TIM SKUBICK: A female running-mate could seal the election

Women in general decide elections. They vote in larger numbers than men. Independent women, more specifically, wield tremendous electoral power because they don’t vote the party, they vote the person.

So appealing to female citizens is mucho importante as we have seen over the years.

When a relatively unknown congressman from Pleasant Ridge ran the first time for governor, it was wife Paula Blanchard who suggested to then hubby Jamie to pick former Congresswoman Martha Griffiths as his running mate.

It turned out to be a brilliant pick for the striking contrast it provided. The GOP candidate Dick Headlee had a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He criss-crossed the state suggesting that the women’s place was in the home. (He revealed his wife would have no role in his administration if he was elected.) He even poisoned the female voting pool by denigrating former First Lady Helen Milliken for her ERA and other alleged feminist radical behavior. The more he rattled on, the more women went, "Who is this clown?

The Blanchard-Griffiths ticket exploited that and any independent female voter, worth her salt, got the message and put them into office. In order words the Lt. governor pick in this instance was significant.

It has not always been such as other female Lt. governor candidates did not make the difference in the outcome. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence tried but just couldn’t pull the angriest mayor in American to the finish line.

And when Gov. Blanchard had to dump Ms. Griffiths the third time he ran, his choice of Libby Maynard did not produce the magic Mr. Blanchard needed to beat John Engler and his female running mate Sen. Connie Binsfeld.

Which brings us to Democrats who want to beat Gov. Snyder so badly they can taste it, but do they have to select a female running mate for whomever gets the nomination to get there?

A call went out to about a dozen political insiders in town for an answer.

“Generally the Lt. Gov. is not important,” wrote at least three of the players who responded. But others noted given the gender gap in the electorate, “there’s a powerful case to be made for selecting a female.” And that from a Republican.

It’s not so much the issue of placing a women per se there, it’s what that female brings to the table and does it help to provide that striking contrast that could take votes away from Gov. Rick Snyder and his male counterpart Lt. Gov. Brian Calley?

The female voter last time was rather intrigued by the “tough nerd” from Ann Arbor. In a sea of conservative guys, some of whom were not exactly at the vanguard of the women’s movement, Mr. Snyder was different. There was a moderate air about him that had some curb side appeal and he did secure some GOP moderate women and independents who have now had three years to evaluate their guy in office.

Democrats are fueling the fires that the governor today is not the same man who ran the first time and even the governor concedes some moderates and independents may take a second look at him now.

One democratic insider put it more bluntly, “Snyder has governed as a hostage of the extremists in the legislature.” Many women don’t cotton to extremism, the governor’s detractors are hoping.

To be sure Mr. Snyder is not Dick Headlee. This governor did not engage in the “Vagina-gate” flap in the Michigan House nor the attempt to censor female members of the House, but it was his party that did. By the same token, however, neither did he wade in to the dispute to complain what the D's conveniently described as the "War on Women.". Sometimes silence is worse than saying something or at least the D's are hoping that, too.

Just as Mitt Romney had nothing to do with the over the top comments of Todd Akins and others who got sideways into the “rape” issue, part of the independent female vote took it out on the GOP Presidential candidate just the same. The guilt by association produced what they call collateral damage.

Does the same fate await the GOP incumbent governor here?

Hence picking a woman running mate in this governor’s contest could provide a meaningful contrast . GOP moderate and independent women who sided with Mr. Snyder last time could flip and in a close election, might provide the margin of victory. Now all they have to do is find one, after they pick the person at the top of the ticket first.

Tim Skubick is Michigan’s Senior Capitol correspondent and has anchored the weekly public TV series Off the Record since 1972. He also covers the Capitol and politics for WLNS-TV6 in Lansing.