Why I am supporting the recall of Rick Snyder (& other Michigan Republicans)


I have been giving the issue of recalling Rick Snyder quite a bit of thought lately, which is probably obvious to regular readers. I have been quite ambivalent about the recall effort for a number of reasons. First, having Brian Calley as Michigan’s governor, even for a short time, gives me pause. Also, the task of collecting a million signatures in just 90 days is daunting. Finally, if the effort doesn’t go well, it may be one more demoralizing action that could depress Democratic turnout and Democratic GOTV efforts in the future.

Some have made the case against the recall pretty effectively. For example, 6th District chair and Kalamazoo Township Trustee, Mark Miller said this in a piece he wrote for Blogging for Michigan:

How realistic is the idea of recalling Gov. Snyder?

There were 3.23 million votes in the Governor’s race in 2010. Michigan law requires 25% of that amount in petition signatures, collected within a 90-day window, to launch a recall election. That’s 807 thousand signatures.

Let’s break this down a bit into what it would mean on the ground. The population of Michigan is about 10 million. Kalamazoo County, about 250 thousand. That means, proportionally, Kalamazoo County would need to provide about 20,000 signatures, and the same all across Michigan. Realistically, we would need twice that many, because Kal. is an urban, Democratic county (well, at least purple, with strong Dem. areas), and we would need to balance the population of rural counties where there would be no one at all to lead this effort.

Do we have an idea of the amount of resources it would take to gather 40,000 signatures in Kalamazoo County in 90 days? I can imagine mobilizing 100 volunteers or so to collect signatures, just from our existing volunteer base. The problem is that each of these would need to collect about 400 signatures, and a more realistic production would be ten or twenty from each volunteer. Many of these Democratic volunteers would come from the same neighborhoods, and end up asking the same people (and each other!) over and over to sign, while not getting out into the hinterlands of the county. I imagine it would be the same around the state.

The other alternative is a paid petition effort. I’ve never been involved in one, but I’ve heard that rates run around $4 – $5 per valid signature. This option would cost on the order of $4 million; less if some could be done volunteer. I don’t see anyone coming up with that kind of money; certainly not unless they were very certain by extensive polling that Snyder would lose the recall election.

And that’s the key point. Gov. Snyder is deeply unpopular, already, among the Democratic base – but the wider electorate is not hurting (yet) any more than they already were by the general economy. It won’t be time to recall Snyder until masses of folks are pounding on the door at Democratic headquarters, demanding to sign the recall petition.

At this point, this will be a truly grassroots effort. The Michigan Democratic Party has already let it be known that they will not be supporting the effort and there simply isn’t the money available for the paid petition effort Mark discusses.

The questions are whether or not it can be done and, if it’s not successful, if it will do more harm than good to the future of Democrats in Michigan.

As to the first question, with all due respect to Mark Miller and other Democrats who believe otherwise, I believe that it CAN be done. I have been contact with organizers for the Snyder recall effort. Six weeks ago, there were only a dozen or so folks involved with three core members. As of today, they have well over 18,000 people supporting their effort on Facebook and thousands of folks already signed up to volunteer. They have several large kick-off events planned including a big one this coming Saturday, and, most importantly, a very energetic group of Democrats upset with what has happened since Snyder took office and willing to take to the streets to collect signatures in an effort to focus their passion.

From an interview at A2Politico.com, a recall organizer had this to say last week:

Our organization is still growing. We have almost 17,000 supporters on Facebook and have had several thousand people volunteer on our website. We know some of these mean well, but may not be very effective, but new volunteers are joining every day. Once petition signing begins we expect to see a large surge in volunteers. That is why we are building organizational units in each county to coordinate the efforts and provide leadership and guidance to the petition circulators.

Will they ultimately be successful? There’s no way to know, of course. Certainly it will be a challenge. But, as to the second question, I still believe the effort will NOT do more harm than good, even if it is not 100% successful.

Right now, Democrats in Michigan have little to do except sit back and let the Republicans have their way. Since the GOP controls every aspect of our government all the way down to the Supreme Court, no amount of sign-waving rallies, phone calls or letters are likely to budge the Michigan GOP members from their steamrolling efforts to shape Michigan in their own political image. I believe that will be more demoralizing than a recall effort that isn’t ultimately 100% successful. The recall effort will also be a huge organizing tool and will help organize Democrats in preparation for 2012 when their efforts will be in even greater demand. If it IS successful, it will motivate Democrats in our state like never before.

All of these arguments can be applied to the recalls of several GOP House members as well, something I wrote about last month. The recall targets mentioned in my piece have been chosen wisely; each of them is vulnerable.

So, I am supporting the recall effort. It’s not going to be easy. It is going to mean people getting out and pounding the pavement to get signatures. But I believe that there are a large number of Democrats in Michigan that regret not getting more involved in 2010 or who actually realize they made a huge blunder when they voted for a Republican. I have to believe that many of these people will want to make up for that mistake by contributing to the recall effort.

At this point, it’s really our only option other than to sit on the sidelines as Republicans in our state pass law after law, rolling back any and all gains made by Democrats over the past eight years. From the rights of workers to join a union and be represented in collective bargaining to women’s reproductive health issues, the GOP is on a mission to roll back the clock and roll back progress. I believe the time is NOW to stand up and fight.

I hope you’ll join us.

NOTE: There are already reports of sabotage of the recall effort. Groups have been hawking online petitions as well as going to door-to-door with phony petitions in Washtenaw County and other areas. There will not be any valid online petitions and DO NOT sign a petition before next Saturday. Also, you can NOT download petitions to circulate from the internet. There will be a large kick-off rally on Saturday, May 21 from noon-6:00 at the Michigan Capitol Building. The Event Page on Facebook is HERE.

Visit FireRickSnyder.org to learn more about the recall effort, to volunteer and to donate to their cause. Click the “Rallies” tab to find out about upcoming events. Most updates appear on their Facebook page first which can be found HERE.

  • winterinthehinterland

    I appreciate your careful and well-reasoned thought process. Every day now we have been peppered with new revelations about other communities being targeted by Governor Snyder’s draconian Public Act 4 emergency financial manager law.  First it was Benton Harbor, Ecorse and Mt. Clemens with dozens of others on the potential “hit list”. Then a few weeks ago it was announced that 18 locations in the Detroit area would be taken over.  Last week it was the City of Pontiac and Antrim, Otsego, Charlevoix and Cheboygan Counties. Today they are talking about the City of Flint. Who is going to be next?  If the Democratic Party waits until 2012 to push back, what will there be left to fight for?

    Other states across the nation are monitoring this situation very closely because they fear their state will be next. The enemy, the international predatory hedge fund vultures, now have Michigan in a deadly vice-grip. They have destroyed other countries before and stripped them of their natural resources – and they will continue to do so here unless WE THE PEOPLE STOP THEM!!!   The people of Bolivia put a stop to this and kicked their butts!  If they can do it WE CAN DO IT!!! 

    It is imperative that each and every one of us step up and hold the line NOW if we want to continue to have a democracy and save our precious natural resources.

    I encourage others to get involved and join us in this effort!  Michigan Forward will be circulating petitions to repeal PA 4 starting June 2, 2011.

    If you have not already done so, please sign up to volunteer at the http://www.MichiganFoward.org website.

    You can also sign up and share their facebook page at:


    Or they can be found on Twitter at:


  • Chad Phillips

    Well said.  I’m seeing a lot of organizing and relationship building already as a response to the current legislation and in anticipation of this recall.  Plus, it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.  

  • Chad Phillips

    Well said.  I’m seeing a lot of organizing and relationship building already as a response to the current legislation and in anticipation of this recall.  Plus, it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.

  • poe

    I have also been ambivalent about recall, but for somewhat different reasons. I’m opposed to the idea of recalls on a visceral level; if you don’t get your people out to vote, if you don’t care enough to get involved, part of me says that you deserve the government you get. I too have given this a lot of thought, and I don’t support the recall efforts lightly, but Snyder is different. The “reasonable” candidate he presented himself to be was a charade. His entire campaign was a lie, and for that there should be consequences. If he thought his agenda was the right one for Michigan he should have said so. Of course he wouldn’t have won, so he chose instead to be dishonest to a degree exceeding that of even most politicians. I know some reasonable people who voted for him, but I don’t know a single person who believed this is how he would govern. Yet there he is, behaving as if he has a mandate to destroy our state.

    I know this won’t be easy. If I thought he could be persuaded to temper his actions, was willing to take into account the public outcry against his policies, I would probably not support a recall effort. But it’s obvious that he absolutely will not listen. The law provides a remedy for such blatant violation of the public trust, and I believe now is the time to use it. Whatever the outcome, we have to try – and along the way we must fully learn the lesson that inaction is a decision too. So count me in. All in.

    • Excellent comment, Pam. I completely agree.

  • memiller

    Since you quote me, let me make a few more points to make my position clear:

    If I thought we could get the signatures, win a recall election, and win a replacement election (who is our candidate?) I think that would be a fine thing.  It would prevent a great deal of suffering over the next few years before the next Governor’s election. I completely agree with the view of Snyder as a stealth candidate, who did not in any way lay out what he is now doing during the campaign.

    Further, if this goes forward, in spite of my skepticism, I pledge to personally collect at least 100 signatures. And unlike some folks (not speaking of present company) who are blithely talking about 807,000 signatures as if that is no big deal, I’ve actually had the experience of collecting petition signatures — both to get on the ballot myself, and for a few referenda in the past. It is hard work to get even 40 valid signatures.

    By contrast, it is easy to click the like button on Facebook. So, they have 17,000 folks there. That’s 17,000 signatures …. out of 807,000, or a million, needed … IF they can get the petition in front of the face of all those folks. (How?) In NO WAY does that equate to 17,000 volunteers.

    In the conversation you report with the organizers, what I do not see is any quantitative discussion – how many actual volunteers do they expect to deploy? How many signatures do they expect the average volunteer to collect? Do they know how many volunteer hours it takes to collect 100 signatures?

    I check back at the recall site fairly often, and what I see there is the same dated information, referring to the petition language hearing, and nothing about whether they have recruitment goals, or how far they are towards meeting them. I see no evidence that they have anyone on board with experience in managing a complex, statewide petition drive.

    One final point – it is not 90 days anymore. It is 81 days – and nothing has been done yet.

    • You make very good points, to be sure, Mark. When I said “all due respect”, I meant that. I respect your knowledge and experience and, although I am supportive of this effort, the concerns you raise were exactly why I have been ambivalent. I quoted you specifically because I think you bring a reasoned and reasonable position to the debate. I hope you perceived it in that way.

  • Regardless of whether or not the recall effort could be successful, I think the Dem’s blew an opportunity here. I personally heard the Kalamazoo Dem Party Chair say MULTIPLE times, over the course of a few months, that “The only calls we get in the office these days are from people looking to recall Snyder.” Regardless of whether you feel we could have been effective, I think we had/have an opportunity to engage people’s passions and recruit volunteers. If the signatures for Synder don’t work, can we then focus efforts from all these passionate volunteers on Rep Bolger or other vulnerable seats? At the very least can we collect all these people’s names who haven’t been engaged before and make sure we call on them come November? I understand we want to get behind efforts that are successful, but I don’t think it’s good rationale that because we might fail we shouldn’t do ANYTHING. We are missing an opportunity here by not engaging people…. , but I don’t think it’s good rationale that because we might fail we shouldn’t do ANYTHING. We are missing an opportunity here by not engaging people….

  • Gormatthews

    I just heard Virg Bernero on First Shift, 6-9am, 1310am radio from Dearborn (I think).   He quoted Rick Snyder – said he was in a meeting with the gov. and told him the banks need to be stopped from all the fraudulant foreclosures.  Snyder’s reply?  That “we can’t have a rush to judgement against the banks  —  they are very important institutions.”  So Rick, families aren’t?  Having a place to live isn’t?  I guess I know EXACTLY where our gov. stands.