Finley: For president, a governor
Gov. Rick Snyder said on CNN last week the 2016 Republican presidential nominee — and the nation's next president — should be drawn from the corps of GOP governors who are either being mentioned or have expressed interest in the race.
Snyder's contention is that while Washington has mired itself in partisan bickering and gridlock, Republican governors like himself have been downsizing state governments, building better business climates and tackling the tough jobs of reforming tax and regulatory codes. Progress in the states is far outpacing that of the federal government.
And while Snyder didn't say which governor he prefers, or whether his name should be included on the list of hopefuls, there certainly is a bountiful crop of current and former governors to choose from, even with the decision by ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney not to make a third bid.
At the moment, the list includes former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas, and current Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Mike Pence of Indiana and John Kasich of Ohio. (Ohio also has a senator, Rob Portman, in the mix, reflecting its status as a critical swing state.)
Who knows whether Snyder is just playing or is really weighing the presidency — he answered the question during the CNN interview before being asked by saying he is focused on Michigan.
But he's right that the winds this cycle seem to favor governors.
"The main factor is that there's such an anti-Washington, anti-establishment mood in the country, and anyone from outside Washington can play that card," says David Dulio, chairman of the political science department at Oakland University. "Governors are not part of that Washington culture."
A governor also can also take credit for specific and visible achievements as an executive. Congress members or other Washington insiders can rarely claim sole credit for anything.
The executive experience plays well at a time when voters feel the federal government is adrift, Dulio says.
If the current environment holds, nominating a governor would give Republicans their best weapon against the presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whose resume is all Washington — secretary of state, senator, first lady.
Dulio cautions, though, that it matters which governor is nominated. With Romney's decision, Jeb Bush moves to the top of the polls.
But Bush is the one Republican governor who shares Clinton's main weakness — voter fatigue. Even though their first names are different, voters may look at a Bush/Clinton ticket and think "been there, done that."
Still, the country has struggled for six years under a president who came to office with no previous management experience and few skills in team building, negotiating and high pressure decision making.
Voters are ready for a proven leader. A successful governor is in the best position to make the case for bringing effective leadership to Washington.
And Republicans enter the 2016 race with no shortage of successful governors to choose from, perhaps even one from Michigan.
Follow Nolan Finley at detroitnews.com/finley.