TIM SKUBICK: Governor, lieutenant relationship not always rosy

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm had her Andy Dillon. Gov. Rick Snyder has his Randy Richardville.

The relationship between a governor and his or her legislative lieutenant would appear to be a piece of cake. Cut from the same apparent political cloth, the governor seeks to advance his agenda with the able-bodied assistance of his legislative leader. They call it carrying the governor’s water.

How’d that work out with Ms. Granholm and House Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon? For the most part, it was OK but then there were times when he drove her nuts. It was not a match made in heaven.

Which brings us to the Snyder-Richardville duo. Batman and Robin it ain’t right now.

Sen. Randy Richardville is the Senate GOP leader. He’s been carrying the water for his GOP governor quite nicely but there have been some spills.

The most recent, produced some harsh feelings as the governor took to his bully-pulpit to call out Mr. Richardville and his GOP caucus accusing them of “lack of leadership.”

The rare admonishment from this usually positive governor was over the GOP Senate failure to vote on the governor’s top priority i.e. providing healthcare coverage for 320,000 folks who don’t have it. (By the way, the governor claims he is not fighting with anyone.)

Instead of doing his bidding, GOP senators left town. The governor called it a “vacation” which only added more salt to the open wounds.

Things came to a head when Lt. Gov. Brian Calley met with the Senate GOP caucus when it became apparent some senators were going to stiff the governor.

Mr. Calley explained that the front office was preparing to send out a “simple request” to act on the bill. There was no hint of confrontation, nor any indication that the mild-mannered governor would morph into Snidely


But morph he did leaving one GOP insider to suggest the governor was used to “always getting his way” and his behavior revealed a heavy dose of “arrogance.”

There is one thing about this governor, when he wants something, he wants it, which is what he told individual GOP senators, whom he summoned to his office for a little face time. One source reports he even “threatened” some of them which is not his normal MO.

As the day wore on, Mr. Richardville sauntered into the inner sanctum. Reportedly he explained his caucus, which elected him leader, was going to study this. And that is a key point that sometimes governor’s forget: The leader works for the caucus first and the boss second.

Mr. Snyder, now in no mood to send a “simple request” announced, according to someone who heard about the conversation, that “things have changed,” and he was going to call out the Republicans in a news conference that his office was scurrying to tee-up.

When he got to the tee, he used his biggest driver to take aim at the GOP leader and his colleagues.

He just bopped them on the head and never hollered “four.”

In recent days, he’s thanked Mr. Richardville for creation of a work group to iron this out “over the summer.” But that is not fast enough for the impatient Mr. Snyder.

But the relationship appears to be improving after a contentious one-on-one exchange between these two.

After the half hour session, Mr. Richardville reports the governor called back an hour latter saying, “I understand some of what your are


The governor agreed to drop the references to “vacations,” and there apparently won’t be any robo calls or billboards aimed at GOP senators back home.

In return Mr. Richardville sees a possible Senate vote in August, which the governor wants, and now Richardville reports.

“We think we’re on a positive path to success,” which is not what he was thinking last week.

Warm up the Batmobile.

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.