×

The curse for lieutenant governors

“No kid ever grows up wanting to be lt. governor.” Those are the immortal words of former Lt. Gov. Jim Brickley who labored for eight years with Gov. William Milliken with the clear expectation that the governor would wonderfully pass the torch to his old pal. What Mr. Brickley should have said was, “most kids who grow up to be lieutenant governor never become governor.”

The Michigan political landscape is strewn with others who prove the point.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry was heir apparent to the throne after Gov. Jennifer Granholm. He dropped out before the voters could reject him.

Former Gov. John Engler groomed his college buddy Dick Posthumus to segue from lieutenant governor to the top spot. “If I had had two more weeks and a million dollars, I would have won,” lamented Mr. Posthumus. And if the dog had not stopped to relieve himself, he would have caught the rabbit.

Now comes the current lieutenant governor Brian Calley staring this political history in the face.

He’s running for governor with the formal launch set for May 30.

Will he succeed where the other three have failed?

The past suggests it will be tough.

Each modern day lieutenant governor ran as an unknown at the get go. The boss got all the publicity while the second in command did a lot of the grunt work to advance the boss’ agenda away from the camera’s glare.

This is actually good and bad. Since their name ID is low they have a chance to craft their image with the electorate. But that takes a ton of advertising dollars and an extended period of time to first, get the citizen’s attention and then get them to believe what you are selling.

And none of this is done in a vacuum. At the same time, the opposition will remind the public that this lt. governor was inextricably linked to the performance of the governor and applying the guilt by association theory, the l.g. has to overcome all those “sins” not to mention the electorate’s desire for change.

After 14 years of Mr. Milliken, 12 years of Mr. Engler, and eight years of Ms. Granholm,the voters felt it was time for a change and don’t fool yourself, Mr. Snyder fatigue is alive and well and bodes poorly for Mr. Calley.

He’s been building his own image one gig at a time. The front office has given him lots of exposure at this group meeting and that over the last two years as he builds for his own bid. It helps to meet and greet but at the end of the day if he has “touched” thousands of voter, it’s not the millions he will need to win.

His first ad campaign of $500,000 sounds like a lot but it’s a drop in a very deep budget and it’s on the Internet where most of the persons who troll there are not clicking on a Brian Calley commercial.

His opening message is that he has gotten a lot of things done and he didn’t have to shout at people to do it.

But didn’t Donald Trump win by shouting at lots of persons including the media, women, the disabled and on and on and on?

Is the 2018 voting population ready for a kinder and gentler Brian Calley?

In a private meeting with a seasoned GOP operative, Mr. Calley was asked how he would beat Bill Schuette who has name ID, already has an image honed over the last three decades and is the presumed GOP front-runner?

Mr. Calley suggested he would use an email base of 500,000 folks who work with him on providing services to the disabled including those with autism and the like. He has performed well in this arena but this operative who heard the answer, rolled his eyes as if to say, that might not get the job done.

But it is a place to start and the race is in 2018 so there is plenty of time for Mr. Calley to work his message and potentially overcome the well established “curse of the lieutenant governor.”