We just want to get that on the record since it’s likely that will be the last time we get it right. (And we never pass up a chance to plug Lansing Online Radio on WLNZ 89.7 on Monday nights at 7 p.m.)
First, a brief port-mortem. On the Republican side, the Tea Party/Militia wing of the party split its vote trying to figure whether Mike Cox or Pete Hoekstra would be more of a Neanderthal knuckledragger. That meant the few remaining Milliken Republicans (who could hold their convention in the men’s room at Troppo’s with room to spare) and lots of Granholm-weary independents went for the Gateway CEO nerd.
On the other side, Andy Dillon, whom many Dems rightfully saw as the sixth Republican running for governor, was easily dispatched by pitbull Bernero. The Snyder folks might want to take note of the fact that just because Virg is demonstrably dumber than Snyder does not mean he can be dismissed.
According to The Detroit News, Snyder has already called for three debates with Bernero. Snyder’s well-financed advisers apparently think that people will lose their taste for Bernero’s bullying style if they have to watch him bark once too often.
Bill Castanier reminded me this morning that this is a historic race if only because it will be the first time we will have a governor from Lansing or from Ann Arbor. And in some ways, these two men mirror those two quintessential Michigan towns.
Virg is gritty and tough. Though his populism often seems feigned, his championing of the little guy is what the non-government side of Lansing is all about. Virg not only knows but like the people who live in the neighborhoods that corporations like GM have abandoned. You sense that Snyder would cringe if he were forced to spend too much time with the folks still trying to make sense of the dizzying changes that have left them by the side of the road as global economic road kill.
Virg also knows how to play politics. He cuts deals. He keeps the business community and developers happy.
Snyder is the Ann Arbor suburbs – rich, smart and conservative, if not quite reactionary. (He’s pro life but he’s for stem cell research.) Like many technocrats (unfortunately including Obama), Snyder is the kind of guy who thinks that surrounding yourself with highly paid smart folks is all it takes. (David Halberstam is gone, but his analysis reminds us that it was the best and the brightest that brought us Viet Nam and now Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the repeal of Glass-Steagall.)
Snyder is the unknown – what does he really stand for? What would he fight for?
Perhaps it’s telling that Virg played the old-fashioned theme from Rocky as he claimed the stage last night. Meanwhile Snyder played “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black-Eyed Peas – not doubt chosen by his advisers. (You would be a fool to think he listens to it daily on his iPod).
Much will be made of Snyder’s experience as a businessman and how that somehow means he knows how to run state government and bring back good jobs. Bernero will counter that we need unions so that it’s not just the Rick Snyders who get rich.
Virg will say Rick’s trying to buy the election. Rick will just smile while Virg goes up in a puff of smoke.
But the challenge for Michigan voters will be to grow up and realize that (1) all those good jobs of the past aren’t coming back no matter who is elected and (2) Michigan’s fortunes are not divorced from the national and global realities that will shape our future.
And Bill and I will be sipping coffee with out laptops, watching from the sidelines and enjoying the show.