In his quest to unseat Gov. Rick Snyder, Democrat Mark Schauer of Battle Creek has made early northern campaign swings in both peninsulas, including stops below the bridge last weekend.
Shortly after announcing in May, the former congressman and state House and Senate lawmaker made five campaign stops in the Upper Peninsula, where his wife, Christine, was raised in Negaunee as daughter of a miner, and five stops in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.
Last week, the former state Senate minority leader also made Friday and Saturday stops in Traverse City and Leland. Tickets to his Friday evening fundraiser at the Traverse City Golf and Country Club ranged from $250 to $1,000.
Among points Schauer, 51, made during our chat over his car phone:
n Medicaid: He criticized Snyder for failure to win immediate effect of the GOP-ruled Senate vote to provide health insurance to many thousands of low-income residents. “This would have been unthinkable under (GOP Gov. John) Engler.”
He also ridiculed the GOP-sponsored legislation pending in the Legislature to name the ceremonial Governor’s Office in the Capitol after Engler, arguing, appropriately, that such an office should not have a tag of either party.
n Great Lakes: He said Snyder needs to be more assertive on lakes issues and the federal government “has to be more aggressive” in spending for its programs. He complimented the current Michigan congressional delegation, including Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, for cooperative efforts on Great Lakes issues.
n Education: He lamented the acceleration of charter schools managed by for-profit corporations that he says are “part of a broader corporate take over of public education in Michigan that is wrong for our kids, for our communities and for taxpayers.” Essentially, he contends, children have dollar signs “on their foreheads.”
In a commentary in the Detroit Free Press, he wrote: “We need a new direction when it comes to improving our schools. The combination of slashing $1 billion from education to help pay for a $1.8 billion corporate tax cut — along with the proliferation of unaccountable, for-profit schools — is the wrong approach. It’s no wonder that one in 10 of our school districts are in deficit, with more to come.”
Snyder’s China Pitch
Snyder is not the first Michigan governor to lead a delegation to China but his three trips are the most frequent and his most recent visit included not only a pitch for auto and other business ties but also a speech delivered at a Pure Michigan Tourism Forum.
Michigan is wise to seek Chinese visitors. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1.5 million Chinese visited the United States last year, a whopping increase of 35 percent from 2011.
Of his Asian trip, Snyder said: “Michigan continues to
build strong partnerships with China and Japan, creating trade and business opportunities.” He vows to “work to open more doors to new markets in China for business from across our state, while continuing to make the case that Michigan provides the most strategic location in North America for Chinese and Japanese companies to expand.”
According to his Lansing office, on Friday in the Chinese city of Chongqing (at 29 million the nation’s third largest city), Snyder met with executives from the Chinese parent company of Menominee-based Enstrom Helicopters as well as government officials, “making the case that Michigan offers tremendous opportunities for Chinese companies looking to make foreign investments and expand globally.”
George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journal Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan column is syndicated by Superior Features.