Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is pulling back on expectations he will become one more Republican running for president, as he faces what the polls say will be a losing effort to get voters to raise their state’s sales tax to the second highest in the nation.
On top of that, the Republican-dominated Michigan Legislature is giving him a new problem: a move to go where Indiana has gone before with a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That’s right, basically the same proposal that some political observers say wrecked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) White House bid.
And then there are Detroit public school teachers who accuse Snyder of planning to destroy public education in their city.
When you compare him to someone with the decades of political experience former Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has, Snyder is still a political neophyte. He is former businessman and venture capitalist who branded himself as “One Tough Nerd” when he won the Michigan GOP gubernatorial primary in his first election bid and carried on with that theme in his successful re-election campaign.
Despite the turmoil that has picked up to at least the intensity of an F-3 twister, Snyder has stuck by his “relentless positive agenda” throughout his campaigns and his time in office.
But he has been challenged most recently to stay upbeat as an EPIC-MRA poll released in late March showed 66 percent of Michigan’s likely voters plan to just say “no” when they decide the fate of a tax increase plan on May 5.
Proposal 1 would raise the state’s sales tax by one cent and is expected to generate $1.25 billion a year to fix Michigan’s roads, along with another $600 million annually that would go to schools, cities, mass transit and the general fund.
Proponents have been telling voters they have no choice but to pass the tax plan.
Opponents accuse the Michigan Legislature of kicking the proverbial can down the state’s crumbling roads after failing to pass a transportation tax hike plan of its own last year.
Four groups are fighting separately against Proposal 1. They are poor dirt-scratching chicken farmers compared to those trying to convince voters to vote “yes.”
Proposal 1 supporters have raised 40 times as much money as those opposed to the constitutional amendment that will be on the May 5 ballot.
However, opponents have much more of something than proponents: emotion.
They also have the man who was key figure in Snyder’s two gubernatorial campaigns, John Yob. He’s leading one of the groups campaigning against Proposal 1.
“Snyder will go down in history as the best governor Michigan has ever had,” Yob told the Detroit News. “I think people can have differences of opinion on issues that are important to them.”
And then there is the coming fight over Sen. Mike Shirkey’s (R) proposal for a Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Snyder has promised to veto it, unless a nondiscrimination amendment is tacked on to the legislation, just like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wanted. And look what it did for him.
A Michigan Senate hearing on the RFRA was held the same day arguments for and against Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages were heard by the Supreme Court. So, that’s on Snyder’s agenda, too.
Snyder’s been given a lot of credit for steering Detroit through the biggest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history. But a recent Associated Press story pointed out that more than 40 percent of the city’s residents are too poor to afford a car in the Motor City.
Those lucky enough to find minimum wage jobs in the suburbs are faced with a two-hour round trip bus ride to work, because there are far too few jobs in Detroit.
The Detroit Federation of Teachers staged protests in the last week of April against Snyder’s plans for the Detroit public schools, which include an expansion of charter schools, and breaking up the Detroit public school system into two separate entities.
Wait. There’s more.
The frosting on top of Snyder’s cake in April came from national reporters who were buzzing around Snyder asking if and when he will run for the White House.
How tough it must be to remain relentlessly positive with all of this spinning around him.
Tough, but not impossible. After all, Rick Snyder is One Tough Nerd.
When pressed during an interview on Bloomberg TV, he declined, politely of course, to discuss a timetable for a possible presidential bid. But he admitted “it is something I am watching.”
Snyder also refused to take an opportunity offered by two Bloomberg TV show hosts to attack any of his possible GOP primary opponents.
But he did give America a dose of his philosophy.
”Our political culture is broken. Think about this — would we accept the behaviors we see in the political world, the fighting and the blaming — in our families? No,” Snyder said.
“I think we deserve the same civility, respect, and results that you see in your family in the political world.”