Snyder ads tout ‘comeback story,’ House candidates

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday will launch a new advertising campaign to tout the “Michigan comeback story” and six state House candidates he wants in Lansing to help ensure the comeback “stays alive.”

The ads from Snyder, who is not up for re-election this fall, mark the governor’s most overtly political activity since the Flint water crisis began making national news nearly a year ago. Snyder has declined to endorse anyone in the presidential race but is using his name and fundraising prowess to back several state-level candidates.

The “significant” ad buy will target key House districts and run through November, according to spokeswoman Bettina Inclan, complementing Republican efforts to retain control of the lower chamber through the remainder of Snyder’s second and final term.

Snyder will pay for the ads through Making Government Accountable, a 501c4 nonprofit established for the governor in early 2015 as he was flirting with a presidential run. The fund does not disclose donors and is not required to do so.

A general version of the ad highlights various economics gains the state has made on Snyder’s watch, touting the governor in the process and directing viewers to visit a new website, Unique versions identify state House candidates Snyder hopes to work with in Lansing.

The so-called “issue ads” do not actually tell viewers how to vote. Instead, they suggest each of the state House candidates deserves thanks for “choosing to fight for your jobs.”

Separately, Snyder’s Relentless Positive Action committee is also launching a new digital ad and direct mail campaign to promote the same six candidates as “commonsense problem solvers.

The efforts will support incumbent GOP Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township, who is up against Democratic challenger Michael Stack in Oakland County’s 39th House District, and Rep. Brandt Iden of Oshtemo Township, who will face Democrat John Fisher in the 61st District.

Other versions of the ad will tout 32nd District Republican Pam Hornberger of Chesterfield Township, 57th District candidate Bronna Kahle of Adrian, 64th District candidate Julie Alexander of Hanover and 66th District candidate Beth Griffin of Paw Paw.

“To continue the positive impact of the Michigan comeback, we need partners in the Michigan Legislature that share our commitment to the state’s reinvention, rebuilding our economy and growing jobs in Michigan,” Snyder said in a statement.

Republicans have controlled all branches of state government since Snyder won office in 2010, but Democrats are optimistic they can pick up nine seats and take control of the House this fall.

Snyder’s support could backfire, said Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon, citing the governor’s job approval rating, which stood at less than 40 percent in early August, according to a Detroit News-WDIV poll.

“If I was a House candidate, I’d be asking Snyder to be as far away from me as possible,” said Dillon, a former state legislator. “He’s entitled to do what he wants … but I can’t imagine he’s going to be very helpful to anybody looking to either get elected or seek re-election.”