Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 12, 2014

Jack Lessenberry: Gov. Rick Snyder re-election possible

History would seem to indicate Gov. Rick Snyder should have a fairly easy romp to re-election this fall.

For one thing, no Michigan governor has failed to win a second term since the current state constitution was adopted more than half a century ago. For another, history also suggests that this should be a good year for the governor’s Republican Party.

This will be the second “off-year” election since President Obama took office. He is, of course, a Democrat, and incumbent presidents normally see their parties lose badly in their sixth year.

But precedents are made to be broken - and this governor has taken some steps and made some blunders that seem certain to hurt him at the polls. The only question is: How much?

Though the administration stubbornly refuses to admit it, the governor made a howling public relations blunder last month when several hundred thousand residents lost power at Christmas.

Other governors might have appeared on TV, shown up at warming centers, called for more crews to be brought in from other states. Snyder did none of that. Spokesmen refused for “security reasons” during the crisis to say where he was or if he had lost power. (Later, they said the governor, a computer business millionaire, had gone to one of his homes, north of Kalamazoo, and that he had in fact been without power for a couple days.)

Last week, after I discussed this in this column, Dave Murray, a spokesman, called and wrote me to say he was surprised by comments that the governor was invisible during the storm. “He put out a couple of press releases,” he said.

That may be so, but it isn’t likely that they had the impact the governor’s appearance in person and on TV, might have had.

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