Snyder Elected Governor

	GVSU College Republicans and GVSU College Democrats react to the 2010 elections held on November 2.

Emanuel Johnson

GVSU College Republicans and GVSU College Democrats react to the 2010 elections held on November 2.

Chelsea Lane

Bust out your pocket protectors because Michigan voters have decided nerds rule. In the first governor’s race without an incumbent in eight years, self-proclaimed “tough nerd” Rick Snyder claimed victory Tuesday night.

With 70 percent of precincts reporting, Snyder had 59 percent of the vote to Democrat Virg Bernero’s 39 percent, according to unofficial returns tabulated by the Associated Press.

Snyder gave his victory speech outside of a Detroit hotel Tuesday night where many cheering supporters held signs proclaiming that Snyder and his running mate, Grand Valley State University alumnus Brian Calley, had been “hired” by voters.

“The citizens of the state of Michigan have spoken — it is time to reinvent Michigan,” Snyder said.

Bernero conceded on election night and addressed supporters in downtown Detroit.

“It was a fight, my friends, worth fighting, but it wasn’t our time,” he said. “ … Mr. Snyder will soon be governor. He has promised to govern as a moderate like Bill Milliken, not like John Engler. I will partner with Rick Snyder and I will call on you to work with him as well, but if that doesn’t happen, you and I will be watching, won’t we?”

The election night results closely mirrored poll predictions. As of Oct. 19, non-partisan opinion research organization Rasmussen Reports recorded that of 500 likely voters surveyed, Snyder held the lead at 54 percent over Bernero’s 34 percent. An additional 4 percent of respondents preferred other candidates while the remaining 8 percent were undecided.

How Snyder Won

Paul Cornish, professor of political science at GVSU, said three key elements contributed to Snyder’s victory.

“One was Snyder’s ability to define himself – to give a frame of himself – very early in the election process,” Cornish said. “And that frame, in terms of someone who is a problem-solver and focused on things other than partisan politics combined with just a kind of wave of anti-government sentiment would be the second factor. And I think the third factor is probably just that he ran a good campaign. He avoided mistakes.”

Cornish said the second factor has been a trend in this election cycle that may disappear next time around, but in this instance created a nice avenue for Snyder and other newcomers to the political arena. Snyder, who has never held a political office, marketed himself to voters as “one tough nerd” who would apply his business savvy to the state’s ailing economy.

“That seems to have helped him immensely, that he was able to get himself out there as someone who’s different from other politicians in an election cycle when people are so seemingly excited about snowing out the politicians,” Cornish said.

GVSU College Republicans Chairman Kyle Smith agreed Snyder’s image as an outsider helped him achieve victory.

“I think Michigan is tired of the political status quo,” he said. “We’ve elected non-career politicians to quite a few positions throughout the state now. I know that the winner up in the first congressional district has been a general surgeon for thirty years and, of course, now we have Rick for governor.”

While Cornish said Snyder’s managerial experience from his days as CEO of Gateway, Inc. have helped craft an image of somebody who is capable of increasing economic development and job production, his primary challenge will be working with legislators who maintain their own concerns and constituencies.

“He seems to be able to work very well with other people,” Cornish said. “He seems to be a very affable person. He seems to be relatively moderate, politically speaking. So one would think that he would be able to work with other people very well, but that’s kind of an unknown because he’s never held a position of political leadership.”

Next Steps

Gov. Jennifer Granholm traveled to Detroit Wednesday morning to counsel Governor-elect Snyder on transitioning into office. Local Republicans already have high expectations for Snyder.

“I am ecstatic with the results of (Tuesday’s) election,” Smith said. “… Michigan’s voters decided that Rick needs support throughout government and decided voting Republican was the way to do so.”

Smith said he would first like to see Snyder focus on the Michigan Business Tax, which placed a financial strain on some small businesses.

“We must alter or eliminate this tax to help make Michigan friendly to business again,” he said. “I believe Michigan will see a reduction in unemployment and more business entering the state.”

Smith said in total, volunteers at the Fix Michigan Center in Grand Rapids placed more than 14,000 phone calls to potential voters and he was glad to see their efforts pay off in the end.

“It’s a great feeling to see all your hard work come to fruition and have that feeling on election night that yes, this is what those phone calls, those door knocks and all the literature-drops, this is what we worked for,” he said.

Although Smith described the mood at the Fix Michigan Center as “very optimistic” on election night, the results were not so encouraging for Democrats, who lost control of the House of Representatives and also failed to capture the Secretary of State and Attorney General positions in-state.

“Election night was obviously very disappointing in nearly every regard for Democrats across the state and country,” said GVSU College Democrats President Paul LeBlanc. “It’s quite clear that public discontentment with widespread unemployment and the state of the economy in general has hit the party hard.”

However, LeBlanc said he was pleased the Democrats maintained control of the Senate and that Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) won the 75th District State House of Representatives seat.

“Though the results were disappointing, we remain optimistic that voters will now be able to see the clear differences between the Republican Party’s leadership and our leaders during the next two years and this will prove beneficial for us in 2012,” he said.

LeBlanc added he hopes Snyder and other Republican leaders will view the election results not “as a mandate to enact their agenda” but a chance to work on a bipartisan solution to the country’s economic problems.

“Rather than using Tuesday’s victory as an opportunity to tend to the GOP’s pet projects and cater to the party’s interest groups, Snyder and the new Republican majority should work with Democrats in the legislature to enact rational economic policies that aim to turn our economy around and extend assistance to those hit hardest by the recession,” LeBlanc said. “We will only see the dismal state of the Michigan economy begin to turn around if the Republican leadership decides to do this. If not, we can only expect more of the same.”

Smith also expressed hope for political cooperation but said the new balance of power in Congress will make it “significantly more difficult” for the Obama administration to enforce its policies.

“With Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, President Obama will need to be more open to working with the other side to have his policies passed through Congress,” he said.

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