Were now barely two weeks away from the gubernatorial primary
election. So, lets review.
The Republican race is down to three, maybe four, legitimate
candidates. As this is being written, Attorney General Mike Cox and
Congressman Peter Hoekstra are in what amounts to a statistical dead
heat. Businessman Rick Snyder is a very close third and Oakland
County Sheriff Mike Bouchard trails.
On the Democrat side, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon leads Lansing
Mayor Virg Bernero by double digits but a staggering 4 out of 10
Democratic voters are still undecided.
Cox has been bombarding the local airwaves. As you might have heard,
hes tough enough to lead Michigan. Snyder, who you might have heard
is one tough nerd, can also be seen with some frequency displacing the
usual barrage of furniture store ads. Hoekstra has just started
advertising up here but he has plenty of money so we should be seeing
plenty of his 30 second black and white lectures. Bouchards
commercials have just started appearing on local television.
The Republican candidates have a certain sameness about them. Cox is
going to cut taxes, shrink government and grow jobs. Hoekstra is
going to cut taxes, shrink government and grow jobs. Snyder is going
to cut taxes, shrink government and grow jobs. Bouchard is going to
cut taxes, shrink government and grow jobs.
Coxs latest commercial blitz, which includes enough quick cuts to
induce seizures, makes the bold claim that he will cut spending by $4
billion. Snyder says hes going to run the state like a business.
Hoekstra... well, he likes to point his finger and tell us to write
down what he says.
Dillon and Bernero are concentrating most of their efforts in
Democratic vote-rich southeastern Michigan though somebody is now
running pro-Bernero anti-Dillon spots on the local airwaves. Bernero
continues to be the most compelling of all candidates because he seems
perpetually on the verge of some kind of explosion. That would be
There is no way to tell what the hell these guys are talking about
from their paid media spots. There never is. So I took a bold step
and went to their web sites. And actually read them. Much as Id
like to suggest we all become better informed about every candidate at
every level I cant, in good conscience, recommend reading these web
sites. They are ponderously long and full of the kind of rhetoric
that will make you woozy and then give you a headache.
Coxs site is especially disappointing, full of punctuation, grammar
and syntax errors of the sort that would require any self-respecting
teacher to demand a parent-teacher conference had a student made
similar mistakes. State employees will discover, much to their
chagrin, that Cox might or might not be tough enough to lead Michigan
but he is definitely tough on them. Much of his budget-cutting plans
fall on the backs of state workers (he wants fewer of them), including
teachers. Hed also like to cut their salaries, reduce their benefits
and turn their pensions into a 401K crap shoot. Presumably, there are
Republican voters among state workers and teachers who will not be
Hoeskstras site makes all kinds of claims about how he will turn
Michigan around as governor. Not surprisingly, it does not mention he
was unable to do that at the national level as a member of Congress,
including when the Republicans held a majority. Oh, well.
Rick Snyder is certainly the most interesting of the Republicans.
A successful businessman, his rhetoric lacks much of the usual BS
career politicians are so good at. His site, refreshingly, ignores
the social issues usually important but divisive to Republican voters.
His notion of running Michigan like a business is appealing until one
realizes government is not a business and cannot be run like one. His
site does not mention if hell attempt to eventually sell Michigan to
Taiwan-based computer giant Acer, as he did Gateway.
Alas, the Democrats sites are no more interesting or encouraging.
Andy Dillons is interminably long; literally a book. His philosophy
seems to be there is no issue that isnt worth talking to death.
Criminals would be discouraged from committing additional offenses if
they knew part of their sentence was going to be to read this thing.
Did I mention its long?
Virg Bernero is mercifully brief by comparison but the tone is
generally the same. There will be some budget cutting, some
consolidating, some eliminating waste, some of the always popular job
growing and some improving education.
Heres the problem: none of them have the power to do much of
anything they claim they can do. The governor can establish a mood
and set some goals but they dont write or pass legislation and they
cant enact their favored programs by executive fiat.
For all the bluster there isnt much to choose from on either side.
Weve got plenty of cutting and shrinking and toughness, but very
little smartness. What we need is someone capable of making the
legislature work together, get something accomplished and instill some
much needed confidence in the people. And clearly understand that
this is our government and our future theyre talking about.