TIM SKUBICK: Bad planning puts Schauer behind the ball

The last time a sitting governor lost his seat, was when Gov. Jim Blanchard lost to underdog John Engler. Not to take anything away from Beal City’s favorite son who pulled off a miraculous come-from-behind- victory, but Mr. Blanchard pretty much botched his re-election bid.

If the Mark Schauer campaign is hoping Gov. Rick Snyder pulls a Blanchard, his handlers should think again.

The more pogiant and unanswered question is, can Mr. Schauer pull an Engler?

A senior member of the state Democratic Party has privately advised anyone who will listen that one sure way to beat Mr. Snyder is to replicate what Mr. Engler did to the unsuspecting Mr. Blanchard.

“Do like Engler and go negative against the governor,” this sage of many campaigns suggests. By pounding away and driving Mr. Snyder’s image down, Mr. Schauer could win, this person concludes.

Well 14 months out, there is no pounding but we heard from the Schauer campaign for the first time in a long time the other day.

With a $500,000 pro-governor media blitz on the airwaves, and without the desire or probably the money to match it, the Democrats did the next best thing: Tried for some free-media.

“Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer to make major political announcement,” the news advisory tried to drum-up a little pop for their guy. Come to the event at 4 p.m. on Oct 1.

Wait a second.

4 p.m. on Oct. 1? That was an interesting news day: The first day of enrollment into that little thing they call Obamacare and thanks to the good folks in the nation’s capitol it was also the launch of the government shutdown.

In other words the Schauer campaign would be lucky to get any attention.

“It doesn’t rise to the dog-bites-man level,” confided one of the Capitol scribes who chucked covering the event.

In addition to competing with bigger stories, the state budget director conveniently called a news briefing on the federal government shutdown for 2:45 p.m. which meant many reporters would be working on that and not Mr. Schauer’s “major announcement.”

Hum, you don’t think the Snyder team did that on purpose to snatch coverage away from its likely opponent?

Regardless, Mr. Schauer forged ahead and grabbed a pretty darn good endorsement from the Michigan Education Association.

As for the media pop, the campaign was pleased, coverage was adequate but not off the charts.

But give the campaign credit as it scrambled to squeeze as much coverage as possible after it became apparent that the 4 p.m. time frame and the other more major stories would trump Mr. Schauer. Hence Mr. Schauer talked to other reporters well before the 4 o’clock event and long after it as well. Good move.

But some wags in town wondered if another date would have worked better? And wondered if they mishandled this, what else might they screw up? You know how critics are.

The Schauer inner circle was content with what it did. As for the late starting time, they had already reset the event once, and had to wait until that late hour in the news cycle because three teachers couldn’t cut class to be there any earlier. One of them was Mr. Schauer’s English teacher.

Nonetheless timing is everything in politics. Mr. Schauer critics will gripe this fell short, but the good news is it happened in October 2013 and after this column is read, no one will remember it ... except maybe the Snyder folks. They may be hoping for more of the same and concluding that Mr. Schauer, at this read, does not look like a John Engler in the making.