As the political campaign season heats up, Michigan prepares for its primary election. The major race to watch, state-wide, is for the governorship, which is due this cycle. Democrat Jennifer Granholm is term-limited out, and Lt. Gov. John Cherry declined to run. Front-runners are emerging in both parties; Lansing mayor Virg Bernero and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon lead the Democratic ballot. On the Republican side, there are five credible candidates: Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Attorney General Mike Cox, state Sen. Tom George, U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, and Gateway mogul Rick Snyder.
So far this race, on the GOP side, looks like a close fight between Cox and Hoekstra. Cox has been aiming for the gubernatorial nod since his run for A.G. — and some of his practices (e.g., adding me to his political email list when I signed up through the state for his official AG email alerts) seem shady in the typical office-seeking vein. Word on the street, among Lansing veterans, is that Cox is ambitious, foul-mouthed and thin-skinned. He suffered a recent high-profile setback when he tried to join the state lawsuits against Obamacare only to be publicly slapped down by Granholm (herself, a two-term state A.G.).
The other candidates have their sundry charms. George is a solid guy but he has relatively limited name recognition and access to funds. Bouchard peaked early; he tapped Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to serve as his No. 2, although doing so raised the usual Detroit/Outstate argument that still rankles the typical Grand Rapids sense of importance, and the Land selection proved to be not quite as powerful as Bouchard may have hoped. And Snyder? He is effectively painting himself as the candidate of the small-business outsider, and he has money, but not a lot of political experience. That may work for him in this anti-incumbent year — but maybe not, with the GOP grassroots that turns out for the primaries and the Tea Party trying to form its own recognized party organization.
I think the best choice for Michigan this year is Pete Hoekstra. The congressman has held powerful leadership roles in Washington, including most notably as a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and he has been a reliably conservative voice that is rare for being sane and restrained as well as thoughtful. His emphasis on job creation, in particular, deserves careful consideration.
The proof of any candidate’s mettle is in the quality of his support staff. Hoekstra’s campaign is one of the few where I volunteered to help and actually got a real, non-form-generated response from someone who paid attention to what I wrote in my introductory email. Contrast that to the default response of Kent County Republicans, who won’t answer no matter what you do.
Elections matter. The current state of the political climate in Washington is proof of that. This August, Michigan Republicans have a choice — we can support a neophyte businessman, a too-eager attorney general, a sheriff, a little-known state senator, or … Pete Hoekstra.
Join me in supporting Michigan families and Michigan jobs by supporting Pete Hoekstra for governor!