Friday, July 28, 2006

Handicapping the Michigan Governor's Race

In the lazy days of August, Republican challenger Dick DeVos has a 4-5 percentage point lead against incumbant governor Jennifer Granholm. Generally, I would be excited about the idea of a Republican challenger defeating a Democratic incumbent for the governorship of the state of the Michigan, but I'm rather ambivalent.

The reason for my ambivalence is my gut feeling that Dick DeVos is an empty suit, or as conservatives would say, a "country-club" Republican. He talks about being a "successful businessman" (heir of AmWay - take that for what it's worth) and a "problem-solver", but he has not given anything on a substantive or a philisophical basis on how he sees the problems ailing Michigan or how he would govern. No talk anywhere about how he would reduce the size of government or even an outline of how he sees the structural issues that have led to Michigan's economy lagging the rest of the country. Based on this, I would have to say DeVos is closer to Bob Taft (current tax and spend governor of OH) than John Engler (former slash and burn governor of MI).

As for Granholm, she hasn't done that bad of a job. With a Republican house tempering her liberal impulses, she has been OK, and her poor poll results are more due to events surrounding the auto industry than anything that the government has done or not done under her stewardship.

I think DeVos has peaked if he continues the campaign on a policy free, persona based image. If he sticks to that, I think Granholm will be able to clobber him on being an empty suit and sqeak in a win.
Here are my "keys to victory" as of today
For DeVos to win, he must:
1. Outline a substantive, conservative based platform to address Michigan's problems.
2. Make the case for change by highlighting the economic record of the state under Granholm.
3. Energize turnout in the Western half of the state.

For Granholm to win, she must:
1. Highlight many of her accomplishments as governor.
2. Show her plan to address the anxieties of the populace.
3. Show Dick DeVos as a silver-spoon "empty suit" who is running for governor as a hobby.
4. Make up with Kwamme Fitzpatrick as the Detroit turnout will be critical for her to win.

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