Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 14, 2010

11:30 pm: Candidates vary in Tea Party ties

LANSING (AP) -- As the Tea Party Express made its way across Michigan, hardly an event took place without a Republican gubernatorial candidate -- or several -- getting in a word.

Attorney General Mike Cox energized the crowds at six out of the 10 stops last week with his vow to fight the new federal health care changes. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and state Sen. Tom George addressed a tea party rally in Macomb County's Clinton Township on the need to lower taxes, and some spoke at earlier stops.

Yet not all the candidates are cozying up to the tea partiers.

As the tour made its way from the Upper Peninsula to the Detroit suburbs, former Gateway CEO Rick Snyder was absent. The Ann Arbor venture capitalist is not expected to attend any of Thursday's Tax Day protests around the state, including one that's expected to draw thousands to the Capitol lawn.

Campaign spokesman Jake Suski said Wednesday that Snyder was out of town part of last week and isn't out of sync with the tea partiers or trying to avoid them.

"While he hasn't been formally involved, a lot of the motivations that drive people to get engaged in these grass-roots organizations are motivations he shares," Suski said. "He's been focusing on his Reinvent Michigan tour, and he absolutely will consider and plans to attend tea party events in the future."

Grassroots in Michigan leader Joan Fabiano, who traveled on the Tea Party Express bus and will be at Thursday's Capitol rally, said it was "unfortunate" Snyder couldn't address one of the events last week. She said he's passing up an opportunity to engage more voters by missing the rallies.

"He's rather new to politics and it's a chance for some name recognition and for people to have an opportunity to get to know him," she said.

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