing over their 14 day 4th
of July recess to resolve the budget impasse.
Didn't they say some of the committees might meet?
They did.
Didn't they say progress would be made?
Right again.
Did that happen?
And now a key capitol insider is privately confiding, they may not
get the budget done by October first. Instead of the planets aligning,
they seem to be un aligning, if that is a word Here we go again.
Ask budget director Bob Emerson a veteran of many legislative budget
He knows the senate Republicans want another all cuts budget but
"The house (run by the Democrats) will not pass an all cuts budget."
He himself concedes you can't balance this mess without new revenue and
he warns the senate GOP leader, there must be a compromise.
"Senator Bishop can't have his way on everything no matter how much
he stomps and pouts," Emerson asserts.
Bishop doesn't object to that characterization because standing in
the way of new revenue is "my role."
Can you say stalemate?
Can you say government shutdown?
And the only way to avoid saying either of those terms is to adopt
a continuation budget which becomes more likely every day the budget
goes unresolved.
In the past, Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said she would veto a
budget that continues spending at last year's already record low levels.
But will she say it this go-around?
If she does threaten to veto that safety gap budget, and lawmakers
pass one anyway, and if she uses the veto pen, then she will be the one
responsible for closing down the government.
That would add yet another lousy legacy chapter to the Granholm
saga which means you probably won't hear any veto threats from her
anytime soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coming to a School Near You

It's tough to put a face on the Tea Party movement because there
are so many faces in it. With so many splinter members of the Party,
no one is in charge, yet everyone is in charge.
But a guy named Gene Clem, not a country western singer, showed up
the other day to do the Off the Record broadcast. ( The MSM
has done such a number on the T.P. movement, you half expected him to
show up with horns coming out of his head, fangs on his fingers and
fire coming out of his mouth.
Not quite.
Clem is a retired Army captain and former engineer. In other words
he has a brain and he put it to good use as he tackled all the gnarly
questions the OTR panel tossed at him.
He gave a measured and reasoned performance; did not lose his
temper; did not take the bait when someone tried to bait him and
managed to put a face on the movement that looked down right
And it was not by accident, he revealed after the red light went
"Most of the folks in the movement are Type-A personalities," he
launched into his reason for being on the broadcast. As such he noted,
they are not big fans of the media, do not like being challenged
because they know they are right and so to put a non-confrontational
face on the movement, Clem was picked to do the talking.
It was a smart move.
But he did manage to make some news that may give non-Tea Party
folks some pause.
After the November elections, Clem wants to move into the schools
with a new course on how the U.S. Constitution was formed. He doesn't
think the teachers are doing a good job on that front and he figures,
if he can just get into the classroom, his band of retirees with Tea
Party roots can correct all that.
Oh my, even he concedes that will be controversial but he's on a
mission to do it.
"We're not going away," he asserts. So school districts and
non-T.P. parents be forewarned: Some one from the movement will be
knocking on your door next winter.
This should be fun to watch.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

Nothing in Detroit is ever easy. It's part of the charm and grit
that makes Motown, Motown. And when it comes to the schools, its even
The guy who originally poisoned the waters years ago was Gov. John
Engler. He probably had good intentions when he and his pals in the GOP
legislature abolished the citizen elected school board and installed a
"reform" board picked by the governor. It failed to reform much of
anything and the residue of ill-will toward the "Lansing takeover" is
still strong as ever.
The residents remember that and some have vowed, "Never again."
Now comes the current governor who has installed an Emergency
Financial Manager to run the DPS and she and others have given Robert
Bobb high marks. The district is still floating in red ink but there
is a sense, among some, that the movement is in the right direction.
But Mr. Bobb is likely to leave next March and then what?
This governor says give the Mayor of Detroit the power to appoint a
successor. Of course the newly installed "reform" City Council is not
about to rollover without some input of its own and it's getting quite
Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants the council to put this control
question on the ballot for the local voters to decide.
"They deserve that respect," she asserts with a warning.
If the citizens are denied the vote on this, she fears that
another GOP governor, with no roots in Detroit, might pick up where
John Engler left off.
Without saying it, what she is really asserting is: Detroit your
chances of meaningful reform are better with me that some GOP governor
who might have a different agenda.
Some agree with her, but not all. In fact some citizens threaten
to recall the council if it does the governor's bidding.
And the Black legislative caucus is divided. Some don't want a
public vote but want the legislature to iron this thing out. Still
others contend the local Detroit School Board can and should find a
In other words there is no consensus and lots of acrimony to go
with it.
Welcome to the rough and tumble world of Motown politics.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Does It Hurt or Help?

In recent days some of Rick Snyder's detractors have been slapping
the RINO tag on the Ann Arbor biz guy…you know Republican in Name Only.
And an endorsement from a former Michigan governor could play
into the hands of those opponents, but Snyder is supposedly ready to
take that risk.
There are strong indications that the last of the Michigan
moderate Republican governors, William Milliken, is poised to plunk for
Snyder. No one will confirm it at this hour, but by the time you read
this, it could be a fact.
The highly popular and revered ex-governor has never lost his
passion for politics and has made news in almost every election with
his endorsements often times for Democrats such as John Kerry and
Barack Obama.
Which is exactly why ultra conservatives were never fond of the
state's longest serving governor in the first place. However, he was
noted for winning elections by usurping the right wing of his party
with cross-over Democrats, independent voters and more moderate
It worked time and time again much to the chagrin of those
conservatives who could hardly wait to send Milliken back to his
beloved Traverse City.
By snaring the possible endorsement, Snyder hopes to work the
same magic. In fact his own campaign telegraphed the strategy in an
internal memo the other day.
It noted that Snyder is "much more strongly positioned with
ultra traditional Republican voters, independents and even cross-over
Democrats than any of the other candidates in the race."
Does the Milliken impending blessing hurt or help?
With Snyder he was probably not going to get the anti-Milliken
and die-hard right-wingers anyway. So this is a roll of the dice to
pick off another segment of the state GOP that longs for those moderate
days of old. But you can't tell how many of them are out there?
The Milliken tap on the head may not be the deciding factor,
but like Mom's ole chicken soup, for Snyder, it can't hurt.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Little Face Time

It is infinitely more fun to cover a campaign when you can talk to
the candidates. No offense to all the handlers, consultants,
hangers-on and everyone else who is paid to get in the way of direct
conversations between journalist and subject.
Ditch all the buffers and you can really learn what is going on in
their heads.
There was one of the unique days recently when both Andy Dillon and
Virg Bernero were in the same town, being interviewed in the same
building and they were gracious enough to share a little face time with
no go-betweens.
Democrat Dillon knocked down a piece of popular wisdom. That
"wisdom" suggests that since the House Speaker will have a tough time
luring hard core democrats to vote for him, the only way he can win is
to attract independent and some GOP voters.
"I'm not counting on crossovers to win. I do not need them," he
boldly goes against what the punditry class promotes.
Dillon admits his opponent has a pretty good lock on the special
interest groups but, "I'm talking to the voters directly and I've got,
in my view, the majority of the votes in the Democratic Party. My
profile appeals to them."
So there you have it, despite being pro-life, anti-stem cells, and
having fewer unions that the Mayor, he still wins the majority of
Bernero is sure not buying that. Not for a second.
"We have all these endorsements from the key constituencies of the
Democratic Party. Who will show up for Andy Dillon?" he wonders.
The feisty Bernero was more than eager to denounce all the polls
supposedly showing him behind anywhere from between ten and twenty
points. (It is now down to nine.)
"This is a bunch of non-sense. It's a bunch of crap. Let's get
real," he takes a pot shot at the number crunchers.
He rejects it as stale data and before anyone writes him off he
suggests with 50% of the democratic's undecided, he can win and will.
(That is now down to 39%.)
The chances of him winning?
"At least 50-50% or even 55-45% now today," he asserts.
Dillon pegs his odds are better than 50-50 while conceding, "The
wolves are out to get me." And he smiles when asked, "Will they?"
"No. We'll win."
You'll have the final say on who is right.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Take II: Stay or Go

As was kicked around in this space yesterday, GOP candidate for
governor Pete Hoekstra may have made one of the smartest decisions of
his campaign so far.
If you missed it, and shame on you for doing so, he sat in the
audience the other day as the President of the United States took a
pot-shot at him. In a twinkle of an eye he had to decide whether to
stay put or walk out.
He wisely choose the former.
But would have happened had other candidates been in that spot?
The "old' Mike Cox would have gone on stage and challenged the
president even though the former Marine knew he was the Commander in
The "new' more contrite and polite Mike Cox would have merely
said, "Thank you Mr. President" for the oblique reference and let it go
at that.
What about business guru Rick Snyder?
He would have stayed in his seat and taken it like a Nerd. He
would have ignored the comment but would have asked the White House
staff if the remark was part of the President's long term vision that
was part of a plan to reinvent the United States.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard a.k.a. John Wayne would have
sent in his pals from the Ottawa County Sheriff's department to detain
the President in order to check his citizenship to make sure he was not
working as an illegal alien. You can't be too sure about this stuff
and Bouchard is just the guy to protect all you "legals" out there.
Tom George, the Kalamazoo citizen/legislator/behind-in-the-polls
underdog would have stayed seated but asked for a photo opt with the
President afterwards. He needs all the free media he can get.
As for the two D's running for governor, it's highly unlikely the
democratic President would have uncorked one on them but just for
laughs, what if he did?
Oh my. This is the kind of stuff the Angriest Mayor in American
thrives on. Ole Virg Bernero would have told the President where to get
Andy Dillon, on the other hand, would have taken his decision
under advisement and waited a couple of weeks before deciding whether
to stay seated or storm out in protest...long after the Prez was back
on Big Bird One.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stay or Go: That Was the Question

GOP candidate for governor Pete Hoekstra had a split second to make
a decision: Stay seated or walk out?
Roll the tape back to last week in Holland, the place Hoekstra
calls home. He was in the audience near the front with about 300
persons behind him. On stage stood the POTUS better known as the
President of the United States.
Mr. Obama was on Hoekstra's turf to cut a ribbon at a new car
battery plant and the President wanted to show case how his new energy
policies were paying off with new jobs and new hope for Michigan's
As a veteran Congressman of 18 years, Republican Hoekstra knew the
drill: When the boss shows up in your backyard, you show up "out of
respect for the office." It's called protocol and even though Hoekstra
took some flak from the anti-Obama wing of his own party, he knew he
had to be there.
What he didn't expect, was what had him thinking: Stay or walk out?
The White House Press Corps had been tipped off that there would be
something in the President's speech dealing with Hoekstra. Hoekstra
got wind of it but had no idea would it would be. He was pretty sure
Obama would not endorse him for governor.
What the president did do was to criticize those in Congress who
had not supported his policies but yet still find time to "show up at a
ribbon cuttings."
Bam. There it was. The moment Hoekstra had been wondering about.
Had he had any hair on the back of his neck, it would have stood
up. The question was, would Hoekstra?
In that split second the choice was made: He sucked it in and sat
still, while he wondered what everyone behind him was thinking or
The President never mentioned Hoekstra's name. That would have
been bad form. He left it to the media and the audience to read
between the lines.
After the speech, everyone grabbed a shovel for the ground breaker
and just after the first blade of dirt was tossed, the national and
state media swarmed all over Hoekstra.
"It was un presidential and a cheap shot," he retorted.
In showing you how clumsy this White House can be, it managed to
hand reporters a new lead for their story that night and it was not
about the President embracing new energy in Holland.
Instead Hoekstra gained a ton of free media all over the state
just when he needed it most.
Frankly he owes the President a thank you note.
And while Hoekstra is at it, he should take a second to thank
that little voice in his head which said, "Don't leave!!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Was Kinda Shocked

State Senator Patty Birkhotlz was sitting at home the other night
when the phone rang. It was what they call in the biz, a robo call,
and the person on the other end wanted to know who she favored for
Republican Birkholtz from the West Side of the state explains the
call was from the Rick Snyder campaign.
So far this is a pretty routine story. Lots of folks are annoyed
by those robo calls almost daily. But the next question really got her
"Would you favor Patty Birkholtz" as a running mate with Mr.
Snyder the caller asked Ms.Birkholtz?
"I was kinda shocked," she recalls.
Yeah, but what did you say?
"Well I said, of course, I would support Patty Birkholtz on the
ticket," she laughed.
It is known that Mr. Snyder is testing both current and former
legislators for the second spot on the ticket and he calls that a "good
idea" but his campaign also reports he is testing other non-political
names as well.
Some might see this as a bit premature since it's not clear if
the Ann Arbor business guy will be the GOP nominee. But it is
consistent with Snyder who has a vision and a plan and finding someone
compatible with both is his objective.
So what about Birkholtz? Since her name was officially in the
mix, is she interested?
"I would love to help the next admistration in anyway I can," she
answered without answering the question..
So if he asked would you say yes?
"Obviously there are a lot of things to consider with that."
But you would not say no?
Now she is laughing again as she starts to move away from the
camera, "This is a no fair interview. I have to get back to my office."
Perhaps to answer some more robo calls.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Dead Duck" Still Quacking

"Mark Brewer (State Democratic Party chair) is not going to like
this,' blurted out Lansing pollster Bernie Porn just after he got off
camera basically declaring Virg Bernero a dead duck in the Democratic
race for governor.
"He has waited too long. I doubt it can be done. It would be a
dramatic turnaround for him to pull it out" the EPIC-MRA guy delivered
the bad news to the local TV audience.
At about the same time he was saying that, the "dead duck" was
appearing at a private fundraiser at the County Club of Lansing.
Hosted by a former MSU football star Tico Ducket and attended by an
array of lobbyist, party activists and a local land developer, Mr.
Bernero was pep-talking everyone into believing he "polls are wrong."
What else could he say, the polls are right?
The latest such survey had him down by twenty points with House
Speaker Andy Dillon sitting in the cat-bird seat with less than three
weeks to go.
The "Virg" has never lack for guts and passion. In the dead of
winter, with Lt. Gov. John Cherry still in the race for governor, there
was Bernero inching ever so close to announcing his candidacy while
boldly suggesting "Cherry can't win." He was right. Cherry can't win
cause he dropped out.
What the "Virg" has always lacked was the money to sell himself
and his passion to the voters.
One recalls sitting on the ninth floor of the Lansing City Hall
last January and the mayor had visions of replicating the Internet fund
raising miracle that President Obama masterminded. You could see the
dollar signs in the mayor's baby blues. Problem is his Internet was
not nearly as productive.
"The Mayor is popular in Lansing," one of his union backer
declared the other day. With that and 75 cents you can buy a cup of
Joe..not an election.
But then word recently came out that some of the heavy hitters
in the labor movement were pledging $2.5 million to revive the duck.
It's one thing to say you will spend that much; quite another to
actually do it. If unions don't cough it up, Andy Dillon is your
democratic nominee for governor.
Quack. Quack.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Did You Like the Debate?

A conversation with two older adults.
So Grandma what did you think of the debate the other night with the
GOP candidates for governor?
Actually Sonny, I watched the All-Star game.
What about you Nana?
There was one candidate who seemed very nice and polite and very
well mannered. He said thank you for every question that he got. I
liked that. Who was it?
What did he look like?
He was short.
Oh, that must have been Mike Cox. If he was polite, that was a real
change from his previous debate behavior where he's been very
aggressive and acted like a Marine..cause he was one. Any other
Yes, there was another young man. I seem to recall he had two first
You mean Tom George?
Right. He was a real little devil. He was not polite like Mr.
Cox. He kept talking about how the other gentlemen were offering tax
breaks that the state could not afford. That made sense to me but he
was always referring to a Con-Con. Did that have to do with letting
convicts out of prison?
No. Its an issue on the ballot to create a constitutional
convention to rewrite all state laws.
Oh. He thought that was a great idea but the other three said it
would cost too much money and the guy on the end said it would create
too much uncertainty.
That was Pete Hoekstra.
Hoekstra as in Hoekstra. What else did he say?
He said something about sending your kids to a home school or a
religious school and have the state give you a tax credit for that.
Didn't we vote on that years ago?
Yep. It went down in flames.
And Sonny there was another guy up there who said he was John
Wayne. I know Mr. Wayne and that man is no John Wayne.
(Laughter) That was the Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. He
thinks if you send a sheriff to the state capitol, he can clean up the
Does that mean he'd put all the lawmakers in jail?
One can only hope, my dear.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Look Now: Gov Race is On

If you listen intently, you can faintly hear the sounds of what
appears to be a race for governor going on out there somewhere. To be
sure that story can not compete with the likes of the Tigers doing
pretty darn good at the All Star break or the LeBron what's-his-name
story which has sucked most of the air out of the news hole in the
daily newscasts and papers.
Yet, the signs are there.
Take the recent flood of endorsements. Most of the smart guys
in the race have waited until after the 4th of July to uncork the bevy
of blessings.
Democrat Andy Dillon can boast about former Detroit Mayor Dennis
Archer adding his name to the growing endorsement list. Apparently
there is no loyalty bond between mayors and former mayors as Archer
wants nothing to do with Vir Bernro who challenges Dillon while running
the City of Lansing.
But Bernero is racking up his own list. His former opponent
Alma Wheeler Smith, who flirted with sitting out the democratic primary
because she really didn't like either Dillon or Bernero, has come off
the fence in what might be viewed as more of an anti-Dillon vote than
pro-Bernero, but an endorsement is an endorsement.
And over the weekend, the Virg decided to skip the
spectator-rich Cherry Festival parade up in T.C. The other six
candidates did show up but Bernero was in Motown standing next to
Congressman John Conyers and Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick who got
on board with him.
The decision to ship the Traverse City event may have been
calculated in that Bernero won't win the Democratic primary with those
folks up North, but he's got a better shot by rubbing elbows with
Conyers and Kilpatrick although, that in an of itself, is a bit dicey
since the two do have some political baggage they are lugging around.
Then there is Rick Snyder, the business guy who has zero
business endorsements. What do his pals know that we don't know?
Regardless another former GOP candidate for governor, turned
independent, Joe Schwarz is signing up.
West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra could not contain his joy
when he fell into the lap of Dr. James Dobson who has some pull with
the religious right. Never mind that Dobson mis-pronounced Hoekstra's
name in the one minute radio endorsement spot. Hoekstra will take it.
So see there is lots of stuff going on and this is just the
beginning of the end. So please get your head out of the box scores
and pay attention to a pennant race of another kind... at least until
election day August 3.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Looking Early for a Mate

He's actually thinking about it, but has not pulled the trigger.
It's generally assumed that if Democratic candidate for governor Virg
Bernero does not raise a bundle of cash soon or do something else to
change the game, he may be back to being full tim Mayor of Lansing on
August 4th.
The contest with Andy Dillon is not over but Dillon has a
comfortable lead even though he is not the darling of many in the labor
movement and Bernero is. Yet Dillon's not popping any corks since a
whopping 70% of the Democrats have not pick him or Bernero.
That means this is anybody's nomination.
Yet there are concerns within the Bernero camp besides the money
That may be the reason, he is looking to repeat a little bit of
Michigan history to turn this race around.
Back when Democrat Larry Owen ran for governor, prior to the
primary, he announced his running mate. Since he needed electoral help
in Detroit, he selected Rep. Teola Hunter who hails from that town.
It was a nifty move, caught the political media off guard and
generated a new story line. Had it not been for the fact that one of
Owen's opponents was very popular in Detroit, it might have worked.
But as it turned out that guy, somebody named Fieger, beat both
Owen and Hunter and the early lt. governor strategy went into the
history books as a "close but no cigar" moment.
Only to be revived recently by Mark Gaffney who runs the state
AFL-CIO. He reveals he has recommended to the Mayor to do the same
thing and find a minority female from Detroit or another urban area and
make the announcement before August 3.
Bernero has not tipped his hand on this but it's a good bet that
an informal search is underway even as you read this blog. The problem
is the casting call does not have many to audition.
Meanwhile, as long as the speculation lamp is lite, how about this
one: Andy Dillon may consider Denise Ilitch for his running mate.
Recall she flirted with running for governor way back when and has
Detroit and business ties and the two share consultants and friends.
My, my this could get interesting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Can't Have It Both Ways

To be sure, it's a trite line but in this case it seems to fit.
It appears that GOP candidate for governor Rick Snyder wants it
both ways. He wants to run as the consummate outsider with no links to
Lansing.. But in the next breath, if he wins the nomination, he will
likely select someone who was or is, what else, a consummate Lansing
insider for lt. governor.
Which is it?
Either he values political experience or he doesn't but it looks
like he does want it both ways.
Now, of course, the Ann Arbor business guy and non-career
politician wont't say anything about this on his run up to the August 3
primary. Because maybe even the public might want to know how he could
reconcile his loathing of politicians and yet consider one to help him
run the government.
His internal decision, based on a source familiar with his
thinking, is spot on. Since he knows very little about how Lansing
works he's pretty wise to seek someone who has been around the
legislative block.
If any of this sounds vaguely familiar, it should. The state has
just been there and done that with the current governor.
There's a good reason Jennifer Granholm was pressured by organized
labor to select John Cherry as her running mate. He had what she
She had the charisma but Cherry had the experience.
Snyder has neither but appears willing to concede that someone
might be smarter than him when it comes to weaving your way around
legislative road blocks. He gets points for reaching that conclusion.
But he should share all this with the electorate before it decides
whom to support. However if he does, it takes the edge off of his
campaign strategy that he is not "one of them."
He's onto something when he plays that card with citizens who are
fed up with career politicians.
But he may appear slightly out of sync with his own thinking if he
wants a running mate who is not like him. Which is why "Mom's" the
word inside the Nerd camp.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Virg on Verge of $2 Mil?

It may not have been a wake up call per se, but it was darn close
and must have gotten the attention of all those Virg Bernero for
Governor disciples out there.
It came from Mark Gaffney, president of the 400,000 member state
AFL-CIO. He was blunt.
"If he can't put together $2 million, we'll be in trouble by
election day," he opined on the Off the Record broadcast this weekend.
The take on Bernero for months has been, he has the passion to
run but not the money to win.
Setting the bar at $2 million still leaves the Lansing Mayor
about one million behind the other Democrat in the hunt, House Speaker
Andy Dillon according to Mr. G.
So can the Virg make it?
Gaffney reveals, "He's about half way there and I expect him to
make it."
But if he doesn't and the election was held today, the union boss
concedes Mr. Dillon wins.
And if that happens, don't be shocked to see Gaffney vote for a
Republican although he would never confirm that. But listen to his
dodge when asked if he would support Dillon.
"I don't know the answer to that," he dead panned. The reporters
around the table didn't have to read between the lines.
Bernero is certainly not giving in as he has internal polling
data that suggests lots of Democrats share Gaffney's disdain for the
House Speaker.
In fact the pollster, who does work for a guy named Obama,
confides that once a bio of Mr. Dillon was read to respondents, he has
never seen voters flip so fast.
While that is encouraging, Bernero can't win on that without the
TV ads to boost his name ID.
"He is well known in Lansing," Gaffney observes. But that's one
county down and only 82 more to go with the August 3 finish line
getting closer by by the day.
(Watch the Gaffney performance at WKAR.Org.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Didn't Quite Work Out

It's like it happened just yesterday. Gov. Jennifer Granholm had
just declared victory at a downtown Detroit hotel as Michigan voters
rewarded her with another four years. She was being whisked away by
her cheering campaign handlers when she breezed by a capitol
"We won the House," she blurted out like a kid who had received a
new bike for Christmas. Happy Days were here again as she contemplated
what that meant for her final four years in office.
First of all it meant she no longer had to deal with a GOP
controlled house and senate which was her fate for the first four
years. It had been a grueling tenure as she battled the likes of House
Speaker Craig DeRoche and his side kick Senate GOP leader Mike Bishop.
Let's just say they made her life miserable at times.
Now with Democrats stealing the house from the Republicans,
Granholm held control of two thirds of the legislative process.
Brighter days were sure to come.
Little did she know.
House democrats in a close election picked Rep. Andy Dillon as the
new Speaker. He was probably not Granholm's first choice, but hey, he
was on her side and he would be ten times more cooperative that
DeRoche…so the thinking went in the Granholm inner circle.
Four years later as she prepares to leave and he hopes to replace
her, you can not say this was a match made in heaven. To be fair, they
have worked together to get stuff done, but not all the time.
And once more the two Democrats are at odds. This time over
school spending.
Dillon's agenda to be governor doesn't not mesh with her desire to
balance the books.
They disagree over what to do with a $300 million surplus in the
school aid fund.
Dillon, who is on a mission to mend some fences in the labor
community, is siding with the Michigan Education Association on this
one. It won't do him any good in that the MEA has already endorsed
Dillon's opponent Virg Bernero. But by Dillon digging in his feet and
declaring the "surplus" should stay right where it is, it might gain
him some traction with rank and file teachers who might ignore the
union leaders.
The governor on the other side says she is willing to look at
swiping the surplus from the K-12 fund to shore up the red ink in the
higher education and community college budgets which she declares are
part of the "education infrastructure."
Instead of working cooperatively with her Democratic Speaker, the
governor finds herself in the awkward position of siding with
legislative Republicans who want to preserve the surplus, too.
So it is she and the R's against big D Mr. Dillon. It is not what
she contemplated on election night four years ago.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Super-sized Break

If you are like most folks, you enjoyed your extended 4th of July
weekend with all the wonderful weather for a change. And now you are
dutifully back with your nose to the grind stone trying to make ends
Back here, it's a ghost town. Michigan senators and
representatives, you see, have super-sized their July 4th holiday
which, for them, will run through July 21st.
You got one, maybe two days off and they get about 14! Yeah,
you're in the wrong career.
Oh O.K. All the staffers of all those legislators are reaching for
the email file to protest the implications that somehow their bosses
are at the beach, or mowing the grass or checking off the goodies on
the Honey-do list.
No sir-ree Bob. They are back home working on something
else…getting re-elected.
Lawmakers said earlier this year they wanted to get their main job
completed by July 1st i.e. write the new state budget and balance the
deficit in the old one.
Well, July one came and went and so did legislators. They left
town with only one budget bill completed. Sure it was a biggie, the
school aid bill, but what happened to the self-imposed deadline to iron
out the other spending stuff as well?
"They should be ashamed," notes turn coat Rep. Rick Jones (R-Grand
Ledge.) He tells a statewide Public TV audience, legislators should
stay in town, as he is doing, to finish the people's work before they
begin work on their own agenda of getting re-elected.
If someone took a poll on that, the general public would
probably concur with Mr. Jones, who is also running for the state
Lawmakers are under no obligation to finish the budget. They
have until October first to do that. What's the rush? They also have
every right to set their own schedules and this practice has been going
on for years and nobody has taken these guys to task.
Hence why should they change?
They won't cause it works for them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Subsidizing a Job Search-Take 2

Our last installment was about the trials and tribulations of
having a duel career of being in one elective office while running for
another. It focused on governor candidates Pete Hokestra, Virg Bernero
and Andy Dillon all of whom have day jobs as they seek to replace Gov.
Jennifer Granholm.
Left out of the first missive were the following: The two Mikes,
Cox and Bourchard, State Senator Tom George and Rick Snyder.
Of the seven in the field, since he is a non-career politician, Mr.
Snyder has the luxury of making his new job the moderator at Town Hall
meetings. Seems like any little berg where there is a microphone and
more than twenty gathered in his name, the Ann Arbor business guy is
ready to discuss his Ten-Point Plan for reinventing Michigan.
Since part of his team are former John McCain operatives, Snyder
has adopted this Town Hall retail approach to the campaign. Only
difference is former Presidential candidate John McCain drew thousands
to his shindigs, while Snyder is happy to see a hundred or so in front
of him.
Tom George is the senator from Kalamazoo and far as we can tell he
has not missed many, if any, state senate sessions. He's done his job
of voting and conducting hearings and has apparently left the
campaigning to his off hours although lawmakers lecture us that they
are on twenty-four seven so they are never really off.
Mr. Cox, the state's top law enforcement official and Mr. Bourchard
the top cop in Oakland County are often seen on the campaign stump
during normal business hours.
To be sure the Attorney General has lots of underlings tending the
shop while he rounds up money and support. They are use to it since Cox
ran for reelection four years ago and was A.G. at the same time. And
likewise for Sheriff Bouchard who is no stranger to running for office
while keeping an eye on the crime scene in his own backyard. Recall he
did this before when he run for the U.S. Senate and nobody complained.
Or if they did, maybe they ended up in the slammer?
At any rate, so far in this primary, nobody has raised much of a
stink about public officials campaigning while on the public clock and
the public dime. Maybe you could care less, which is your
constitutional right and lots of folk are exercising it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Subsidizing a Job Search

Running for governor is a full time job, but what if you already
have a full time job on top of that?
Well it creates some interesting challenges and can often provide
an issue for your opponents to exploit.
Say hello to Congressman Pete Hoekstra whose real job is to
represent the good folks from West Michigan in the U.S. House of
Representatives. They pay him a pretty good salary to be there to vote
yeah or nay.
The other day when the House was voting on extending unemployment
benefits, Mr. Hoekstra did not vote either way. He could not vote. He
was at a fund raiser trying to cobble together enough money to secure a
new job…Governor of the State of Michigan.
Is he vulnerable on missing that critical vote? His opponents
will answer that for him. The answer, of course, is yes.
Hoekstras is not the only one confronting this, "Where should I
be?" dilemma
House Speaker Andy Dillon and his democratic opponent Virg
Bernero both have full time jobs. Dillon runs the Michigan House here
in Lansing and is very sensitive to being there when his campaign is
tugging on him to attend fund raisers, knock on doors and give speeches
to whomever is willing to listen.
Because the house and senate have taken the next two weeks
off..sort of a super extended July 4th break, he can now do that.
The Mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero, does not publish his
schedule but it's a pretty good bet that as the underdog in this
primary, he has not done a lot of sitting in his office on the ninth
floor of City Hall. He has a trusted aide who is running the joint and
so far there's been no tragedy in Lansing that has demanded the Mayor's
attention. And unless all those oil globs down in the Gulf of Mexico
suddenly find their way into the Grand River, you won't find His Honor
around these parts very often.
Years ago when Dick Posthumous ran for governor he was also the
Senate Majority Leader and he made a choice about which assignment was
more important. The West Michigan Republican missed 70% of the senate
votes. 70%.
Posthumous's buddy, Gov. John Engler, came to the candidates
defense glibly contending that this was just the way it was. That
takes care of that.
All this leads to this perplexing question: If the taxpayers are
paying you to do one job, and you take time off to pursue another,
should they be subsidizing that job hunt or should you pay them back
for the time you did not punch in?
You know what the pols would say, don't you?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vanilla or Chocolate?

Vanilla or chocolate? Baseball or football? Tennis or golf?
You can bet your bottom dollar the two democrats running for
governor had never been asked to pick one or the other and when they
did, you could tell that Virg Bernero and Andy Dillon really don't have
much in common.
Thanks to Frank Beckmann over at WJR for asking them.
He also inquired as to the most influential person in their
political and personal lives. Again a 180 difference.
Bernero selected the women in his life. His aunt Betty who runs
the Waterford township clerks office gets credit for turning him into
the politician he is today and on the personal side his mom and now his
wife get the nod.
Dillon felt his father had shaped him the most on both counts.
The House Speaker says Judge Dillon had "discipline and compassion" and
a good balance of both.
Even more differences emerged as the radio interview went on.
What did you want to be as a kid?
Bernero, like many, wanted to be a cop and then later on "maybe
president." No sense shooting too low.
Dillon was more cerebral as a kid hoping to land a job as a
businessman, work in government and finance. "I've done them all," he
told Beckmann.
The radio guy asked about practicing in front of a mirror to
prepare for a political assignment? Dillon said no and tacked on, "I
probably should have done more of that." It would have come in handy
now on the stump.
And what would you change about yourself?
Bernero has said this before, "I always strive to be more
diplomatic…I can ruffle some feathers." He's got that right.
And Dillon blurted out, "get out of government."
Maybe he was joking, maybe he wasn't thinking, but the answer
was probably spot on. He really does not like politics that much and
almost never got into it and here he is running for governor.
It was a telling answer and for some, it leaves you wondering if
he'd be crushed if he lost? Bernero, who has wanted to do this all his
life, probably would be.
As for the questions in the first sentence. Bernero is vanilla,
baseball and tennis. And you guessed it, Dillon is chocolate, football
and golf.
Two peas in a pod, these guys ain't. (sic)