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Gov. Snyder launches a new political action committee, looks to find a new group of GOP lawmakers

A weekend of Republican partying on Mackinac Island wrapped up yesterday after 2,200 people with the time (and money) attended the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. 

Attendees heard from five presidential candidates - Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush - and plotted the future course of their party.

Governor Snyder, meanwhile, plotted the future course of his administration, working to ensure that the last half of his last term doesn’t fizzle out. Second terms, especially the final two years in office, are rarely kind to governors. Their ability to influence events evaporates because lawmakers, lobbyists, the media, and the public start looking to whoever is coming next.

Birth of a PAC

So Snyder, the reluctant politician, is looking to play some politics by rolling out his new personal political action committee - The Relentless Positive Action PAC. The governor is looking to be a sugar daddy of sorts to new lawmakers who, he is hoping, are a little more like him.

His goal: to change the character of the state Legislature by introducing a new cast of characters in 2016 as the current class of lawmakers is retired by term limits. “So let’s get it started. Let’s see how effective it can be and hopefully it will be very effective in getting people elected to the Michigan House,” Snyder told It’s Just Politics.

‘Candidate pipeline’

There will be at least 39 open seats in the state House next year (22 of those currently held by Republicans). And, word is, Lt. Governor Brian Calley is playing a key role, even seeking out and interviewing prospective candidates in some cases.

The goal, Calley says, is “to ensure that we have candidates that are running for office that maybe the regular candidate pipeline wouldn’t have produced. I would give Rick Snyder himself as an example.”

So, look for a crop of non-traditional candidates in the mold of One Tough Nerd. And with some fairly specific policy goals including, as the governor says, “fiscal responsibility, prenatal through lifelong-learning education system, a sustainable environmental, reviving our urban areas – a lot of good policies.”


But, this rollout is not without its controversy among Republican leaders in the Legislature. First off, Snyder’s RPA PAC will now be competing with other Republican PACS for donors and dollars. Also, legislators are wondering just how the chief of the executive branch intends to meddle in the affairs of the legislative branch. And, let’s not forget, Snyder has had a sometimes bumpy relationship with legislative Republicans who’ve tended to tack right, while he’s aimed toward the center.

Although it’s not necessary clear right now whether the Governor will get congratulations from fellow republicans on The Relentless Positive Action PAC, one thing is clear: this governor does not appear ready to quietly ride out his time in office.

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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