Snyder: 'We have been reinventing Michigan'
Detroit — Gov. Rick Snyder won a second term Tuesday, overcoming a late surge to defeat Democratic challenger Mark Schauer.
Late polls had predicted a tight race, but the one-term Republican led Schauer most of the night by wide margins. It got tighter as the night progressed, but never grew uncomfortable for Snyder.
Snyder declared victory about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday. He told supporters at the Detroit Marriott in the Renaissance Center that Schauer, a former congressman from Battle Creek, conceded to him.
During a 20-minute speech, Snyder said his victory shows the state embraces his agenda to reform the state after a decade of economic and political stagnation.
"We have been reinventing Michigan by showing blame is not the answer," said Snyder, a businessman turned politician. "The answer is to be positive
A few miles away at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, Schauer told supporters that he faced long odds and came close against the incumbent.
"We went the distance with Rick Snyder," Schauer said. "But tonight with all the votes counted, it looks like were going to come up a little bit short."
He said the campaign taught him "the people of Michigan never give up. When we get knocked down, we get back up."
Snyder pledged to continue programs that have created jobs and kept young people in the state. Snyder said is building a foundation by tackling the toughest jobs first, such as Detroit's finances. The city should emerge from bankruptcy by week's end, Snyder said.
"One thing I'm proud of in this campaign is we didn't run negative ads," Snyder said in his victory speech. "We didn't spend time talking about what was wrong with someone else."
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said Snyder won because "he said what he was going to do and he did what he said."
"He knew the trajectory was on could only be changed if it was looked at as one big family," Calley said.
State Republican Party chairman Robert Schostak told supporters about 11 p.m. that "we are making history tonight," as GOP incumbents Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson also won re-election.
The comments came about an hour after Michigan Democratic Party chairman Lon Johnson told The Detroit News "it's going to be a long night" because absentee votes and those from Wayne County had not been counted. Schauer was counting on big turnouts in heavily Democratic areas to propel him over Snyder, a businessman turned politician.
Throughout the night, though, results countered predictions of recent polls of a deadlocked race. Snyder won 55-43 percent in Oakland County, even though it is considered a swing county and half the voters who voted straight ticket went for Democrats.
The governor is also up 54-44 in Macomb County, another swing county, with 93 percent of precincts reported.
Schauer won 93-7 percent in Detroit with all precincts reporting. That's a big margin, but not bigger than what Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero drew in 2010 when he lost to Snyder.
Turnout in the city was 31 percent, far less than city officials had predicted.
Schauer is also out-polling the governor by 65-33 percent in the reliably Democratic Wayne County, but not enough to make a difference.
In other balloting, Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters won easily over former Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in the bid to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit.
After concluding a three-day bus tour of the state Monday, the governor had a relatively light campaign schedule on Election Day, making two public appearances in Washtenaw County and spending the rest of the day with his family.
By contrast, Schauer stumped for votes from his hometown of Battle Creek to Lansing and Flint, and worked his way south into the Macomb and Oakland county suburbs before finishing the evening in Detroit.
Snyder gave media interviews Tuesday evening in the Marriott ballroom as Schauer dropped into restaurants to greet voters on East Lafayette Boulevard eight blocks away.
Schauer and Democrats were banking on a large turnout in Detroit and other urban areas as well as get-out-the-vote efforts.
To underscore it, President Barack Obama called a Detroit radio station Tuesday to urge listeners to get out and vote for Schauer and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters, who is running against Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
Schauer has waged a referendum-style campaign on the governor's record, focusing on Snyder's first year decisions to eliminate $1.8 billion in taxes for 95,000 businesses and raise $1.4 billion in new tax revenue from individuals by eliminating popular credits and exemptions.
Schauer played to his party's labor union base, vowing to repeal Snyder's income tax on public sector pensions for retirees born after 1946.
Snyder has said the business tax cut was necessary to spur economic growth and he's touted the creation of nearly 300,000 private-sector jobs since he took office. He defended the pension tax as a matter of fairness to retirees with other forms of income.
The governor also in recent days promoted his work tackling Detroit's debt and reforming city government through a state emergency manager takeover and the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Republican groups panned Schauer for having an ambiguous plan for running the state and attacked his congressional and legislative voting records. But Snyder himself almost never criticized his opponent directly until late in the campaign, referring to Schauer as a "career politician."
"I ran a positive campaign and that's something we need more in this country," Snyder told reporters.
By contrast, Schauer ran a disciplined campaign that has focused on a perceived shortfall of education funding in school classrooms, claiming the governor cut $1 billion during his first year in office from public education.
After Labor Day, Snyder began saying Schauer and the Democratic Governors Association was "lying" about his record, particularly state funding for education, which has increased by $1.1 billion since he took office. Most of the money has been directed to school employee retirement benefits, while direct aid to school districts hasn't kept pace with inflation.
"One of the challenges we had in this particular race is there was millions and millions in outside special interest money coming in against me, and we simply didn't have all of the resources to counteract that," Snyder told reporters early Tuesday evening. "I mean, literally it was a million dollars a week for a month there, again largely lies with respect to education cuts and other things. We responded the best we could."
Schauer also highlighted the higher tax bills under Snyder after the governor reduced homestead property tax credits for seniors, made the earned income tax credit for the working poor less generous, eliminated a $600-per-child tax credit and began taxing younger retirees' pensions.
Schauer had already been up for about 14 hours when he visited with diners at Lafayette Coney Island at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"I'm not going to stop until everybody has voted," he said. "I feel good. We've had an army of volunteers that have been working their tails off."
He accepted orders and got coneys — five, two without onions — for those on hand who wanted food plus a loose burger for Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who was on hand lending his support.
News Staff Reporter David Shepardson contributed