If I were to add Rick Snyder to the list of potential presidential candidates, I would expect the same reaction from most people: Rick who?
After all, there are already two high-profile Ricks who are strongly considering (read: running for president) bids of their own, and their surnames are much more well known: Perry and Santorum. Rick Scott is also another high profile GOP governor, to add to the confusion (my satirical take on what his opponent, Charlie Crist, should have done with his last week campaigning is here).
Snyder’s lack of name ID is, of course, a major problem. Even if he doesn’t run for president, Michigan’s successes are enough to merit an article (and the presidential buzz makes it even more timely).
After winning election in 2010 by almost 20%, Snyder was reelected by four points in November. There are two things to keep in mind here: Michigan is a state that has eluded the GOP for decades, so any win here is something to be celebrated, and unlike in 2010, Snyder shared the ballot with an underperfoming Republican senate candidate.
It’s no coincidence that Michigan is now known as America’s comeback state, because few states have had the turnaround in a mere four years that Michigan has had under Snyder’s tenure. After being elected the first time as “one tough nerd,” Snyder wasted no time in doing what was necessary to recover from Michigan’s “lost decade” in which Michigan suffered from double digit unemployment and lost 300,000 jobs.
As is normally the case, a post from Republican Security Council accurately sums up the tremendous track record Snyder has compiled in office:
“The GOP’s Mighty Michigan Is An Amazing Comeback State – They Have A Message For The Nation
Michigan has come a long way in four years under Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and a GOP legislature. The amazing transformation has made it a top comeback state with lower taxes and regulations, job creation, and significant financial reform.
The GOP ended a lost decade of economic failure, and now the state is growing again.
They have moved from the very bottom of most economic measures to being the nation’s sixth fastest-growing state. Their real message is “We said it and we did it.” The GOP record includes:
- The Michigan Business Tax was repealed. Snyder’s 2010 campaign was based on opposition to the “incredibly complex, unfair and job killing” tax. Snyder won but the battle was tough, and the Lt. Governor cast the tie breaking vote.
- They also eliminated the personal property tax.
- They are now a Right to Work state. They did it despite the fact that Michigan has the fifth highest number of unionized workers in the country, and is the birthplace of the UAW.
The Michigan law took away the unions’ ability to fire workers for not paying them.
- They created the Office of Regulatory Reinvention to make it easier to conduct and attract business. Over 1500 rules have been abolished.
- They stopped the double taxation of small businesses and passed workers’ compensation reform. Business costs have come down significantly.
- They enacted four balanced budgets ahead of schedule. Four years in a row.
- They helped create over 300,000 new good jobs at good wages. Unemployment is back to 2006 levels. Snyder believes “Government doesn’t create jobs; it creates the environment in which jobs can flourish and free enterprise can work. And that’s the path we’re on now.”
- In 2010, Moody’s ranked the state as the worst in projected job growth. Once again, because of the GOP reforms, Michigan now has the 6th fastest growing economy.
- Compared to last year, Michigan has jumped nine spots in the latest study on economic competitiveness — and they have improved 17 spots since 2012.
- They are now fourth in the nation for new capital investment projects.
- Home prices have increased by 11% from a year ago. That’s the biggest year-over-year jump in all 50 states. Metro Detroit home construction is at its highest level in over a decade.
- At the same time Michigan has increased funding for K-12 education by $1.1 billion over the past four years.
- In March 2013, Detroit was close to collapse with $18 billion in debt. It suffered from 50 years of mismanagement, out-of-control borrowing, and corruption at City Hall.
It ranked at the top in crime, urban blight, mass population exodus, boarded up buildings, double digit unemployment, and business relocation.
The population went from two million to 700,000, and wealthy and middle-class residents fled to the suburbs. Residents had to wait for over an hour if they dialed 911, and 40% of street lights did not work.
Snyder appointed an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) to takeover most duties of the Mayor and City Council. It was the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
The EFM changed the liberal city charter, and took quick action the Mayor and City Council did not have. The EFM said the city was “dumb, lazy, happy and rich” for too long.
Layers of bureaucracy were abolished, and $7 billion in debt was slashed. Snyder helped negotiate a grand bargain to save the city, and improve basic services.
It is starting to work and the crime rate has come down 18%. The city must now stay within budget for three years in a row before Detroit can come out of strict state oversight. The city has a long way to go but every day there are new signs of investment and growth.”
If nothing else, this record of astonishing success is a model that many newly elected Republicans (such as Bruce Rauner, Charlie Baker, Larry Hogan, etc.) can aspire to rival.
It’s always difficult for governors to build up a renown for foreign policy, but Snyder has already been to Israel on a trade mission (as have most governors), and is taking Michigan’s success story on a nationwide tour (because a book tour is so cliche, right?).
Before the election, I would tell people that the four must-win governor’s races were Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan (notice that Wisconsin isn’t on that list, chiefly because Mary Burke said she wouldn’t be able to repeal Scott Walker’s signature Act 10 due to its overwhelming popularity).
Just four years ago, who would have thought that Michigan would be touted as a model for the GOP? That fact alone is enough of a reason to take Snyder’s potential candidacy seriously, and even if that never materializes, is a reason to learn from Michigan’s comeback.
You’ll notice I didn’t actually answered the question in the title, but I will probably revisit it later on.