Seeds laid for Whitmer-Trump tests
Rick Snyder never got there. Gretchen Whitmer is hoping she will.
Gov. Snyder and President Donald Trump did not share much common ground. The president can be bombastic and is fearless when it comes to blasting those he doesnt not like. During his eight years as governor, nobody ever used the words “bombastic” or “blasting” to describe Mr. Snyder’s demeanor.
So, when it came to developing a mutually beneficial relationship, the twain would never really meet.
Now comes Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer. She’s up-front and concedes she and the president “see the world very differently (and) don’t agree on many issues,” but there she was the other day, sitting at the big kids’ table with none other than the president himself.
“I’m governor elect Gretchen Whitmer from Michigan, the Great Lakes state, and I’m looking forward to working with you,” she looked him in the eyes.
He looked back, smiled and affirmed that there would be a good relationship.
Talk is cheap, at this point, but at least he didn’t say, “Aren’t you the one who beat my buddy, Bill Schuette?”
The fact of the mater is, he and she need each other as she moves into year-one of her tenure and he looks toward 2020 to continue his.
Unlike Mr.Schuette, who told voters he would “walk in the front door of the White House and get federal money for the roads,” she can’t say the same thing about access. But, eventually, she will need the president to cough up those federal road dollars.
Recall that, even though she will ask the GOP Legislature to step up and approve more road revenue, the betting money is, Republicans will say no, and she’ll have no other choice but to go with hat in hand to Mr. Trump for help on her on Plan B.
The president told her and other newbie governors that he’ll hatch a multi-million dollar infrastructure package to address road needs, but chances are, her being a Democrat and all, she will not be at the top of the list. All she can hope for is she will be on the list.
Consequently, you won’t hear her beefing about that right now, because it would be premature, it would be bad form as she lays the groundwork for a “strong relationship.” And she does not want to give him an excuse to attack her, leaving her to find some other way to fix the roads, short of robbing a bank.
The one ace she has is that, assuming he’s around to run in 2020, he would like to add to his 10,000-vote win in Michigan. And, if he stiffs her on roads, she can use her bully pulpit to remind voters, in the midst of a presidential election, that he had a chance to help and he did not.
State Democrats may pressure her not to wait for the election year to blast Mr.Trump to soften him up. But it’s likely she is savvy enough to know that, while that might feel good and please her base, she is now governor and not a candidate. She needs to fulfill her campaign promises and any unnecessary confrontation with the sitting president might be counterproductive.
So the seeds for a mutually beneficial Trump-Whitmer relationship are on the top of the ground, where they can be blown away by foul political winds or they can sink into the ground and produce fruit for both to enjoy.
But nobody in this town right now is willing to bet that the mercurial president and the first-term Democratic governor can garden together for the next two years.