After eight years on the job, Rick Snyder will soon end his time as Michigan’s governor. On New Year’s Day, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will be sworn in to take over from the Republican who billed himself as One Tough Nerd.
Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition host Doug Tribou talks to Crain’s Detroit Business senior reporter Chad Livengood, and Michigan Radio’s resident political news junkie Zoe Clark about Snyder’s legacy as he prepares to leave office.
First year in office
Chad Livengood: Rick Snyder made this sort of pitch of One Tough Nerd. Time for an accountant to clean up Lansing. Get budgets passed on time. Reform the tax code. Try to get different businesses to come to the state, and really just change the political dynamics of Lansing that had always been defined by career politicians.
Zoe Clark: The Detroit of Chamber of Commerce on Mackinac Island. This is where all the business leaders come together…. I remember Gov. Rick Snyder walking in and you would’ve thought this guy was a rock star. Just this sense – at least from business leaders – that things were going to be different. That here was this governor, one of their own.
Detroit bankruptcy and comeback
Livengood: Rick Snyder really pushed people to limits. Yes, he got an emergency manager law people hated, and then it got repealed, and then they gave him a new one and then they used it to install this dictator-like person to take over the city of Detroit, but it was all meant to bring corporate financial order to the city of Detroit.
Flint water crisis
Livengood: The non-politician of Rick Snyder kind of did him in here. A politician who has a lot of empathy, who just sort of sees things and says, "What’s going on? Why is there brown water in Flint? What are we doing about it? I want it taken care of now." That person didn’t kick in when this problem really bubbled up.
Clark: One of the things that people say about the president is that they’re not just the commander in chief, they’re the sympathizer in chief, and he just never played that role during the Flint water crisis.