Snyder touts his accomplishments at GOP Mackinac conference

MACKINAC ISLAND — Gov. Rick Snyder all but announced his plans to seek re-election Friday, unveiling a campaign-style video that touts his accomplishments and denouncing as “hogwash” questions about whether he wants to keep his job.

“We’re going to keep going and we’re going to reinvent our state,” Snyder told Republicans at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, held every two years on Mackinac Island.

That prompted chants of “four more years” from the partisan crowd.

Snyder listed promises he made during the 2010 campaign and matched them with accomplishments, including the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, the addition of more than 200,000 private-sector jobs since he took office, the passage of right-to-work legislation and confronting the financial crisis in Detroit.

“We said it; we did it,” he said. Later, Snyder told reporters that could be his campaign theme.

Snyder even urged attendees to sign his nominating petitions, due in April. But pressed by reporters after his speech, he insisted he had not made an announcement.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

The Snyder video unveiled at Mackinac was produced by Hollywood ad maker Fred Davis, who spoke at the conference Friday and was responsible for the “One Tough Nerd” Super Bowl ad that launched Snyder’s political career in 2010, said Snyder consultant John Yob.

It ends with Snyder saying into the camera: “It’s a nerdy job, but someone has to do it.”

Snyder came to Mackinac amid improving poll numbers, which analysts attributed to his successful push for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and his handling of the financial crisis in Detroit.

But the governor’s labeling of Michigan as “the comeback state” has been complicated by a still sluggish recovery. The state unemployment rate increased for three consecutive months, hitting 9% in August.

Democrats attacked Snyder over new taxes on pension income introduced in 2011, and for not providing enough state money for education, among other issues.

Snyder’s push for Medicaid expansion narrowly won approval in the Legislature in August and angered conservative members in the party’s tea party wing. But a rumored primary challenger to Snyder has not emerged at Mackinac and is not expected to, though tea party activist Wes Nakagiri announced plans to oust Snyder’s running mate, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, at the party convention next year.

Snyder told the crowd the expansion of Medicaid makes financial sense for Michigan. Acknowledging the disagreement, he said: “I hope you’re patient with us. We’re going to work through this and prove it to you.”

Snyder told the Free Press recently he doesn’t plan to make an announcement about his re-election plans until early next year. But most signs continue to point to him seeking a second term.

A website and Twitter and Facebook accounts used by the campaign were recently re-activated or newly opened. “Stay tuned…” said a tweet from Snyder’s campaign Twitter account Friday. Snyder has been actively fund-raising, too, though under Michigan campaign finance law, he won’t have to report those activities until early next year.

Linda Birgel of Gladwin, chairwoman of the Gladwin County Republican Party, said she thinks Snyder is doing a fantastic job, despite the fact she hasn’t agreed with him on every issue, like the Medicaid expansion.

“I would never not vote for someone on one issue,” Bircel said.

Thomas Houseman of Holland, a longtime party member and former chairman of the Allegan County party, describes himself as a Milliken Republican and believes Snyder has been too anxious to help the business community at the expense of other priorities, like education.

Former Gov. William Milliken, who served from 1969 through 1982, was seen as a moderate Republican.

“I had high hopes,” Houseman said Friday as he rode the ferry to Mackinac Island. “Right now, I have to deal with disappointment.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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