The race for Governor of Michigan is already well underway. Some candidates have declared, others are 'exploring', and others are still rumors. Let's take a look at the state of the race.
On the democrat side, Lieutanant Governor John Cherry appears to be well-positioned to receive the nomination. Other potential candidates include former Flint mayor Don Williamson, MSU Trustee George Perless, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, and Macomb County Sherriff Warren Evans.
The race on the Republican side is more wide open.
Attorney General Mike Cox was the first to open an exploratory committee. He was narrowly elected in 2002 and reelected by a wider margin in 2006, in a bad year for Republicans. Cox is a populist conservative and former prosecutor who has taken conservative stances on a wide range of issues. He has issued opinions as attorney general ending driver liscences for illegal aliens, requiring identification to vote, expanding gun rights, and more. He was the only top Republican official in Michigan to endorse the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in 2006 to end racial preferrences. Cox is from the east side of the state (Wayne County) and could do better there than other candidates.
Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land won fairly easy election victories in 2002 and 2006. She was previously the Kent County Clerk. She is generally seen as a capable manager as Secretary of State. Land is generally considered conservative, but has not taken many specific positions on the issues in the relatively nonideological positions that she has held. Land strangely interpreted an opinion issued by Cox on drivers licences for illegals that required the legislature to pass an emergency bill to avoid cutting of licences for legal noncitizens. Land did not take a position on the MCRI in 2006. Land's base is West Michigan, where she will compete with Rep. Pete Hoekstra.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra has served in Congress for 16 years representing the Holland/Muskegon area and has won easy victories in the most Republican district in Michigan. He is considered a conservative, with a 90% rating from the American Conservative Union. However, he alienated some conservatives with his vote for the 700 billion dollar bailout in 2008. His service in an unpopular Congress, particularly during the Bush years, may prove a liability. Hoekstra's base is West Michigan, where he will compete with Land and Senator Tom George.
State Senator Tom George has represented the 20th Senate district, covering Kalamazoo and part of Van Buren Counties, since 2002. He previously was a state representative 2000-2002. George is widely regarded as a capable legislator and is considered a moderate conservative. He may have turned off some conservatives with his support for a sales tax increase in 2007, smoking ban, and mandating the HPV drug Gardasil for teenage girls. George will need to expand beyond his base in Kalamazoo to win the primary.
Businessman Rick Snyder has never previously held or sought elective office. His positions on most issues are unknown. He has donated to a number of Republicans, but also supported Democrat congressman John Dingell and the group that supported human embryo destruction in the 2008 election. Snyder is believed to be planning to self-fund his campaign. Self-funding candidates usually lose, as in 2004, when 24 of 25 candidates who spent more than million dollars of their own money lost, and the one who won beat one of the other 24. Self-funding businessman Dick DeVos lost the Michigan gubernatorial race in a landslide in 2006. Snyder does not have a geographical base in Michigan.
Snyder who? I'll tell you, but you're probably not going to like it...
A few notes on Rick Snyder's various (and varied) responses
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard is considering running, but has not announced yet. Bouchard has been Sheriff for several terms, usually winning comfortably. Before that he was a state senator. He was the Republican nominee for US Senate in 2006, losing to Debbie Stabenow by a wide margin. Bouchard is generally considered conservative. He opposed the MCRI in 2006. Bouchard's base is Oakland County, and he may compete with Mike Cox for support on the east side of the state.
Prominent Republicans who have announced that they will not run include businessman and 2006 nominee Dick DeVos and Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson.
Early polls have shown Cox and Hoekstra with the best numbers among Republicans. Cox polls the best among several top Republican candidates who lead Cherry in the general election race.