Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has been one of the shining stars of the 2010's Republican gubernatorial class. He has scored conservative victories like controversial right-to-work legislation, but he's also tacked toward the center on other issues like Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
Terri Lynn Land served eight years as Michigan secretary of state, a well-liked political insider with an excellent paper resume for a Senate candidacy. She is one of the key cogs in the GOP's efforts to turn the the upper chamber over this fall.
They sound like natural allies. So where's the love? Snyder's campaign wouldn't discuss their relationship. Land's campaign initially told TPM that the candidates would appear together at an event this Saturday, but then reversed, saying it had been a mistake. It's all a bit inexplicable as Republicans look to score important electoral victories in a state that tends to go blue when the races are statewide.
"Detached." That was the word of choice when Michigan political observers were asked by TPM about the relationship between Land and Snyder.
Their campaign appearances so far can be a little tough to pin down. The Land campaign pointed to a recent appearance in Traverse City, in an apparent reference to the National Cherry Festival last month, though it didn't respond when asked if Land and Snyder had actually appeared at the same place at the same time. The Land campaign also pledged "multiple joint events" in the future despite the Saturday event mix-up.
"Terri Lynn Land and Governor Snyder are committed to moving the state forward," the Land campaign said in a statement. The Snyder campaign declined to comment on the record.
Bill Ballenger, a former GOP state legislator and long-time political analyst at Inside Michigan Politics, contrasted the Land-Snyder relationship with another incumbent GOP governor who helped a fellow Republican snag an open Senate seat 20 years ago.
Then-Gov. John Engler handpicked Spencer Abraham to run alongside him in 1994 for Michigan's Senate seat, and the pair appeared together constantly on the campaign trail. Engler won re-election with a resounding 62 percent of the vote, while Abraham took 52 percent and an improbable spot in the Senate, one he would lose six years later to Debbie Stabenow with an Engler-less ballot.
"Engler did everything he could to help Spencer Abraham. They were the opposite of Snyder and Land," Ballenger said. "She's just not somebody who's going to underscore his strengths. She's not a soul mate. When you had Engler and Abraham, you had two guys who were everything wrapped up into two. In Snyder and Land, you've got a bifurcation. Just a totally different situation."
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