interesting results in the politics department this year. Out of
approximately 75 questions, the one with the fewest responses was: Who
Michigan pick for governor in 2010?
Judging by the feeble responses, most
Express readers dont seem to have a clue, even though our demographic
studies show that you tend to have a higher level of education than
most in Northern Michigan.
On the other hand, when we asked the question: Whats the best plan
for bringing jobs to Michigan? quite a few people responded that
getting rid of Gov. Jennifer
Granholm would do the trick.
So perhaps theres an element of our readership that is keenly aware
of the goings on in Lansing and why Gov. Granholm is directly
responsible for Michigans job losses... yet still doesnt have much
of a clue as to whos running for office this November -- especially
on the Democrat side of the aisle.
Actually, theres a good reason that most citizens dont know whos
running for governor. As noted by Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau
Christoff in a recent article, the State Campaign Fund has been hit in
recent years, and there is only $2.1 million available for candidates
running in the
Democratic and Republican primaries. Thats chicken feed when it comes
to buying expensive TV advertising.
Christoff notes that in 2007, the Legislature took $7.2 million from
the campaign fund to balance the state budget. Meanwhile, fewer
taxpayers are donating $3 on their state income tax forms.
Candidates are also having a tough time raising campaign funds in this economy.
It was (ostensibly) for this reason that Lt. Gov. John Cherry dropped
out as the front-runner for the Democrats earlier this winter. Cherry
could only raise $1 million and believed he needed double that. Of
course, many felt the real reason he dropped out was because he lacked
the charisma and leadership chops needed to win the hearts of voters.
Following are the candidates in a nutshell, along with my biased viewpoint.
U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Holland) is the top Republican on the
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Hoekstra strikes me as an odd choice for governor and dead wrong for
Michigan, Why? Because his chief attribute -- if you can call it that
-- is that of a complainer.
I read Hoekstras press releases each week, and they are chiefly an
endless litany of complaints and blame directed at the Democrats. In
his news releases, at least, Hoekstra seldom seems to have an original
idea for taking Michigan forward; his shtick is complaining,
blame-gaming and nit-picking every move of the Obama administration or
his counterparts in Congress.
Fair enough for an ideological congressman bottled up in D.C., but how
would that approach help Michigan if he were governor? Weve got
enough gridlock in state government already, not to mention the damage
a highly-partisan governor might have on Michigan‘s relations with the
As an example of what Governor
Hoekstra might do for Michigan, recently,
he led the charge in scuttling the chances of
a prison in Standish being turned into a federal Supermax to house
prisoners from Guantanamo under the fraidy-cat rationale that a
relatively small number of prisoners would prove far too dangerous for
Michigan. Result: a $145 million purchase and tens of millions in
construction contracts, along with scores of jobs, went to a prison in
And what happened in Standish? The prison closed in October, shutting
down Arenac Countys biggest employer. If thats what we could expect
from Hoekstra as governor, someone ought to be making it a campaign
Rick Snyder, the former venture capitalist from Ann Arbor, has come
from behind to earn second place in contending the Republican
primaries. His self-deprecating TV commercials identifying him as one
tough nerd have rocketed him from the back of the pack in name
recognition, but Snyder has also paid his dues in terms of
barnstorming the state for months, visiting voters, newspapers and
Its hard not to like Snyder, a former top executive at Gateway
Computers, who brings an entrepreneurial approach to getting Michigan
back on its feet. And even liberal voters will be happy to learn that
hes supportive of protecting Michigans environment as well as
promoting alternative energy.
A poll by Booth Newspapers shows Michigan Attorney
General Mike Cox in third place in terms of name recognition, followed
by Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard and State Senator Tom
In general, the Republican candidates have a one size fits all
approach to fixing Michigan that seems more of an ideology or wishful
thinking than something that will shoot us over the goal posts: Their
idea is simply to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax in favor of a
lower, less complicated tax. That, and trimming back the benefits of
state workers and teachers.
Fine, lets do it and see if it works. But that approach ignores the
800 lb. gorilla on the table, representing the wreck of the Big 3 auto
companies, which is the true engine of job growth in Michigan. One
doubts that simply eliminating Michigans Single Business Tax alone
will result in a jobs bonanza.
Running for the Democrats:
Andy Dillon is Speaker of the
Michigan House of Representatives. This state rep from Wayne County
has been in the Legislature since 2004. Since he just announced for
the governors race on Feb. 28, we dont have a handle on what
remedies hed have for Michigan. But chances are, voters are looking
for someone whos not part of the status quo this year.
Verg Bernero, mayor of Lansing, has had a well-rounded career,
serving as a county commissioner as well as a state representative and
state senator. He frequently appears as Americas Mayor on The Ed
Show on MSNBC, offering common-sense opinions on how to fix Michigan
and the nation. Hes a forceful speaker with no-nonsense ideas in the
Jesse Ventura mode. Conservatives who like the Ted Nugent approach
would perhaps like Bernero as well.
Bernero also has a heart: hes been a strong advocate for protecting
citizens who have mental health issues. As mayor of Lansing, his
administration claims to have brought $500 million in new investment
to the city.
State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith hails from Ypsilanti. Her website
notes that if she were elected governor, she would seek full access
to health care for each resident, equal education access and
opportunity from preschool to grad school, a safe and clean
environment, vital urban centers, a healthy business sector,
protection for civil rights and civil liberties and full inclusion for
each citizen in Michigans benefits and opportunities.
Good luck, candidates.