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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A2-Midland New Power Centers

Once upon a time in a land far far away, the City if Detroit
actually possessed real power in the Michigan legislature. Guys like
Coleman Young, George Montgomery and Mo Hood roamed the halls of state
government and tossed their weight around. Let's just say Detroit
benefited from having powerful folks in high places.
Then, as they say, things changed.
Gradually the power edged toward west Michigan. Guys like Dick
Posthumus, Ken Sikkema, and others emerged as leaders in the state
The earth has moved again but this time along an axis between
Ann Arbor and Midland.
Two of the last four governors have been Michigan State
University grads, but Rick Snyder will be bringing all things maize and
blue to the capitol corridors for the first time in ages.
And out of nowhere, Midland, home of all things Dow, has
suddenly emerged as the home of mucho power both in the nation's and
state capitols.
Say hello to Dave Camp who is the new GOP chair of the, as they
say in D.C., the powerful Ways and Means committee which is just what
the name implies. If you want to have your "way" in Washington you
need a "means" to get there and Midland's own Congressman Camp has
control of the purse strings. It's a nice plumb for the region.
Back in the state legislature, you have Sen.-elect John
Moolenaar (R-Midland) who is co-chair of the senate budget panel. No
money will be spent unless he signs off on it. And also from Midland
is the new House GOP Floor Leader Jim Stamas who is the traffic cop
every time the house meets.
And to round out the slam dunk for the region, the state's new
top cop is Attorney General Bill Schuette who also hails from Midland.
Not bad for a region that has gotten little attention in the
past, but now it can boast its own versions of Coleman Young, George
Montgomery and Mo Hood…much to Detroit's chagrin.
(Special thanks to Rusty Hills from Mr. Schuette's staff for
pointing out this power shift.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beating Man of Steele

When is the last time the national Republican Party had a former
Teamster member running the show?
Answer: Never.
But that could change.
Hard to believe but a guy who was in the union when Jimmy Hoffa
was still kicking, actually has a shot at the top job in the GOP and to
hear Saul Anuzis tell it, he could pull this off.
It's his second bite of the apple as he ran once before and lost
to Michael Steele who has become his own worse enemy with some of the
dumb things he has said and done during his tenure.
Think "foot in mouth" disease.
Steele beat Mr. Anuzis the last time because the party needed a
voice and a face and being a former media talk show host, Steele fit
the bill.
This time out, Anuzis believes the GOP will have plenty of
faces, including the myriad of folks who will run for president in 2012,
Hence Saul-baby, who lives in Lansing and chaired the state GOP
from 2005 to 2009, argues it is time for a "nuts and bolts guy" to
takeover who can focus on raising money.
He's making the pitch to the 168 member GOP National Committee
and spending a gawd-awful 14 hours a day on the phone working the group
hoping to get to 85 votes.
So far he's the only one in the hunt and it's unclear as to
whether Mr. Steele has the guts to seek re-election. Published reports
suggest some of the 168 are telling him to take a hike. If he's out,
Anuzis has a better shot at this national post.
As for his Teamster roots, he is using that as a selling point.
He argues he is the proto-type of the voter the party needs to attract.
He grew up in Detroit, comes from a rich ethnic background (didn't
learn to speak English until he was seven) and he's been in the private
sector trenches coupled with his GOP activism record. Lansing boy
defeats the man of Steele? Maybe.
(See Anuzis on Off the Record at

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jones Returns Bridge Money

In a world where the motto is: "Go along, to get along," Rep. Rick
Jones didn't get the memo.
The Grand Ledge Republican lawmaker is making the rest of his
"pals" look bad by taking the action he did the other day.
The news media has been awash lately with reports that the owner of
the Ambassador Bridge has been spreading around money in this town like
you put butter on a piece of toast. It's been thick and pervasive.
The bridge folks want lawmakers to kill a proposed second span
between Detroit and Windsor and so far they are winning.
Rep. Jones got a $500 check for his state senate bid and he
returned the money. What would you expect from a former sheriff? But
then he went on statewide Public TV and proudly announced it.
Jones waxed on how he did not want the appearance that the bridge
guys were influencing his vote on the matter. He even pulled the
canceled check out of his pocket and gave it to reporters.
So you're thinkin' what's so bad about that?
Well once he plopped the check on the table, one reporter asked if
the other lawmakers who had accepted the checks had an ethical
appearance problem?
Oh. Oh.
Jones dove for the high grass and back peddled faster than Lance
Armstrong. The self-righteous lawmaker opined that he was only
speaking for himself and would not pass judgment on his colleagues.
But the damage was already done.
Citizens are not stupid. If one lawmaker believes taking money
from this group is wrong, what about the those who did not stuff the
dough back in the mail?
Jones looked good. His "friends" in the house and senate...not
so good.
They may not be friends anymore.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

T.G. Stuffing

The news watch never stops so even though it is Turkey Day, the suits
want the beast fed, so open wide.
Today's offering is on the lighter side since you will be filled up
with other stuff soon.
Insiders report that the governor-elect is poised to make some more
Rick Snyder will select Mike Cox for a new post: Director of
Parties. Think Kwame Kilpatrick.
He will also tap Virg Bernero to run the administration's new anger
management program.
There's been some angst between the new attorney general and the
incoming governor, so the pro-active Mr. Snyder is going to ask Bill
Schuette to resign and become governor instead. Schuette wants the job
but has to wait perhaps eight years to get it. Snyder figures, why wait.
Andy Dillon is also having second thoughts about keeping the state
Treasurer's job. This is in keeping with Mr. Dillon's M.O. of not
being able to decide what the heck he wants to do. For example, it
took him two years to figure out if he wanted to run for governor.
It can also be reported that before he picked Dennis Muchmore to be
his Chief of Staff, he first offered the post to one Jennifer Granholm.
She turned him down saying based on her eight years of experience, he
doesn't need a COS.
And finally, everyone in town is wondering what the current gov.
will do after January one? Here's the inside intel on that: A
prominent cable network is set to announce that Ms. G. and Sarah Palin
will anchor a new program entitled: Two Babes in the Woods.
Pass the dessert. (BTW, none of the stuffing in this turkey of a
blog is true..if you have not already figured that out.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pure/Bridge Showdown

The do-nothing Lame Duck session of the Michigan legislature could
actually turn into a do-something session that could also turn into a
barn burner.
Quiet efforts are unfolding to push through the bridge between
Detroit and Windsor and salvage the Pure Michigan tourism/ad campaign
for next year.
Talk about your heavy-lifting.
Governor-elect Rick Snyder is reportedly being courted back stage
to add his input to both issues. He has publicly embraced saving the
Pure Michigan stuff but has never embraced a method to finance it.
On the hot-potato bridge issue pitting the owner of the Ambassador
bridge against the rest of the free world, the proponents are
whispering in the new gov's ear that it would be a great way to launch
his administration by creating 10,000 badly needed construction jobs.
For his part, Mr. Snyder has said he needs to "study" the bridge,
but he's being urged to listen to those around him who have studied the
thing and are on board. That would include guys like Mark Murray, Doug
Rothwell and former and present governors. They see this as an
economic growth issue while the opponent sees it as encroachment on his
monopoly on bridge traffic which turns a nifty little profit.
The fly in the ointment is the senate GOP leader Mike Bishop who
first said there would be a vote and then he changed his mind blaming
the Michigan Department of Transportation for not providing enough data
on which to base a vote.
M-DOT says baloney.
All this is simmering to a boil for when the salons return here on
November 30, Dec 1 and 2 for what could be a heck of a Lame Duck battle.
These two issues may appear to be dead but there are lots of
folks working night and day to make the corpse wink.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Labor Wars

These are tenuous times if you walk around with a State of Michigan
employee ID around your neck. You have every right to believe there
may be something else around your neck sooner than later.
Can you say noose?
The governor-elect is making noises about reducing state government
employee salaries and maybe even benefits.
The current governor and lawmakers have already taken a chunk out
of the "bennies' which is why three labor unions hauled the good
governor into court to block that.
Workers are being forced to kick-in 3% for their health care
costs, but one labor leader complains lawmakers had no right to do that.
"It's a bargaining issue," protests Ed Williams who runs the UAW
Local 6000 with thousands of state bureaucrats in the ranks.
Mr. Williams contends the Granholm folks signed a contract
saying there would not be any more concessions until the new contract
is opened on January one.
"If they needed more concessions or more money from the
employees, they should have come to us. We've pretty much given them
everything they've asked for."
So was this a broken promise?
"Yes, absolutely."
Now comes Mr. Snyder saying he wants to compare the paychecks of
those on the public payroll against those on the private roles which is
code for, brace yourself for another round of cuts across the board.
It's not of a question of "if" it will happen. The only
guessing game is "how" much of a sacrifice will be demanded.
This will be one of the new governor's first tests at his
"Let's-work-together" mantra. He says he wants to talk to the unions
but they probably won't like what they hear.
Fact is, as the new state CEO begins the arduous task of
"re-inventing Michigan," state workers will be the first ones in that
Can you also say labor wars?

Monday, November 22, 2010

D's Not Powerless

Not so fast on the summarily dismissing the influence of legislative
democrats on the process in the new year with the GOP in control of
The easy and yet misguided thing to do is to conclude they have
"virtually no power" as one observer noted the other day. On the
surface it does make sense: House Democrats no longer control that
body and have 43 instead of 67 votes. Things are even gloomier over in
the senate where the Democrats are down to an even dozen, not even a
baker's dozen. They have 12 lousy votes and can do nothing to
influence what the Republicans want to do other than hope the R's will
at least talk to them before using their 26 votes to do whatever they
darn well please.
But and there is always a "but" when it comes to the political game.
The new governor has advised that he wants Democrats to vote for
some of his programs and if that's so, Rick Snyder will have to give
them some reason to do so which in turn means he will have to
compromise and change some of his suggestions to meet their wishes.
Let him try that and see what the Republicans begin to mutter
either under their breath or in front of the cameras: "Hey, we have the
votes. Why do we need the Democrats? Let them go to (pick a location.)"
Then what does the bi-partisan governor do if segments of his own
party leave him high and dry?
That's where the Democrats suddenly become relevant.
There are a whole host of folks in this town that predict, the more
moderate appearing governor-elect will actually "need" Democratic votes
to implement some of his policies including budget cuts.
Let's take the cities in general and the City of Detroit
"I want to be a partner to Detroit," Mr. Snyder told audiences all
the state, including citizens who live beyond 8 Mile Road.
If being a partner includes shuffling some state tax dollars
inside of 8 Mile Road, how many out state GOPer's will sign up for
that? You can count them on no fingers.
Now all of a sudden those 43 House and 12 Senate Democrats are
relevant and anything but "virtually" powerless. And that could apply
to other issues as least the D's hope so.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Needless to say Rep. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) won't be getting any
invites to any Granholm going-away parties. He has been a pain in the
posterior to this governor for years and at one point, he claims, he
was even banned from attending any ceremonies with her.
And as she prepares to pack her bags, here comes Mr. Jones whacking
her one more time before she walks out the door.
He appeared on the Off the Record broadcast and the former sheriff
proudly announced he had caught the governor red-handed at trying to
shepard through some 11th hour pay raises for non-unionized state
"Shame on her," he lamented in front of the cameras.
The broadcast hit the Internet at noon and by sundown the 28 pay
raises went down with the sun as the gov's office dismissed it all as
just one grand "mistake" which the governor knew nothing about.
So who made the mistake?
How come the governor didn't know?
And if Jones had not blown the whistle would the gov's guys have
caught the "mistake?"
All darn good questions which lack sufficient explanation at this
point as the gov's office has buttoned its lip.
Jones, of course, is not buying the "governor-didn't-know" excuse
claiming the "buck stops with her."
The administration did reveal that the worker bees who got the
temporary raises, averaging about $4 thou apiece were, in some cases,
supervisors making less money that the folks they supervised.
It was a nice gesture to help them out, but Mr. Jones apparently
does not like nice gestures when the state is facing a crunching $1.6
billion deficit.
Score it Jones: 1. Gov. Granholm: Zippo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who Will Be First?

For you history buffs, Michigan has had one school district go
into the red. And the Kalkaska school insolvency is credited in part
with spawning a new way to finance all our schools.
The question is, when will the first city in Michigan end up in
the red and what reforms if any will follow that?
Hamtramck is in the lead right now, but it's got 67 competitors
which are in various phases of fiscal disarray and the bankruptcy clock
is ticking.
Gov. Jennifer Granhom hears the tic-toc saying, "If we continue
down this path (not fully funding the cities) you will have more and
more cities that are going to be asking for an Emergency Manager or
Fortunately for her, she will be long gone if it comes to that
which means the new gov and new legislature can begin their New Year
worrying about that, too.
Over at the Michigan Municipal League, which lobbies the
legislature for funding, it continues to watch the perfect fiscal
storm. It's one part loss of revenue from the state, another part loss
of dollars from fewer property tax collections and a final part of
rising costs without enough dough to pay for them.
"No city wants to be the first to go into bankruptcy,' advises
MML lobbyist Andy Shore but "It's possible if the situation gets more
Cities cry out they have already cut too many cops, too many
firefighters, and too many services. There is $400 million in state
revenue sharing that is also at risk, and no one would be shocked if
that got cut, too.
Shore concedes municipalities have the option to raise local
millages and some have done that. Others are scared to try for fear of
voter push back. He would like to see lawmakers take the lead and do
some revenue raising on their own.
Like the old song goes, "Something's Gotta Give" and if not,
some city is going to join Kalkaska for the dubious distinction of
being the first to go under.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dillon: Mr. Can't Decide

Soon-to-be ex-House Speaker and soon-to-be new State Treasurer Andy
Dillon will never be given the nickname "Trigger-Happy."
Not by a long shot if you'll forgive the pun!
Dillon is Mr. Should-I-Or-Shouldn't-I when it comes to politics.
On the last day to file for his first bid for the Michigan House
there was Redford's favorite son, Mr. Dillon, contemplating whether to
file or just stay out of the race.
He, of course, filed and soon found himself in the thick of things
in Lansing and eventually became the top Democratic Dog as Speaker.
Then came the laborious process of deciding whether to kick it up
a notch by running for governor.
For the vast majority of folks who decide to do that, they've
known it for years and making the final leap is not that big a deal.
Not with Mr. Dillon. He took two loooong years to decide and even when
he did, there were some in this town who felt he still didn't have the
perquisite fire in his belly to pull it off.
He did not and let a twenty point lead slip away which allowed Mr.
Fire-in-His-Belly, Virg Bernero, to nail the Democratic nomination
leaving the reluctant Mr. Dillon to contemplate, what if?
Ah, but the story goes on with the same M.O.
Turns out Mr. Dillon and one Mr. Rick Snyder spent some time
chatting during the campaign and when they counted the votes, it was
Mr. Snyder who came a-knockin' once again at Mr. Dillon's door.
Would you be my new state treasurer?
In typical fashion, Mr. Dillon did not say yes or no.
He worried about the daily drive from home to the capitol; he had
done it for what seemed like forever. One friend also reported, Mr.
Dillon was not exactly eager to jump back into the political fire, but
in the end, he said yes.
But on the day he was trotted out to the media, the first words
out of his mouth with Mr. Snyder standing at his side were, "I wasn't
certain this was the right move for me."
At least he's honest…and consistent.
Wonder if he has this much trouble deciding what to have for

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wet Behind the Ears

If you're hunting for a label to slap on the new state government
that takes over on January first, stop hunting.
"Inexperienced" works.
65 new House members out of 110.
29 new comers in the Michigan Senate. (A bunch are former house
One brand new, never been in town before, governor and his cabinet
of newbies and as if that is not enough, look for about 10% of the
state work force to be brand-spanking new, too.
The state bureaucracy gets little attention except when candidates
running for office try to exploit it as they pander for votes.
"Elect me and I'll show those over-paid state workers a thing or
two," is sometimes the pitch.
Well turns out 4,755 of those workers have had it up to here and
are splitting faster than you can say,"Buy-out.' Mind you, these are
the senior, senior members of the state government work force with,
nobody knows, how many combined years of experience.
They're out the door by January first, the very day that all the
other wet-behind-the-ears crowd comes in the door. Please observe
which group will be smiling.
The 4,700 workers amounts to about 10 percent of the work force
and the retirements cut across all departments with the Human Services
Department taking one of the larger hits. These are the folks who deal
with foster children, welfare families and abused children.
It's not clear how many of these will be replaced with newer and
less experienced workers? The current governor has said two for three
is the goal, but the in-coming governor could change the ratio if he
sees fit.
So if you are one of those who thinks experience in government is
a waste of your previous tax dollars, get out your New Year smiles
because "inexperience" is now the word of the year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Snyder Hires Even More Experience

It's not hard to miss the pattern here. The consummate political
outsider, who now finds himself to be governor-elect, has come to the
harsh realization that he needs somebody to help him run state
Make that some bodies.
To his credit Rick Snyder knows he lacks the day to day skills, at
this point, to not only reinvent the government but make it work at the
same time. It's a steep climb.
And so far the bulk of his appointments have been climbing that
mountain for years and they will give him a leg up the hill.
Dennis Muchmore fits that bill.
Not a household word in the hinterland, but around these parts,
Muchmore brings to his new Chief of Staff role, a ton of experience and
most of it good.
He's been a staffer for two conservative senators out of Macomb
County years ago; he's lobbied for and then left one of the top lobby
shops in this town; he formed his own multi-client firm and when he
left there, he ran the Michigan United Conservative Clubs.
Now he will be Mr. Snyder's major gate keeper which is what COS's
But why?
Like his boss, Mr. Muchmore has been frustrated with the way things
are run in Lansing..or not run as the case may be.
"I've not been happy with the way things are. I've got a chance to
do something positive and I'm going to take it." he tells the
correspondents who have covered him on and off for over thirty years.
His connection to Doug Rothwell, who heads the Snyder transition
taxi-squad, helped to open the door since Mr. Snyder says "I've known
him for a couple of years" but it does not appear they are long lost
Muchmore knows what he's getting into and his appointment was met
with good reviews.
That's the easy part and as he gets into the heavy lifting, he can
hear the words of former Sen. John "The Fox" Bowman of Roseville:
"What goes around, comes around."
Which is code for be careful what you do to others, because it has
a way of coming around to impact you, too. Words to live by for the
new Chief of Staff.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Virg Had No Chance

If God was a Democrat and had sent down a saint to run for
governor, the saint would have lost. That's how bad it was on November
2 according to pollster Bernie Porn from EPIC-MRA.
But for all you Republicans gloating over running the table and
capturing every office under the sun, Porn has some advice for you,
too. "It was not about liking Republicans." He asserts the voters were
just "spanking the Democrats."
A perfect storm slammed into Virg Bernero's ill-fated from the
start campaign. Porn says the race was over after the primary and
Bernero never had a chance.
Here's why: (1) A whopping 70% of the independent voters went for
Rick Snyder. That's unbelievable. (2) The young first-time voters who
flocked to the polls for Barack Obama in 2008 were AWOL for Mr.
Bernero. (3) The 39% voter turn out in Detroit was miserable (3a) Mayor
Dave Bing "had no impact" Porn reflects and to boot only 55% of the
union house holds voted for Bernero.
Add it all up and there was no way for the math to add up to a
Bernero victory.
Couple that with the wrong-headed decision to retread the
"He-shipped-jobs-to-China" commercials. "It didn't work and the
commercials should have been re-tooled," Porn advises.
Plus Bernero "never introduced himself to the voters" and Snyder
did that from the get go and by the time the Lansing Mayor got around
to doing that, two weeks before the election, the dye was cast. The
voters knew and were comfortable with the Snyder persona and were still
trying to figure out who Bernero really was.
Call it a bad day at the office for Democrats who saw the office of
governor slide easily into the hands of the non-career politician from

Friday, November 12, 2010

He's No Mike Bishop

Randy Richardville is no Mike Bishop. Not by a long shot.
The soon-to-be ex-Senate GOP Leader Mr. Bishop was loathed to even
whisper the term "revenue increase" during his rocky tenure as head
hancho in the upper house.
So what does the leader in-waiting utter on the first day of his
"I don't think anything is off the table completely," and that
includes new revenue.
Stop the presses!
Note that the Monroe Republican is not endorsing finding new money
to help wipe out next year's $1.6 billion sea of red ink, but the fact
that he won't remove it from the table is hugely significant.
And the newly installed senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer
could not be happier. The East Lansing senator never had much of a
working relationship with the aforemention Mr. B. but she says she can
work with Richardville who is "more open."
She favors closing tax loopholes to raise new revenue.
Richardville has not blessed that but he was asked about getting to
the point in next year's budget showdown where some additional dollars
might be needed and he replied, "I think that's fair. Yeah. We have
to look at everything."
Now Mr. Snyder, the new gov on the block, has not joined in this
chorus, but there are those in this town who believe it's only a matter
of time before he joins Dandy Randy in chatting about all this.
To date the governor-elect has only said that it is his "goal" to
avoid a revenue increase. "Goal" is a carefully chosen word and
everyone has that as an objective. But the former CPA can add and he
might not get to 56 house and 20 senate votes to pass an all cuts
Whitmer predicts he can't do it.
Richardville warns his new GOP caucus with not "lead" with a
revenue hike, and that makes sense, but at the end of the day, they
might go there.
And for Democrats who want new revenue, they'll take that to the
bank because "might" is a lot more than they ever got out of Mr. Bishop.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Benson: Don't Forget Me

The problem with losing an election is that if you really want
to run for another office, you have to figure out how to maintain your
political visibility. Being a loser is not very conducive to that.
The defeated candidate for Secretary of State, described by
some as a rising star in the party, has figured it out.
Look for Jocelyn Benson to announce soon the formation of a
"Citizen's Redistricting Committee.'
A what?
Ms. Benson reports the good folks in Ohio did this and it's
designed to give the citizens some input on the process of redrawing
the voting district lines. "It's a watchdog" role she asserts.
O.K. Its not a barn burner of an issue, but it is a way for
her to lick her wounds from losing the SOS job to Oakland County Clerk
Ruth Johnson and not fall off the political map at the same time.
Benson will co-chair the panel with a Republican to be named
at a later date. As such she can continue to travel around the state,
taking testimony from typical folks who don't know squat about
reapportionment. But it's a way to get some free media on the tube and
keep your name in the newspapers, just in case another run for office
is out there.
And is she interested?
Does a bear, etc.
Benson does not rule out another run for elective office as
long as it allows her to advance the same agenda she tried push against
Ms. Johnson. Benson is all about election and campaign finance reform
and now add redistricting to her "must-do" list.
And while she is doing that, she can also keep her persona in
front of the voters by running the Wayne State University Damon Keith
Center for Civil Rights.
Ms. Benson wants to run for something and she now has two
vehicles to make sure the voters don't forget her.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas Tree and Trust

Nobody can remember the last time this happened.
Governor-elect Rick Snyder rode into Dodge and dazzled both R's
and D's with his message of, "Let's work together" and chuck the party
One Democrat confessed he was "very impressed" as Mr. Snyder made
the rounds of the house and senate Republican AND Democratic caucuses.
"The assignment is to get the message out that it's a new day,"
reports the new governor's legislative lobbyist and former Lt. Governor
Dick Posthumus.
And that day began with the new guy in town appearing at an
early morning gathering of 91 new and old legislators in an event
sponsored by the freshmen caucus in the Michigan House.
Rep. Lesia Liss (D-Warren) one of the co-chairs of this
bi-partisan gang of 44 was beside herself at the success of the meeting.
"I was surprised. I did not think we could make this work," and
she credits the appearance of Mr. Bi-Partisan for driving up the
Mr. Snyder also met in private with House Democrats. It went
"I thought his openness, the way he addressed the crowd was very
unexpected," reflects Democrat Mark Meadows of East Lansing.
And apparently the rest of the House D's concurred as they gave
the Republican governor in-waiting a standing ovation when it was over.
For his part Mr. Snyder was all smiles.
"I really appreciate the reception from the legislature. It's
been fabulous," he gushed.
Aw, but.
It is so easy to talk about cooperation now. Every governor
from the start of time has professed the desire to foster same. But
when the votes get tough, and the rhetoric gets heated and the two
parties head for their respective corners, bi-partisanship can remain
only a hyphenated word.
Snyder, in his characteristic upbeat manner, brushes that aside.
"You start with this. You start by building relationships of
trust and have an open dialogue," he repeats his mantra.
At this read, there is no proof it won't work but this is
during the honeymoon.
For those who believe in signs, it should be noted that on the
day he laid the foundation for a "new culture" of cooperation in this
town, they also put up the state capitol Christmas tree.
Make of that what you will.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Snyder Makes Decisions

It's Andy Dillon for State Treasurer and barring an 11th hour change
of heart, former Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus will come out of retirement to
join the new Rick Snyder administration as well.
Mr. Snyder has zero legislative experience and apparently realizes
he needs those around him who do.
Posthumus, from West Michigan, has served in the House and was GOP
leader in the senate before joining former Gov. John Engler as his Lt.
Governor. Posthumus also ran for governor in 2002 and lost by
five-points to the woman who has that job now.
Redford's Andy Dillon has four years under his belt and combines
that with outside business acumen which Posthumus also brings to the
Dillon was described earlier as not sure he wanted to continue his
career in Lansing. He will be given the chance to bring in his own team
and when all was said and done he becomes the first Democrat to join
the Snyder squad although some Democrats still question Dillon's party
He rebuffs that calling himself a "true Democrat" at heart.
Posthumus is expected to act as a senior advisor to the new governor
on legislative matters if a source is correct. If appointed he would
help advance Mr. Snyder's legislative agenda and while Posthumus has
the experience doing that, he has no working relationship with most of
the incoming lawmakers. There are 61 freshmen in the house and 29 new
senators, most of whom never served with Mr. Posthumus when he roamed
the legislative halls before.

Snyder May Pick Dillon

If Republican Rick Snyder decides to tap Andy Dillon as the new state
treasurer, Mr. Snyder can probably get away with that, but if he starts
picking "true Blue" Democrats for his new administration, he's looking
for trouble.
It's been reported that Mr. Snyder and the soon-to-be former
Democratic Speaker of the House Mr. Dillon have been talking about the
appointment. They did so right after Mr. Snyder became governor-elect.
Underscore here, it is not a done deal.
At last check Mr. Dillon was "intrigued" by the possibility but was
dead tired of the drive each day from Redford to Lansing. Plus he is a
little burned out on politics having been slapped around by his own
party during his unsuccessful bid for governor last summer.
Nonetheless he fits the profile for the incoming governor i.e. lots
of outside business acumen coupled with some inside Lansing stuff under
his belt, too.
If Mr. Snyder and Mr. Dillon reach an accord, some Republicans may
grumble about picking a Democrat, but Dillon is seen by some as more of
a GOPer than a Democrat, so Mr. Snyder can pull this one off.
However, as suggested in the lead paragraph, if he goes with other
names such as a Lynn Jondahl, or Maxine Berman, former liberal D
legislators, the conservative wing of the GOP will go nuts.
There is already chatter below the radar from some elements that
are not happy that Mr. Snyder has even said he would bring Democrats
into his administration.
"Don't we have enough qualified Republicans to fill all those
spots?" was the question from on GOP insider.
Storm clouds could be on the horizon, if Mr. Snyder goes too far.
We should know about the safer Dillon notion later this week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hi, I'm Virg Bernero

Virg Bernero lost because he pulled a "Blanchard."
Most folks will say it was the lack money. True but it goes deeper
than that.
When incumbent Governor Jim Blanchard took on challenger John
Engler, the Blanchard team was so fixated on "getting" Engler that the
savvy politician Mr. B. lost sight of one important element.
He never really looked the voters in the eyes and said, "Vote for
me because…"
Instead he spent most of his waking moments telling the voters not
to vote for Engler.
Ditto for Bernero.
He and his minions were so intent on bringing Snyder down with the
relentless attacks on his "jobs to China" and "mismanaging Gateway"
that the Lansing Mayor never stepped back and introduced himself to
the voters.
He had a great personal story to tell from his Italian immigrant
father to his impressive and successful career of public service.
Sure, he talked about that stuff but it never connected. Many Democrat
on Election Day were still asking themselves, "Who the heck is Virg
No wonder so many D's stayed home.
It was anti-Snyder all the time just as it was anti-Engler all the
time when Mr. Blanchard ran.
Missing this critical point is someone's fault because it was out
there all the time.
If you talk to voters you will hear many say: "Don't give me a
reason to vote against somebody else, give me a reason to vote for you."
The Snyder squad knew that which is why they basically ignored
Bernero and banged away at who Snyder was and what he would do.
Trace his twenty point victory to that simple little fact.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The Rick Snyder persona remains a work in progress, but clearly
process is being made.
It was revealing to watch his performance on election night as he
basically repeated his stump speech, but this time with a good deal
more passion and more oommpph, too.
That was a far cry from how he performed on that fateful day two
summers ago in front of the state capitol.
Mr. Snyder with family in tow arrived to announce he was running
for governor. His "team" put a dinky little podium in front of the
capitol steps as the GOP outsider for governor launched his far-fetched
and far-out effort to become governor.
The capitol edifice dwarfed him.
There were no cheering crowds, no balloons, no nothing, just he,
his wife and three kids who looked more uncomfortable than he
did..which is saying a lot.
To be generous it was a bit stilted and when you compared him to
the person who was governor, you know the one with all the charisma,
well let's just say it was not a great launch.
He was ill at ease, read the speech that went on an on and when it
was done, you knew this guy didn't have a snow ball's chance of winning
this thing.
Fast forward to election night 2010 and there, center stage, among
lots of balloons, confetti and an adoring and shouting crowd, stood the
governor elect of the state of Michigan.
"Sometimes the rookie wins," Rick Snyder quietly confided in a
hallway hours before he was declared the official winner.
Yep and sometimes the rookie eventually finds his voice, and gets
in touch with his inner self, learns to crack a one-liner here and
there and just figures out he can do this.
Even he knows he is getting better and now he has four years to
keep his mojo growing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winning By One

How many times will someone utter this remark on Election Day, "I'm
not voting cause my vote doesn't count?" Tell that to Mike Rogers, Dan
Benishek, and Al Franken.
The history books are filled with various contests that ended up
being decided by a handful of votes.
In the Upper Peninsula last August a complete political unknown
defeated a seasoned Republican for the Congressional nomination and Dan
Benishek won by one vote. A recount eventually expanded his stunning
upset to 15, but suffice it to say every vote counted.
Taking you back to the election in 2000. By the margin of 121
votes, a guy named Mike Rogers went to Congress while Democrat Dianne
Byrum was left behind to ponder what might have been had those 121
votes gone her way.
And on and on it goes. Al Franken, the Saturday Night Live comic
turned U.S. Senator might still be writing one-liners instead of U.S
Senate speeches had 312 Minnesotans voted for his opponent.
If former Gov. "Soapy" Williams was still with us today, he would
be more than eager to explain how he beat Republican Harry Kelly by a
mere 1,154 votes. Michigan history would have been significantly
different had the outcome gone the other way.
And last but certainly not least, the contest for President between
Al Gore and George W. Bush was decided in a little place called Florida
by 537 votes.
Had it flipped the other way, maybe there is no war in Iraq, maybe
no war in Afghanistan, etc. etc. You get the point.
So we'll have none of this, "My vote doesn't count" stuff today.

(Thank you to the Michigan Liberal folks for doing the
heavy-lifting on recounting those close elections over the years.
Check's in the mail.)

Monday, November 1, 2010


Covering politics can be an illusive game. Because politicians
sometimes like to keep stuff from the public, when you cover a story,
you are never really sure that what you see on the outside is really
the full truth.
Which is way election days are so rewarding. At the end of the
day, you know the story. Count the votes, see who got the most and
report it.
But on the eve of this election, the candidates are more
concerned with turn out because with out that, they will be counting
fewer votes.
This year, the Republicans have clearly been more geeked than
the Democrats about voting and from the President down to Virg Bernero,
that concern is off the charts.
Mr. Obama has been traversing the country, desperately trying to
recapture the "magic" of his presidential campaign two years ago. It
did not appear to be working as all those young and dedicated voters,
who could hardly wait to vote for Mr. Obama, are this time, still young
but not so dedicated. The Democratic fear is, the Republicans will win
everything except maybe dog catcher.
On the state side of things, the Get Out the Vote effort by both
parties continues with phone calls, rally's, and bus tours by the major
The Rick Snyder campaign, which was masterfully run, has only
one fear: His supporters will wake up Tuesday morning and decide they
don't have to vote cause he has the thing locked up.
By the same token, the Virg Bernero folks could do the same
thing based on the supposition that he can not win.
While the polls suggest that contest is over before it begins,
remember what they always say, the polls don't vote, citizens do and
one can still hear Mr. Bernero lecturing everyone, "The only poll that
counts is on Election Day."
He and Mr. Snyder can certainly concur on that.