The summer of 2015 will go down in the annals of Michigan history as a time when the Republican in our state displayed an complete and utter lack of leadership. Don’t forget that the GOP controls literally every level of government of significance – and have for the past five years – so this abject failure is theirs and theirs alone.
The most egregious failure to lead, of course, is their inability to figure out how to pay for critical infrastructure repairs to our roads and bridges. Their party now has so many anti-tax zealots that they have become paralyzed. The partially sane wing of the Michigan GOP knows that there is no way to fill the over $1 billion hole we’re in with regard to road repair without raising new revenue. The bat guano crazy tea party wing is having none of it, believing that, if they simply clutch their Constitutions and bibles and Gadsen flags tight enough, a miracle will occur and they will be able to carve over a billion dollars out of our annual budget without causing a complete collapse of our state’s economy. It’s beyond fairy tale thinking but they won’t budge. Standing in the middle is House Speaker Kevin Cotter, an anti-tax zealot himself, unable to move either group to work together. In report after report, we’re told the two sides are “making progress” and yet absolutely no progress is actually made. When Gov. Snyder gets involved, things only seem to get worse.
And this has been going on literally for years.
And then there is the Courser/Gamrat debacle. Courser, in what can only be described as a blessing to the rest of us, has finally gone silent on Facebook. Gamrat, who had kept a low profile, has amped things up by hiring a private investigator to find out who is/was “blackmailing” Courser. When the PI found two names tied to the burner cell phone from which the texts originated, they turned out to be Courser himself and Detroit News journalist Chad Livengood. Obviously neither of these are credible. But Gamrat built up the story through her spokesperson Justin Near of the PR firm Near Perfect Media and now she just looks more ridiculous than before.
She also sent around an apology to all her GOP colleagues after Rep. Cotter told her to bugger off, refusing to let her apologize in person in their caucus sessions. She’s made such an utter fool out of herself that yesterday, after just three weeks as Gamrat’s spokesperson, Justin Near resigned.
Courser and Gamrat have made a mockery out of the Michigan legislature and the Michigan Republican Party owns that in its entirety. Faced with what is an obvious choice, GOP leadership is sitting on their hands, waiting for a “investigation” to be completed into whether or not the two broke any laws. Whether they did or not, they both should be censured and then ousted from the state legislature. I’d go so far as to ban the from the Capitol Building in perpetuity. They aren’t just a blot on the Michigan GOP, they are an embarrassment to the entire state.
Cotter himself is looking mighty dodgy these days, as well. Instead of simply releasing the report from the “Select Committee to Examine the Qualifications of Representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser”, he has held onto it, presumably to scrub any hint of his own culpability in the matter. And, as Tony wrote earlier this week, his lack of action last spring – when the most poorly kept secret in Lansing was the Gamrat/Courser affair – suggests that he botched his job and didn’t take action when he absolutely should have. He obviously doesn’t want that information getting out.
Ironically, the best thing for Democrats in this situation would be for Gamrat and Courser to be recalled. If the two are ousted by the Republicans or if they resign soon, their replacements would be chosen in the November general election. If they don’t do it soon, it would be a moot point because the next general election would be when their terms are up. Alternatively, Gov. Snyder could call a special election which would cost the taxpayers in the philandering couples’ districts large sums of money to fill terms that will be up in less than a year.
However, if they are recalled, Courser and Gamrat are automatically the GOP candidate in the recall election. Whichever Democrat the local party nominates would likely win without having to even campaign. They may be replaced in November 2016 by another Republican but incumbents have certain well-known advantages so that’s not a certainty.
What makes this ironical situation most epic is that (a) Republicans made recalling people extra hard a few years back, shortening the signature collection time from 90 days to 60 days, and (b) the people most interested in recalling the pair are their tea party brethren (“the herd”) who they have so profoundly betrayed. The most delicious outcome of this entire scenario would be if tea partiers recall Courser & Gamrat and then Democrats win the recall elections and hold onto the seats in 2016.
If that were to be the legacy that Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser leave behind them in the wake of their scandalous affair and cover-up, it will be a fitting payback for the Republican Party’s failure to lead our state in its time of desperate need.
[Peace Monument photo credit: Anne Savage, special to Eclectablog]