Snyder ad touts Detroit revival
Gov. Rick Snyder launched a new TV ad Thursday that touts his efforts to turn around Detroit and appears to confront misgivings voters may have about his installation of an emergency manager to run Michigan's largest city.
Without mentioning Detroit's nearly 16-month-old bankruptcy case, Snyder blames "50 years of neglect" for the city's financial crisis in the opening scene of the ad.
"Too many of our citizens were suffering," Snyder says on camera in the ad. "So we put politics aside, worked together to rebuild a strong foundation and now Detroit is on the road to recovery."
Snyder is in a tight re-election battle in Tuesday's general election against Democrat Mark Schauer, a former congressman from Battle Creek who has criticized Snyder's approach to taking over financially distressed cities and school districts.
In his new ad, Snyder makes no mention about how he used a sweeping emergency manager law to temporarily sideline elected officials in Detroit in March 2013 and appoint Washington, D.C., bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr to take the city through a bankruptcy reorganization, which is expected to conclude next month.
"Get in there, get the job done, get out," Snyder says, alluding to the state takeover of Detroit's City Hall. "That's the right way for government to solve problems."
Late last month, Orr handed off control of city government to Mayor Mike Duggan and the City Council, but he remains in charge of managing the bankruptcy until its conclusion. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has scheduled a Nov. 7 ruling on whether Detroit can shed $7 billion in debt — three days after the election
Earlier this fall, Snyder tweaked his campaign slogan from saying Michigan's economy has had a "comeback" under his leadership to now saying the state is on a "road to recovery" after some pollsters found voters weren't buying his rhetoric. His campaign also dropped a "comeback kid" label it gave him for an expensive Super Bowl ad in February.
Schauer has said the governor's modified rhetoric is an admission that his economic policies aren't working.
During their Oct. 12 town hall debate in Detroit, Snyder and Schauer jousted about the governor's approach to tackling Detroit's decades-long systemic problems.
Schauer said he would have never allowed Detroit to cut earned pension benefits, contending the governor violated his own oath office to uphold the state Constitution and its protection of pensions. Orr's plan calls for a minimum 4.5 percent cut in pensions for general retirees and a reduction in annual inflationary increases for retired police officers and firefighters.
Snyder defended Orr's plan to impose pension reductions on about 32,000 city pensioners, noting federal bankruptcy supersedes the state Constitution.
"It is constitutional," Snyder said. "A federal judge said that."
Schauer sidestepped Snyder's question about how he would have reduced Detroit's $18 billion in debts and long-term liabilities without touching pensions.
"I would have never thrown Detroit city pensioners — police officers, firefighters — under the bus," Schauer said.
"We didn't leave them underneath the bus," Snyder replied. "We did the grand bargain."
Snyder referenced the "grand bargain" in which the state has contributed $195 million to a pool of $466 million from foundations, corporations and private donors to limit cuts to monthly pension checks while shielding city-owned art from a sale to satisfy creditors.