Schauer’s Credible Credibility Issue Dominates Tortoise vs. Tortoise race in Michigan

Mark Schauer, the Democrat trying to unseat Mich. Gov. Rick “One Tough Nerd” Snyder, has a credibility problem in the eyes of Sandy Baruah, the chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“He (Mark Schauer) has no substance. He is making stuff up and has no value,” Baruah told longtime Michigan political reporter Tim Skubick in an interview for his MiLive column.

Those two sentences might not seem like much in many races, but in Michigan’s gubernatorial contest between the tortoise and the tortoise — a Republican who describes himself as a Tough Nerd and a Democrat who could spend a day shopping at the mall without being recognized —they rang as loudly as the Marine Corps DI waking up recruits in the movie Full Metal Jacket.

Still, there are more than three months to go before the first Tuesday in November, and a recent voter survey from Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Schauer’s name recognition and voter favorability ratings are improving.

The PPP survey released July 1 also shows Schauer has pulled into a tie with Snyder.

Credibility might not be as much as a problem for the former congressman from Battle Creek, Mich., as discoverability.

Schauer continues to be relatively unknown to nearly half of voters in the state. Forty-nine percent have no opinion about him, according to the PPP survey. Those who do have an opinion are pretty closely split. Twenty-seven percent see Schauer favorably, but 24 percent don’t like the Democrat.

Yet, the undecided voters don't like Snyder even more, giving him a 16/68 approval rating. But they don't like President Obama either, rating him at 30/59.

Overall, Michigan doesn’t care for Obama. Even though he won the 2008 and 2012 elections in the Wolverine State, voters have grown weary of him and it doesn’t seem that Schauer will be able to ride his coattails in November as a member of the Class of 2014.

The PPP survey, and remember PPP leans Democratic, shows only 43 percent of Michigan voters approve of the job Obama's doing, compared to the 52 percent who disapprove.

But the Snyder camp is not resting easy. Through the voices of surrogates like Baruah and Bobby Schostak, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, the Snyder campaign is hitting the credibility issue, while Snyder does what Snyder supporters say the tough nerd does best -- run the state of Michigan.

“Mark Schauer Reaches Another Milestone” was the headline of a July 2 press release from the Michigan GOP claiming the “milestone” was reaching “400 days without a plan for Michigan.”

“After 400 days, Mark Schauer still refuses to offer a plan to Michigan families,” said Schostak. “What’s equally disturbing is his refusal to engage in any type of constructive dialogue given his 17 years as a career politician.”

The Michigan GOP even chided Schauer for failing to make an appearance at the iconic National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Mich., while noting the state’s seven percent increase in leisure and hospitality jobs and “increased agricultural funding each year of his first term.”

Schauer has not had anything to say about Snyder’s support of agriculture but he has blasted the Republican for state school aid cuts. Schauer called the state’s education budget that was approved by the Michigan Legislature June 10 “an insult to Michigan students and families.”

“The numbers in this budget simply don’t add up. Most schools will get about 29 cents more per pupil, per school day. At the current rate of inflation, this means districts will actually get less in next year’s budget than they did this year, which will likely result in more teacher layoffs and larger class sizes,” Schauer said.

“We need a governor with the right priorities,” he continued. “Rick Snyder gave huge pay raises to his top cronies, a no-bid contract to his cousin’s furniture business, and a tax break for big oil companies. That’s no way to build a strong economy.”

Schauer has been throwing one piece of spaghetti after another at the wall, only to watch each slide to the floor.

He has blamed Snyder for everything that has gone wrong in Michigan from historically bad roads to rotten, maggot-infested food in one of the state’s prisons.

“Governor Snyder’s decision to outsource prison food service has proven to be a serious mistake that is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and putting the lives of our corrections officers at risk,” said Schauer in a statement issued by his campaign after Michigan prison officials admitted finding fly larvae and maggots in a prison cafeteria serving line.

However, maggots aside, neither Snyder nor Schauer has been campaigning aggressively. Snyder has the money, but he doesn’t need to go on the offensive. Schauer wishes he had the money, but has the Democratic Governors Association to do the political advertising work for him.

Both candidates have been making their cases to the public through press releases and campaign appearances.

Public Policy Polling released a survey July 1 that showed Schauer had pulled into a 40-40 point tie in this tortoise versus tortoise race.

Snyder had led 43/39 in April and 44/40 in December, in previous PPP polls.

However, as optimistic as the Schauer camp is reading the PPP survey,  the Real Clear Politics aggregate poll shows Snyder with a 6 point lead, even taking into account the PPP survey.

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)