Political Insider: Snyder guns down media portrayal

Detroit News staff

The national media have been focusing on Gov. Rick Snyder’s possible presidential aspirations — a pursuit that may become less likely as high-profile establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush get serious about mounting 2016 campaigns.

But Politico missed the boat last week when it portrayed the socially moderate Republican as more of a fire-breathing conservative than he really is.

Snyder “is firmly anti-abortion” and “believes strongly in gun rights,” Politico’s Daniel J. McGraw wrote in a Jan. 14 magazine article, which means he “tends to fall in lock step with his political brethren...”

This is the same Snyder who vetoed a Right to Life of Michigan-backed bill to block insurers from paying for elective abortions as part of general coverage in company health plans. So the group in 2013 gathered enough petition signatures for a citizen’s ballot initiative, and the Republican-controlled Legislature passed the abortion insurance requirement into law in a procedure that avoided another Snyder veto.

Then a day after the Politico published its narrative of Snyder, the self-described nerd governor shot down his gun rights bona fides by vetoing two bills backed by the National Rifle Association that could have made it easier for some people accused of domestic violence to obtain a concealed weapon license.

Snyder likely further angered the right wing of the GOP during Tuesday’s State of the State address when he called on lawmakers to continue debating a bill that would prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in hiring decisions, housing and public accommodations.

It was evidenced by the applause line, as all of the Democrats in the House chamber stood up and clapped, while a handful of Republicans got out of their chairs.

Conservative response to gov

It’s a tradition for the party out of power in Lansing to have a representative issue a response to the governor’s State of the State address. On Tuesday, the Democrats gladly did that, panning parts of Snyder’s speech.

But, in an unusual move, conservative Republican Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat issued their own rebuttal, which they dubbed “The Liberty Response.”

The 1,289-word missive read more like a sermon at times.

“We believe the vision (Snyder) is casting tonight is one of ever growing government, which is unsustainable and detrimental to Michigan families,” Courser and Gamrat wrote. “It is not the proper role of government to be the family, the church, or society; we make a mistake when we replace God with government.”

The duo said Snyder is violating the Republican Party’s platform by urging voters to approve increasing the state sales tax from 6 to 7 percent on the May ballot to fund $1.2 billion in road repairs and generate more money for schools and tax credits for the working poor.

“Michigan has become this governor’s business and growing his business has become his goal,” Courser and Gamrat wrote about Snyder, a former venture capitalist.

They called the sales tax hike “the governor’s plan,” although that stretches the boundaries of fact. Snyder only settled for the sales tax option after the Legislature couldn’t agree on raising gas taxes to generate an extra $1.2 billion annually for roads.

Nonetheless, Courser and Gamrat said they stand ready to partner with Snyder “to protect our priceless gift of liberty.”

As The Detroit News reported Monday, observers of Michigan politics are going to hearing a lot from these two as well as their ideological counterpart, Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland.

Snyder makes an entrance

Snyder’s ruptured Achilles tendon injury was on full display Tuesday night during his address to lawmakers.

Instead of being ceremoniously escorted down the middle aisle of the House chamber, Snyder rolled in through the backdoor with his injured leg on a scooter. He rested his leg on a stool throughout the speech.

The governor, who usually walks at a brisk pace, said the injury has given him a different outlook on mobility.

“It really has given me a much greater perspective on the challenges someone with a disability faces,” Snyder said.

‘Bipartisanship’ for injuries

Another Michigan politician overdid it and now is hobbling around.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, was sporting crutches on Wednesday for the first time — after he suffered a hairline fracture. He is wearing a boot just like Gov. Rick Snyder.

Kildee said the injury was a “repetitive use” problem. “I’ve been doing a lot of walking — like fast walking,” he said, adding he hopes to avoid surgery.

After the connection to Snyder was noted on Twitter, Kildee said: “bipartisanship!”

Nickname for an idea

Gov. Rick Snyder’s call in Tuesday’s State of the State speech to help Michigan’s disadvantaged join the “river of opportunity” got the Insider to thinking.

The helmsman of this river effort needs a moniker. Here’s an unsolicited nickname for One Tough Nerd: Old Man River.

Expansion vs. limitation

Finally, the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy says Snyder called for six “expansions of government” compared with one “limitation of government” Tuesday night. That’s close to Snyder’s four-year average of seven proposed expansions per State of the State message, says center fiscal policy director Michael LaFaive.

The proposed expansions: a penny-per-dollar sales tax increase for roads; legislation and a new commission to boost third-grade reading scores; ramping up the Community Ventures and Pathways to Potential programs; a new state energy agency; more spending to combat Great Lakes invasive species; and creation of regional prosperity teams.

The limitation: seeking waivers to consolidate 145 programs as part of a Department of Human Services-Department of Community Health merger.

LaFaive says since 1969, the lowest average number of State of State expansion proposals came from ex-Gov. Bill Milliken, including 1974, when he proposed no expansions. Ex-Gov. John Engler was the Mackinac Center’s government limitation proposal leader, averaging 4.3 per SOS speech.

And the leader in proposed expansions? Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, with an average of 16.25 per speech.

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Richard Burr, Gary Heinlein