TIM SKUBICK: Tea Party ire may be just what Snyder needs
Since the Tea Party is such an amorphous group with no political center of gravity, it’s hard to get your arms around how much support Gov. Rick Snyder had the first time he ran.
It’s unlikely that the anti-tax types plunked for the angriest Mayor in America, but we’ll never know if many of them simply refused to vote for the tough nerd.
Well actually one such vote can be documented.
Joan Fabiano, of Lansing, reveals she didn’t vote because she was not sure about candidate Rick Snyder, and now three years later she is sure she was right. She looks at his record on the bridge to Canada, the senior pension tax, his so far ill-fated efforts to raise revenue for the roads and his mad dash to insure 300,000 uninsured in the Medicaid system, and she does not cotton to what she sees.
Hence, Ms. Fabiano and 24 of her closest friends penned an open letter to the governor denouncing him for not being one of them and then this political shot at the man Ms. Fabiano calls “a little too liberal:” “Conservatives should not help this governor get re-elected.”
It’s dicey to gauge the impact of this letter since we don’t know if the 25 represent thousands of others in the Tea Party or just themselves, but either way the popular wisdom is this hurts the incumbent.
Or is it?
Actually you could make a strong case that by blasting him, as they did, they have inadvertently helped him to win next year.
Don’t turn to the sports section yet, this is not as far-fetched as you might think.
You may have noticed that the governor’s image of the wanna-be and kinda moderate Republican has been tarnished. Independent and moderate women are taking a second look at him, but now that the Tea Party folks have abandoned ship Snyder, those women may take a more measured second look.
They could be thinking, “Geez, if the Tea Party doesn’t like him, maybe he’s not half as bad as we think he is.”
The “Dear Governor” letter also gives himself the chance to toot his own horn about how he is independent from those groups that might disagree with him.
A Snyder supporter could argue, when the Tea Party took him on, he stood tall, did what he thought was right and did not worry about the impact his decisions might have on his own re-election thus proving he is not a career politician, which is why many citizens voted for him in the first place. In other words the Tea folks could be playing right into his hand.
Of course until this reverse-jujitsu notion is tested in the next poll, it is only a theory but one you can not reject out of hand.
Only 34 percent of the citizens in Michigan admire what the Tea Party has done to the state. That means the bulk of you are not going to reject this governor because you don’t like him.
Having said that, you must credit the movement with having some firepower in the legislature where they pretty much have Republicans at their beck and call.
Squeamish legislative Republicans are likely familiar with this threat: Do what we want or you might have a Tea Party primary opponent.
Instead of getting some backbone and telling them to “Bring it on,” some, but not all, have caved to the power that may or may not be there.
The governor, via his media mouthpiece, is standing up and shows no sign of reversing course just because they don’t like it.
For those who wonder how powerful this movement is, we’ll know the answer if they some how knock off the incumbent. Any bets?
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.