The most important issue on the island--why doesn't Mackinac Island allow cars? What is this, the 1800s? They have electricity and paved roads. According to Wikipedia:
Motor vehicles were restricted at the end of the 19th century because of concerns for the health and safety of the island's residents and horses after local carriage drivers complained that automobiles startled their horses. This ban continues to the present with exceptions only for emergency and construction vehicles.So it's another wonderful government regulation in action. As with all regulations, it was promoted by an established business to restrict its competition. Conservatives sometimes use bailing out the horse-and-buggy industry as an example of the absurdity of government intervention in the market, but in this case it actually happened.
The result is that there's horse poop all over the place. The island had to import a bunch of foreigners to clean in up continually.
Mackinac Island slogan: Watch your step!
Aside from that, though, Mackinac Island really is a beautiful place. There are lots of great views of Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge.
Back at the conference, the first debate between the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls was held. There were no major surprises. Senator Tom George used every question to talk about his signature issue of health care. You can watch the debate yourself here:
The conference also featured a 'straw poll' for the statewide races. Straw polls are one of the collective absurdities of politics. It is billed as a way to determine the preferences of attendees at some event. But it is really just a fundraiser for the sponsoring organization. That means that the sponsor has no incentive to combat voter fraud, provided it gets a cut. The result is that the candidates pay for lots of people to go who otherwise wouldn't.
That makes the results basically worthless, but candidates still feel obligated to particulate, since if they don't it will look bad.
The 'winner' of the straw poll in the race for governor was Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder. While lots of candidates paid for their supporters to come to the conference, what Snyder did was different. His staff recruited hundreds of people who had never even heard of him, much less supported him. They all wore ugly lime green t-shirts. On the boat ride over to the island, they handed out a pamphlet containing Rick's ten principles for Michigan, the ten substance-free rhetoric-filled platitudes discussed earlier on this blog.
Many of the Snyder volunteers either didn't support him or actually supported other candidates, and simply came because he paid their way. This was confirmed by numerous conversations with Snyder volunteers. Snyder's campaign was so confident in its volunteers that it took the unprecedented step of physically checking their ballots for the straw poll before they were cast to see that they actually voted for him. Volunteers were not given their room keys until after this.
Former state Representative Jack Hoogendyk reports:
This year, however, it was a little different for one candidate in particular. Rick Snyder's campaign brought as many as 500 volunteers to the island. (At least that is the number rumored to have registered with the Snyder campaign in the last week alone.) They were easy to spot; they all had day-glow lime green t-shirts on. You knew they weren't road builders, Mackinac Island doesn't even allow cars.The Straw Poll. Winners: Hoekstra and McManus. "Losers": Snyder and Scott
All 500 of these volunteers were allowed to vote in the straw poll because the Snyder campaign paid the $100 for every one of them. (Nice $50,000 bump for the party coffers!) What is curious is why Snyder received only 396 votes. What was even more startling was the method used by the campaign to ensure that the "volunteers" were voting properly. I happened to notice when I was up at the hotel to vote that a Snyder campaign employee was standing inside the cordoned off voting area. Each Snyder green shirt who voted had to hand the ballot card to be checked for accuracy. Once the campaign employee was satisfied, he would stamp the hand of the voter. (Can you say "card check"? So much for secret ballots...)
Incidentally, I had a brief conversation with one of the green-shirted volunteers. When I asked her if the guy she was supporting was going to be the next governor, seriously, her response to me was, "Who's that?" I replied, "You know, Rick." She had a blank look on her face. I pointed to her shirt and continued, "Rick...Snyder." She looked down at her shirt, her face brightened and she said, "Oh, yeah, duh. Gee, that was a real blond thing to do, wasn't it?" Here is a YouTube from Right Michigan that further illustrates the point.
All of this was to create the illusion that Snyder actually has support among Republicans. Some national media outlets played along, reporting on the 'grassroots support for Rick Snyder'. Of course, he had no grassroots support. A poll shortly before the conference put him at 2% in the Republican primary.
We'll see if Snyder's sham election does him any good in the real polls.
The other outrage from the convention was the phony tea party. Flyers were distributed advertising a tea party, but it turned out to simply be Glenn Clark plugging candidates he supports, including Paul Scott.
In the race for Secretary of State, Michelle McManus did very well. She garnered 404 votes; Sen. Cameron Brown, 311; Calhoun County Clerk Anne Norlander, 248; and Paul Scott, 212. So what is the deal with Paul Scott? He is a 26-year old freshman lawmaker with all of 9 months experience in elected office. Here is the inside story. The same organization that is "master-minding" the Snyder campaign has also recruited Rep. Scott, apparently convincing him that he is a viable candidate. So the word went out to the Snyder army that while voting for Snyder for governor, they should vote for Scott for SOS. Obviously, barely over half of them did. Get all the results here.That 'organization' later sent out an email spinning Scott's fourth place showing as a victory. It claimed that it was a spontaneous showing of support, rather than a highly orchestrated campaign.
Anyone who supports the tea party movement ought to remember this incident.