91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Schuette running against the past

Here’s a scoop: We already know who’s on the ballot next year. Even though you won’t see their names in the voting booth.

Election 2018 is a little more than a year away but we are looking forward to the past.

It’s pretty certain that whoever the Democratic nominee for governor is next year is going to make an issue of Governor Rick Snyder’s record. If you’re a Democrat, you’ll want to talk about his use of Emergency Managers, the Flint water crisis, and Right to Work.

But we’re seeing Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette kind of doing the same thing as he eyes the office held by term-limited Snyder with whom, even though they’re from the same party, he’s had a tempestuous relationship.

Now that he’s officially in the Governor’s race, Schuette is trying to separate himself from the status quo. He’s supposing that voters want something new and different. And, that’s not an unsound political strategy when you look back at 2016, a year full of establishment backlash.

So, Schuette says Michigan needs to “cop a new attitude,” suggesting a break from the past. “I want Michigan to be a growth state, a paycheck state, a jobs state,” he said recently.

But, fellow Republican Rick Snyder, 14 months from retirement, is already defending his legacy, saying he is the “jobs governor.”

He rallied a recent audience at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, “We are the jobs state in the nation today! We are the fiscally responsible state in the nation today. We only have room to keep going up. Let’s get it done!”

Granholm. Snyder. Those are two names you will not see on your ballot in November 2018.

This is a prime example of it being hard to run what needs to be a new, exciting campaign when you’re a candidate running after a politician of the same party. Think Hillary Clinton after Barack Obama. John McCain after George W. Bush. Al Gore after Bill Clinton.

Here in Michigan, remember Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus trying to follow Republican Governor John Engler? Instead, then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm - a Democrat - was the new, interesting candidate. She won.

And, now, Schuette is trying to capitalize on that piece of history by trying to re-connect voters’ memories to the miseries of the Great Recession.

In a recent online ad from the Schuette campaign he tells the audience, “The only thing that got blown away during Jennifer Granholm’s governorship were the hopes and dreams and aspirations of Michigan families.”

Schuette is taking aim at a politician who has not been in office for 7 years.

Granholm. Snyder. Those are two names you will not see on your ballot in November 2018. But, both of whom would probably tell Schuette it’s easier to campaign against something than it is to do the job once you have it.

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.
Related Content