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The week Governor Snyder got aggressive

 “I would like to clear-up the biggest piece of hogwash on TV today.”

That quote was from Governor Rick Snyder at his first campaign town hall this week, pushing back on claims that his administration cut one billion dollars from the state’s education budget.

“They’re lying to you,” the governor told the town-hall audience on Tuesday evening in Kalamazoo.

And, it’s not just the governor, GOP officials and lawmakers have also released statement after statement calling the billion dollar cut a lie, as well as demanding TV stations pull the ad from rotation.

Get aggressive

But, interestingly enough, prominent GOP messengers are not just calling out Democrats for “lies,” they’re also calling out the way fellow-Republican Governor Snyder is campaigning.

GOP activists, lawmakers and, at least, one columnist are all concerned that Snyder’s laid-back style is, well, just a little too laid back; particularly, as his Democratic opponent Mark Schauer gains in the polls.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen what seems to be an almost-orchestrated message by the establishment-GOP, designed to bust through the circle of happy talkers who typically surround a governor.

They want the governor to get tough. To get aggressive.

A magic number

These Republican Cassandras are not just concerned about the polls that show the race between Snyder and Schauer getting close. They are also concerned about a magic number: 55.

See, Republican planners don’t just want Snyder to win, they want him to win by 55 percent or more.

That’s if he’s going to be able to help Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land win, and other legislative candidates in close races.

Can I ride your coattails?

There’s a lot of debate in political circles about whether political coattails (the phenomenon of one candidate pulling others along to ballot victories) still exist. In fact, we’ve seen plenty of evidence that popular politicians don’t really pass off their shine onto other politicians.

But get-out-the-vote efforts conducted by any campaign can often help other candidates of the same political party; especially in a low-turnout election where more voters tend to be party-line voters (which, as we’ve talked about before on It’s Just Politics is what we are likely to see this November).

No more Mr. Nice Guy

Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer both have political responsibilities to the parties that nominated them. So this week, the message from Republicans to Rick Snyder was: you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

If Snyder were to lose on election day, or win a very close race that failed to draw out enough Republicans to help those other GOP candidates, he’d be held responsible by party players.

But, that’s put the governor in a slightly awkward position because Rick Snyder has always tried to run as a kind of anti-politician, someone who doesn’t put political math into equation (which, of course has never been true).

Rick Snyder is a former business CEO who, first of all, understands the importance of marketing, which is what a political campaign is about.  And, second, he understands you don’t get to govern if you don’t win elections.

Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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