No campaign reprieve in Michigan
Well that didn’t take long.
That collective sigh of relief you heard around the state on Nov. 9 was worn out voters eager to put the election behind them and get back to a normal life minus the Donald and the Hill.
The delightful pause lasted a grand total of 54 days because on Monday, Jan. 2, before the dust had even settled on all the football games, the race for governor in Michigan commenced.
There was Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette breaking through on a traditionally slow news day with a “shocking” announcement that he gave to the Associated Press. “I want to be part of the conversation” about governor he boldly announced coming up just short of saying he was actually running.
Assuming you were not nursing a New Year’s hangover, and assuming you paid any attention to that at all, it was no surprise because lots of folks knew he would run and has been quietly laying the groundwork for years.
But he was first out of the gate only to be followed by something a tad more definitive the very next day.
Following the lead of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who announced her candidacy on Facebook — how’d that work out? — the former Democratic leader of the Michigan Senate, not to be outdone by possible rival Mr. Schuette, announced she was filing to run for governor. No exploratory committee. No hemming and hawing about whether she would or not, she just bluntly told everybody, “I’m in!”
And with that, 55 days after the voters thought they were finished with elections for a while, they found themselves smack dab in the middle of the 2018 contest to replace Gov. Rick Snyder.
Mr. Snyder put it nicely the other day when quizzed about this early attention to the next race.
He kindly rejected it as part of the “Lansing bubble” and “I don’t think most people in Michigan have that on their mind at this point.”
Yet here they are and you must be asking, “why so early?”
Two answers: Money and name ID.
As the sitting A.G. Mr. Schuette has gobbled up tons of media coverage over the years and is doing so even as we speak regarding his one year old criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis. Fourteen folks have been charged with wrongdoing.
Ms. Whitmer, whose name ID ain’t (sic) so hot, is not impressed. In fact she was downright ornery about the A.G’s conduct in one of her first TV interviews on her candidacy.
Asked if taxpayers were getting their money’s worth out of the $3 million Schuette investigation, she was blunt, “The simple answer is no.”
Asked if Mr. Schuette was merely using the probe to feather his own political nest in a bid for higher office, she was blunt again, “There is a strong case to be made for that, absolutely.”
Asked what she would tell Mr. Schuette if he was sitting across from her, she did not flinch, “You failed. You’re one of the failed leaders I’m talking about … the facts are the facts.”
Not one to ignore any political attack, one of the A.G.’s political handlers fired off a terse one paragraph response basically suggesting that Mr. Schuette was busy doing the people’s business and “any fool can start a fight.” Of course he did not use Ms. Whitmer’s name in that regard, but everyone got the point.
But wait there is more, as they say on the TV commercials.
State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Plymouth) got into the act announcing that he is “seriously considering” a bid to be the most conservative guy in the GOP field. He dismissed Mr. Schuette and possible candidate Lt. Gov. Brain Calley as being from the “John Kasich” side of the party, i.e. more moderate. Mr. Colbeck wants none of that as he backed failed candidate Ted Cruz for president.
For his part Mr. Snyder said his pal Mr. Calley would be a great governor but when asked if he was greater than all the rest, the governor punted saying that was just more “speculation” that he would stay out of.
Funny thing. It was a chance for him to totally embrace Mr. Calley if he decides to get in, but he did not.
As for the meaning of that?
Darn good question.