Michigan Republicans are doing their best to link Mark Schauer, the state Democratic Party’s candidate for governor, with “The Decade From Hell” and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who some say should bear responsibility for the economic Hades that was the first 10 years of the 21st century.
Democrats, meanwhile, are using a giant, inflatable chair to remind voters of what they see as a sweetheart deal for a furniture company in which Gov. Rick Snyder’s cousin is involved.
It’s no wonder both sides are throwing everything they have into this race between Schauer and Snyder.
Republicans have to be worried and Democrats optimistic. Snyder was supposed to coast to victory in November. Now Real Clear Politics rates the Michigan gubernatorial race as a “toss-up.”
Snyder is still leading in all of the polls, but Schauer is gaining ground.
A Mitchell Research poll released in early August showed Snyder’s favorable-unfavorable rating was 49 percent-40 percent. Schauer was at 35 percent-27 percent, higher than he was in June when it was only 24 percent-22 percent.
In an effort to change that momentum, the Michigan Freedom Fund, a political advocacy organization, has launched a statewide digital advertising campaign highlighting Schauer’s record as a member of Congress and state legislator under Granholm.
The ads inform voters about Schauer’s votes to raise taxes over 140 times, his record of voting 96 percent of the time with President Obama, and his history as what the Battle Creek Enquirer once dubbed “Jennifer Granholm’s lapdog.”
“Whether it was his votes for billions in tax hikes, his vote to create Obamacare or his willingness to violate campaign finance law to get ahead, mainstream Michiganders need to be educated on Mark Schauer’s record,” said Greg McNeilly, the president of the Michigan Freedom Fund.
Democrats can’t argue with this: The Granholm years were bad years in Michigan. But Republicans would argue with that sentence. Those years were not just bad, they would tell you. Those years were the worst since the Great Depression.
Even Granholm wouldn’t fudge on that, and she didn’t.
Labor Day weekend 2010, as her eighth and final year as governor was coming to an end, Granholm told the Associated Press the state had been through the toughest economic period since the Great Depression.
“Time magazine called it the decade from hell,” she said. While the magazine used the phrase to describe the nation as a whole, Granholm said, it’s “certainly” been hell in Michigan.
Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 13.1 percent in July 2010, well above the national rate of 9.5 percent.
It was a terrible time for Michigan. The auto industry collapsed, dragging the rest of the state down with it.
Granholm tried everything to bring new money into the state from a series of “vice tax” increases on cigarettes and booze to carving “Cool Cities” out of the lunch-bucket, blue-collar communities that were Michigan’s gift from the World War II and post-war industrial economy.
None of it worked.
It might seem like political wisdom for Schauer to stay as far away from Granholm as humanely possible, but here’s the kicker.
Granholm got very low marks for her job performance, but people liked her as a person. She could work a crowd like nobody’s business, and when it came to one-on-one time with people in the audience or on the street nobody was better than Granholm.
She was so warm and fuzzy she could melt ice, raise your taxes and make you feel good about it. Snyder, on the other hand, is the tough nerd that nobody hates – well, at least most people don’t hate him, but very few really love him.
So maybe it should not come as a surprise that Schauer is going to share the stage with Granholm — described as his “Lost Decade Mentor” by the Michigan GOP — at a Democratic Governors Association fundraising reception Sept. 20 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
This anything but odd political couple is described as “special guests” in the invitation being passed around by the Michigan Republican Party.
“Schauer is obviously too embarrassed to showcase his Lost Decade donors and beliefs here in Michigan, so he’d rather carry on with his two-faced agenda behind our back, thousands of miles away,” said Bobby Schostak, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. “We’ve been fixing the failures of Schauer and Granholm for the last four years.”
Michigan Democrats are hitting back with the traveling Rick Snyder chair.
Democrats, students and senior citizens went on the road Aug. 20, with a giant, inflatable chair, telling Snyder to “stop wasting millions of dollars on fancy lounges, cushy chairs and other unneeded state office furniture and instead fund schools and repeal the Snyder retiree tax,” according to a Michigan Democratic Party press release.
Democrats have been hammering away at this issue in Michigan: a $41 million state contract benefitting Snyder’s cousin’s furniture business amid new disclosures that the state is spending tens of thousands of dollars to buy new furniture for legislators and to outfit lounges for a top Snyder administrator and other administration officials.
Party officials said the inflatable chair symbolizes the $41 million spent on state office furniture.
“The governor’s cousin’s $41 million contract, new chairs for legislators and upgrading lounges for top Snyder officials should not be a priority over Michigan’s seniors and students,” said Lon Johnson, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. “We don’t think so and today we are taking that message to citizens across Michigan.”