The race is on for the most coveted seat in Michigan: the governorship. But the question remains whether the candidates are good enough to energize voter turnout across the state. Since we were introduced to the various candidates running for both the Republican and Democratic parties I have been wondering if Michigan has been cursed this year, partly because of the most dismal economy the state has seen in a long time. None of the men running for governor appear to have any fire in their stomach, to make voters grasp the urgency of the issues at stake.
We’ve seen more bickering and the hurling of insults among the candidates, whether it is through television ads or press releases than a real exchange of ideas to help a sinking Michigan.
So in a real sense, people like myself who have been observing the process have concluded that the possibility of low voter turnout is real and the chances are higher that someone will slip into the governor’s mansion without real public scrutiny. When the public shows little appetite for change because those running are not motivational, there is a real danger that the next chief executive will be a clueless governor.
And like a train wreck we may be headed for a tragic experience because the ship of state would have lost its vision of driving Michigan to a comeback. If the candidates are not willing to lay all their cards on the table, the public must demand it because, make no mistake, this election has serious consequences.
Democrats Andy Dillon and Virg Bernero have not offered us a real insight into their plans through public debates, which is a serious blunder. While they are duking it out talking to voters, they missed an opportunity to make their cases clear in a public debate, describing how they will run Michigan if elected. The decision not to engage each other in debate does nothing to stimulate voter turnout. How can they expect voters to show up in mass numbers at the polls if they are not willing to make it clear what they are capable of doing? Voters want to analyze the candidates — when they are face to face with each other. Then they can make a better informed decision at the polls.
Republican candidates Pete Hoekstra, Mike Cox, Rick Snyder, Tom George and Mike Bouchard cannot come to terms with who would be the likely nominee, the same guessing game that is alive in the Dillon-Bernero campaign. But for some of the leading Republican candidates, such as Hoekstra, Cox and Bouchard, its clear that their run for the top office is more than saving Michigan. They also see their campaigns as a battle against President Obama.
For example, Cox joined a legal battle after the passage of the historic health care legislation in Congress to repeal the measure. He argued that Michiganders should have the right to choose if they want to be part of the health measure. He never talked about addressing the health care disparities affecting communities of color, including Detroit. Despite the fact that the health care reform will help 32 million people with health care needs, Cox is bent on removing Michigan from the list of states that would benefit. Certainly Attorney General Cox got a lot of national publicity in his challenge of the health care legislation, the kind of attention anyone challenging the president would get.
Congressman Hoekstra also made it clear that he supports Cox’s position on the health care issue. I’m yet to hear of any Republican candidate who supports the health care legislation. And, of course, there is immigration, the new political punching bag everyone wants to use for their benefit, and let’s not forget the economic stimulus package that Republicans have opposed every step of the way.
Indeed, the stakes are high for Michigan.
The GOP candidates, except for Synder, the moderate leaning candidate who has not been clear about his positions with reference to President Obama’s economic program, are set to wage a battle with Obama.
The questions must be asked: Will the next Republican governor pander to the right at the expense of Michigan taxpayers by rejecting federal programs aimed at easing the economic recession in the state? Will Michigan be forced to opt out of the health care legislation passed in Congress with a Republican governor in office?