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Here’s what you need to know about the ‘Rick Snyder for President’ speculation

Speculation continuesthat Governor Rick Snyder is eyeing a run for the White House.

Just last week, former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman fanned the flames by telling reporters that he met with Snyder in California and that, “he’s running.”

 Continuing to fuel the rumors himself, Snyder won’t outright deny a possible run but, instead, responds with answers like, “I don’t want to feed the speculation.” But, then, he continues, “quite often people should be looking to the governors as a great candidate pool generally because there’s been a lot of good governors across the country doing progressive things while Washington continues to be a mess.”

So, not moi, necessarily, but maybe someone an awful lot like moi.

And, it’s not just Michigan paying attention. Snyder has now broken into the fourth tier of the highly-respected University of Virginia Center for Politics’ ranking of possible 2016 contenders, ranking ahead of Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina. Snyder has also been profiled recently in Politicoand National Review Online.

But, is it really possible? Could a President Snyder really be? Well, let’s try and chart out what would certainly be an unconventional path to the Republican nomination and the presidency.

We’ll begin with a theory going aroundthat if there’s a crowded Republican primary and a front-runner doesn’t emerge, and if the nomination remains unsettled going into March of next year and the Michigan primary, and if other such governors named Walker and Christie, Bush and maybe Kasich - not to mention a few US Senators - have all failed to close the deal, then there is room for a dark horse candidate.

Right now, there is simply not a good reason for Snyder to say, outright, that he is not running.

Moreover, maybe, just maybe, if the primary remains unresolved going into the 2016 summer nominating convention in Cleveland, it could mean a brokered convention, something we haven’t seen since 1976 when Ronald Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford for the nomination.

Of course, a series of events like this might be akin to catching lightning in a bottle and there are some pretty convention things our unconventional candidate would have to do.  Sure, a committee has been set up that can take private donations to pay for things like travel across the country. But, as we’ve said all along here at It’s Just Politics: keep an eye on Snyder’s whereabouts. He’s spent the past couple of weeks traveling around the country to ‘sell’ the ‘Michigan comeback’ but early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire have “not been on agenda” (yeah, we went there.)

We’ll also be keeping an eye on tomorrow’s Proposal One vote. We’ll see how the result of the controversial ballot measure affects Snyder’s reputation as a can-do governor.

And, then, there’s the issue of money. Sure, Snyder is wealthy, but he doesn’t have deep enough pockets to self-fund a presidential campaign. One has to ask: does he have enough rich surrogates to help him make a run possible? There’s billionaire Michael Bloomberg who could certainly help. There really isn’t another candidate or potential candidate in the GOP field who more closely matches Bloomberg’s centrist leanings.

But, that’s part of Snyder’s problem. He’s to the left of the Republican base (and very left to those Republicans who tend to turn out in GOP primaries). Let’s remember, Snyder has raised taxes, pushed for expanded Medicaid, and likes to call himself the most pro-immigration governor in the country.

Snyder would also likely be the first to say that campaigning is not one of his favorite pastimes, nor is he particularly gifted at it. He still hasn't learned the art of the sound bite.

With all this said, there’s been speculation that maybe Snyder isn’t eyeing the top-job but, rather, Vice President or a cabinet position. Could be. Although others argue a cabinet position might not fit well with a governor who has been used to being the chief executive (in both business and, now, government) for decades.

Either way, as we’ll continue to argue, there is simply not a good reason for Snyder to say, outright, that he’s not running. Right now his name, his policies, and his state are all getting attention and politically-speaking, that’s not a bad thing.

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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