Gov. Rick Snyder is a creature of corporate America, not Lansing politics like his predecessors. So the Republican lacks personal relationships with many of the capital city’s movers and shakers (friend or foe).
Steve Cook, president of the Michigan Education Association, the 150,000-member teachers union, disclosed last week that he’s never had a single phone conversation or face-to-face interaction with Snyder.
“I’ve never met the man,” Cook said on WKAR-TV’s “Off The Record.” “...I do have a relationship with his staff and those closest to him. That’s good enough for me right now.”
In three years, Snyder has signed several bills reining in the power of organized labor, including a bill specifically aimed at the MEA and American Federation of Teachers Michigan that barred school districts from deducting union dues from their members’ paychecks. The bill did not apply to the unions of police officers, firefighters, prison guards or other unionized government employees.
In broader terms, Cook complains Snyder doesn’t understand public education.
But when asked how how he can draw such a conclusion when he’s never looked the governor in the eye, Cook replied: “I’m less concerned with what he says and more concerned with what he’s done.”
Obamacare name poll-killer
Messaging is key in politics as the battle over the 2010 Affordable Care Act shows.
A national CNBC poll a couple of weeks ago found opposition to the federal health care law rose when President Barack Obama’s name was attached to the act. Forty-six percent of the 812 Americans polled reject “Obamacare,” while 37 percent oppose the Affordable Care Act.
No wonder Gov. Rick Snyder preferred to call his support of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion “Healthy Michigan” when he lobbied for it in the Legislature. The Republican leader has argued he gave it a new name because it included conditions not included in the federal law, but Obamacare also didn’t sit well with the legislative GOP.
Bill adds bicycle turn signal
Since the Medicaid expansion vote, the Legislature has been mired in debating relatively minor issues. Another one is nearing a vote in the GOP-controlled state House: Adding another legally accepted hand signal for bicyclists to indicate a right-hand turn.
Current law requires bicycle riders to signal a right turn by turning their left forearm upward. But Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, wants to expand the definition so bicyclists also can extend their right arm outward — similar to an extended left arm used to signal a left turn.
The League of Michigan Bicyclists backs the move on its website as a way to “legalize the actions of the many cyclists who already instinctively point to the right.”
The legislation seems certain to pedal to passage since the state House is controlled by Republicans who already instinctively point to the right.
Ballenger sells newsletter
Former lawmaker and long-time pundit Bill Ballenger has sold his Inside Michigan Politics newsletter to Susan Demas, a younger Capitol columnist, correspondent and consultant who has authored some sharp critiques of Gov. Rick Snyder’s performance.
Demas, 36 and CEO of Lansing-based Susan J. Demas Communications LLC, now adds publisher to her titles. In his announcement, Ballenger said Demas joins a small number of women who own and operate Michigan publications.
Inside Michigan Politics is a bi-weekly review of political issues and personalities that Ballenger founded in 1987. He says he’ll continue with the publication as associate editor and handle related speaking engagements for three years.
Senate race blame game
The battle over the federal government shutdown is being waged in the Michigan U.S. Senate campaign between Republican Terri Lynn Land and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township.
On Wednesday, the Michigan Democratic Party launched an online petition urging Land to denounce her support of the tea party leaders in Congress who are holding firm about concessions on Obamacare to reopen the federal government.
“Instead of standing up for Michigan families and calling for an end to the gridlock, Terri Land signed a pledge saying she stands with Tea Party leader Ted Cruz over his reckless, irresponsible efforts to score political points by keeping the government shut down,” the petition reads.
Meantime, Michigan and national GOP groups have been blasting emails regularly against Peters’ rejection of the GOP House plan to fund government except for Obamacare. Peters “would rather stand with the Senate majority leader than deal with the concerns of Michigan families and unions regarding Obamacare,” Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak said in a statement last week.
With the election still 15 months away, plenty of blame games apparently lay ahead.
Schmidt eyes Mich. Senate
Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, is among the early contenders lining up to run for the state Senate seat currently held by Howard Walker. Also a Traverse City Republican, Sen. Walker has decided three House terms and one Senate term are enough; he’s not going to seek re-election next year.
“This is what I’m going to be doing if I don’t win the Senate,” Schmidt cracked as he held open an elevator door for several people this week in the House office building.
Contributing: Chad Livengood, Richard Burr, Gary Heinlein