Gov. Snyder evades one tough question, smacks seven slow softballs during town hall rally while race tightens


Last night, Gov. Rick Snyder held what was billed as a “public town hall” but was, in actuality a campaign rally given that the host and emcee were unabashed Snyder supporters and seven out of the eight questions he answered were softballs pitched by supporters. The room was less than half full despite Snyder’s press flacks claiming they had turned away non-supporters to make room for “undecided voters”. Most of those in attendance, as a result, were clearly Snyder’s supporters:

Sturgis resident Tammy Chupp, 45, and her 19-year-old son, Chris, said they were sold on Snyder before and after the event. “I feel like he’s just a normal person doing what’s right for the people,” said Chris Chupp, a junior at WMU.

So much for “undecided voters”.

The rally consisted of the emcee waxing lyrical about Governor followed by an introduction by Western Michigan University President John Dunn that was worthy of any good campaign rally introduction. This was followed by Gov. Snyder giving an opening statement. By the time the first question was asked, 35 minutes had elapsed. Between this and Snyder’s closing remarks, there was literally only time for eight questions by the so-called undecided voters.

The first question was a surprise. Asked by independent voter Steve Patterson. He referenced the many examples of shady dealings by the Snyder administration including the SkunkWorks debacle, the NERD Fund, and “dark money”. “Why,” Patterson asked, “Would anybody trust you?”

This question was clearly designed to give the impression that Gov. Snyder was going to be taking tough questions, a misconception quickly dispelled by the softballs to follow.

Rather than actually responding to Patterson’s question, however, Snyder pivoted to his “dashboards” which he claimed proved that his administration is as transparent as a pane of glass. There was no mention, of course, of the fact that his “dashboard” once gave a thumbs-up to Michigan’s declining GDP.

It’s worth noting that the various dashboards don’t have a single thing to do the various scandals that have enveloped the Snyder administration. And, although the main dashboard is full of happily green thumbs up, 9 out of the 15 elements on the Education dashboard are thumbs down as are nearly half the relevant elements on the Infrastructure, Energy & Environment, and Seniors dashboards.

After that annoying first question was out of the way, the softballs came in slow and right in the strike zone for Gov. Snyder. One questioner, for example, was the former head of the Michigan Small Business Association who lauded the Gov. for all he’s done for businesses before asking his question.

Before he has even gotten started it seemed the event was over and Gov. Snyder was making his final remarks. What’s astonishing is that we have to endure nine more of these campaign rallies.

Meanwhile, the most recent poll out has Mark Schauer still in a virtual tie. Via Ed Sarpolus of Target Insyght:

With only five weeks to go before the general election, a poll commissioned by MIRS and GCSI found Gov. Rick Snyder at 41 percent, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mark Schauer at 40 percent, third-party candidates at 3 percent and undecided at 16 percent.

If you include leaners into the race, the tally shifts to Schauer being up 45 to 44 percent.

What’s important about that last bit is that Michigan Democratic Party has put in place an unprecedented midterm election ground game to both persuade undecided voters and turn out sporadic Democrats who often don’t vote in non-presidential years. If this focus pays off and the massive statewide “get out the vote” (GOTV) effort is successful, a great deal of those leaners will be converted to solid Schauer supporters and what looks like a close race will end up not being as close as these numbers show.

There was also continuing good news for Gary Peters who now has a solid 10-point (48-38) lead over Terri Lynn Land. While Peters’ favorables are up five points over his unfavorables, Land is under water by a mind-boggling 13 points.

All of this points to the importance of the Democrats’ GOTV effort and your part in it this election cycle. I have committed to canvassing twice a week to turn out Democrats. I hope you will find time in your schedule to do something for either the MDP’s Coordinated Campaign or for the Democratic candidate of your choice. As MDP Chair Lon Johnson says whenever he speaks, “When Democrats vote, Democrats win.” Please get involved. Need help? Start HERE.

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]