In the race for governor, Michigan voters have a difficult choice - an incumbent with too much baggage or a former national and state lawmaker who has not articulated a coherent agenda.

We find too little to merit an endorsement of either Republican Gov. Rick Snyder or his Democratic rival, former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer.

Snyder emerged on the Michigan political scene four years ago as an "outsider" who touted his experience as chairman of computer giant Gateway, Inc., as a venture capitalist and as a certified public accountant. He embraced the nickname "one tough nerd" and encouraged the idea that he wasn't a politician. That resonated with many voters. 

But his actions have put him squarely in the political arena. Though he promised voters that right to work legislation wasn't "on his radar," he immediately signed right to work bills that had been shamefully rammed through a lame-duck Legislature in a single day with no hearings and zero public input. It was a dark day for democracy in Michigan.

Snyder oversaw a $1 billion tax break for businesses, much of it at the expense of new taxes on retiree pensions. He failed to convince Republican lawmakers to make any meaningful headway in fixing Michigan's crumbling roads, his No. 1 agenda item. 

While the state economy is slowly recovering, it is due almost entirely to the resurgence of the auto industry. The wave of promised new jobs from Snyder's tax cuts and right to work legislation have not materialized.

Snyder did push Michigan to embrace the Affordable Care Act and has fought for a second Detroit River bridge; but he has not been the independent voice he promised to be. 

Schauer has done little more than attack Snyder and has not created much of a coherent agenda of his own. Voters need more than that to choose a new chief executive.

Voters may consider that a Snyder defeat would break the stranglehold the Republican Party has on Michigan government - it controls the state House, Senate and Governor's office - which has led to much bad policy and the trampling of alternate viewpoints. That was bad for Michigan when Democrats ruled Lansing and it's bad for Michigan now.

 

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