PJ Media

A Split in Michigan: GOP Governor Keeps Seat, Dem Picks Up Levin's Senate Seat

Michigan’s Republican governor, after winning re-election by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin, deflected a question less than 12 hours after the polls closed about whether he might be running for president.

“I’m just excited to be re-elected governor,” Snyder said on the MSNBC program Morning Joe. “But I know the nation is looking for leadership and I think people will be looking at the nation’s Republican governors across the country.”

Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R-Mich) victory over Democrat Mark Schauer was as resounding as was Republican Terri Lynn Land’s defeat in her U.S. Senate race against Gary Peters.

The third-term congressman from suburban Detroit beat Land, a former Michigan secretary of state, 55 percent to 41 percent.

“Tonight’s loss in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race is a disappointing reality for everyone who wanted see this open seat turn red. Michigan families are tired of Harry Reid’s liberal, do-nothing Senate, and Terri Lynn Land would have made a great senator to fix the mess in Washington,” said Bobby Schostak, the chairman of the Michigan GOP.

Snyder said the morning after his re-election that he had two top priorities: fixing Michigan’s roads and putting more Michiganders back to work.

That sounded good to Rob Fowler, the president and chief executive officer of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

“Much more work remains to be done to foster an economic climate that celebrates entrepreneurship and small-business job growth, and the voters of Michigan have shown that they have confidence in Gov. Snyder to address this challenge,” said Fowler.

Snyder pointed to the continuing “reinvention of Michigan” during his interview on Morning Joe, and said Michigan Republicans increased their majorities in both the state House and Senate in the Nov. 4 election.

Michigan Democrats identified more than 900,000 of their party faithful who sat out the 2010 election instead of voting. Lon Johnson, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, vowed to convince at least 200,000 of them to vote in the 2014 election and said that would be the margin of victory.

Michigan Republican Party officials also promised to increase voter turnout through the use of new technology and strategy.

Which party did a better job of that has yet to be determined. Final voter numbers by party registration are not yet available. But 1.59 million people cast a ballot for Snyder, while 1.47 million did the same for Schauer.

Snyder had promised to run a campaign devoid of negative attack ads, although outside money certainly crossed that line.

At the end of Tuesday night, Snyder said in his victory speech that approach had worked just as it had during his first term as governor.

“The answer is to be positive and solve problems. To move forward,” Snyder said.

He and Schauer are as different as two political candidates could be. Snyder is a former venture capitalist who served for two years as chairman of the board of Gateway Inc., the onetime computer giant.

Schauer is a Democrat who was pepper-sprayed during a protest against right-to-work legislation that Republicans and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce were pushing through the Michigan Legislature.

The former congressman and state legislator told his supporters that while accepting defeat, he would not give up his ideals.

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still leaves and the dream shall never die,” said Schauer in his concession speech, quoting late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

The Snyder-Schauer race went down to the wire. Most polls in the last month of the campaign showed Snyder in the lead, but always within a margin of error.

The vote at the end of Election Day didn’t work out to be that close.

The Land-Peters contest to replace Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) after the living legend retires from the upper chamber was supposed to be a very tight race, but never was.

Land self-destructed during a convention of Republicans on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, broadcast  the “Really?” TV ad that was ridiculed by political analysts nationwide, and never seemed to find her campaign footing or develop an understanding of key national issues.

Land regained some of her campaign traction late in the campaign when she responded forcefully to Democrats who questioned her for stating repeatedly in a radio interview that she was a mother who had raised children.

But it was not enough.

Even though he spent 22 years in the financial world as an assistant vice president for Merrill Lynch and as a vice president for Paine Webber, Peters was able to paint himself as just an average, middle-class guy who battle the same problems as most Michigan voters.

In the Peters campaign ad “Frugal,” his family told of a washing machine that needed to be replaced and a sweatshirt that should have been thrown out years ago.

Outside money paid for a deluge of ads that flooded Michigan TVs, laptops, tablets and radios.

Land and Peters were accused of ruining the lives of Michiganders, of polluting the environment and of not being honest about their backgrounds and finances.

In the end, Michigan voters split their tickets. Even though Snyder won re-election by a healthy margin, Peters won his first term in the Senate by an even larger margin.

Close to 1.7 million people voted for Peters, while nearly 1.3 million did the same for Land.

Just as Schauer vowed to stick to his principles in his concession speech, Peters told his supporters in his victory speech he would focus on issues such as equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, funding education and climate change.

“Tonight’s victory was the end of a long campaign, crisscrossing the state meeting with small-business owners and middle-class families, listening to the ideas and concerns of Michiganders from all corners of the state,” Peters said.

“Now the real work begins — helping Michigan’s economy grow, protecting our Great Lakes and ensuring that everyone has the access to the healthcare they deserve.”