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Governor Snyder should resign. Here's why.

Jan 18, 2018

Credit Courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

If Governor Rick Snyder were prime minister of Great Britain, he’d have gone to the palace and resigned this morning. That’s because he lost what Parliament would have called a vote of no confidence, and lost it in spectacular fashion.

Both the state House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override Snyder’s vetoes on two bills. There are 90 Republicans in the legislature, and our Republican governor kept the support of precisely one of them. 

This was the first time in sixteen years that a governor’s veto has been overridden, and the first time it’s happened to an entire bill in more than forty years. Don’t be surprised if it happens again. Snyder’s clout is diminishing by the day.

That’s not all that’s going to happen to Snyder. Last week his budget director, Al Pscholka, resigned after less than a year on the job. Expect to see a flurry of other cabinet members and top aides resigning soon.

It isn’t hard to figure out why. They need jobs.

Snyder is a lame duck. He’ll be gone from politics, power, and Lansing forever next New Year’s Day. Given what happened with Flint, it is extremely unlikely that Snyder, who turns sixty this summer, has any political future.

By fall, as this year’s campaign heats up, you may not even see his name much in the news. But there is something he could do that would make himself very relevant, something that could dramatically change the course of politics this year – and might help accomplish his aims.

Next Monday, Rick Snyder should resign.

He should say something like, “I have appreciated the opportunity to serve the people and the state of Michigan, but it is time for me to return to private life.”

Suddenly, he would be popular again, and somebody Snyder flatly despises would be shook up. That someone is Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has been running hard for governor for years, and doesn’t mind making Snyder look bad.

As things now stand, Schuette is a clear favorite for the nomination. But that could change radically if suddenly, he’s facing not Snyder’s colorless understudy but Governor Brian Calley. It is always harder to run against an incumbent.

Democrats are likely to feel the same way. It might be brief, but Calley would enjoy some kind of honeymoon with the press and public. New governors always do.

There’s also an interesting precedent. Nearly half a century ago, a silver-haired, sixty-year old governor most of the way through his last term resigned in January, turning the office over to his lieutenant governor, who, like Calley, was a thin, dark haired man in his 40s. Few knew much about him, and he was seen as a temporary placeholder.

Democrats were itching to get the office back and gleeful at the thought of facing the kid in the next election. Almost fourteen years and three elections later, the kid was still there.

His name was William Milliken, and he remains the longest-serving governor in Michigan history. Calley isn’t Milliken. Even as an incumbent, he might not be favored in the primary.

But it would sure shake things up. Rick Snyder has about come to the end of his effectiveness as a chief executive. But if he did this, he’d be anything but irrelevant this year.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Senior Political Analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.