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Commentary

Gov. Snyder may wish he'd followed Mitt Romney’s lead

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Gov. Rick Snyder probably is not a big fan of Mitt Romney. Snyder wasn’t eager to campaign with him in Michigan this fall, which probably made political sense.

After all, Romney lost Michigan badly two years ago; Snyder has now been elected governor twice.

But I’m afraid that three years from now, Snyder may wish he had followed Romney’s lead on something. Twelve years ago, Republican Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts. He got much of his program through the Legislature, most notably his version of something that looked like the Affordable Care Act. But Romney then did not run for reelection.

This may have been because he felt he was unlikely to be reelected or because he intended to run for president. But he walked way undefeated and politically more or less undamaged.

Snyder might have done the same thing. He could have said, with justification, that he had accomplished nearly all of his goals. The business tax mess is fixed. The new bridge over the Detroit River lacks only federal funding for a customs plaza before shovels can go into the ground.

What if Snyder had instead spent his last year fighting to finally provide enough revenue to fix our disgraceful roads?

He might have gone out both a winner and a legend. Well, now the voters have – narrowly – given him another four years.

Politics can certainly surprise you. Nobody has any idea what the political climate will be four years from now. But there’s reason to believe that the best day of Gov. Snyder’s second term may be the first day, and that things may go downhill from there. In fact, for him, nothing may again be as good as election night. You can already see the signs.

For example:

The lawmakers are now meeting in their lame-duck session. Snyder, as far as I can tell, is interested in one thing: roads. He is hoping that with the election over, and at least a third of these lawmakers not coming back, that they may find the moral courage to raise taxes to fix the roads.

But that’s not what the Legislature is talking about – not yet, anyway. They’re squabbling over whether to extend the protections of the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to the gay and transgendered. As of now, it looks like this is going nowhere.

Yesterday, outgoing Speaker of the House Jase Bolger expressed support for adding “sexual orientation” to the civil rights act, so long as lawmakers also passed a state “religious freedom information act,” which some interpret as a way to allow discrimination against the LGBT community.

Within hours his idea was being denounced by the ACLU and other groups indignant that this would provide no protection for the transgendered.

This looks like it is going nowhere. The governor has to hate that they are talking about this instead of the roads. He also must know that he needs to get road repair done now.

Next term, with Gary Glenn in the Legislature and moderates like Randy Richardville gone, it may be all social issues, all the time. Just what Gov. Snyder hates. The next few years should be interesting. But they may not be much fun.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. You can read his essays online at michiganradio.org. 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.

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