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Super Bowl Ads, Attack Ads and the Michigan Governor’s Race

February 10, 2010

In the past few days there has been plenty of coverage of candidates running for the Michigan Governor’s seat. The Democrats have a new candidate and the GOP field seems to be spending a great deal of time attacking each other.

However, let’s start with a look at the 60-second political ad that Rick Snyder ran during the Super Bowl. Snyder, a self-proclaimed venture capitalist, aired his first TV ad of the campaign. 

The Grand Rapids Press published a story about the ad in Monday’s paper. In this story, writer Jeff Cranson begins the story by talking about how people who attended a Super Bowl party he was at reacted to Snyder’s political ad. The story provides a very brief overview of the ad, but does not investigate any of the claims made by Snyder.

In Tuesday’s Press, political writer Peter Luke has an analysis piece on the same Snyder ad. Luke discusses the strategic merits of Snyder’s campaign message, which presents himself as a smart nerd and successful businessman in contrast to career politicians. However, Luke spends a great deal of time quoting John Weaver, Snyder’s campaign strategist instead of actually analyzing the candidate’s campaign.

Rick Snyder says on his website that Michigan needs to “re-invent itself,” not just fix it. Snyder has a 10-point plan that he believes can “create an era of innovation in Michigan.” The 10-point plan reads like a typical political campaign with lots of rhetoric and little substance.

The first point for Snyder is to Create More and Better Jobs. While no one would likely dispute the need for more jobs in Michigan, Snyder doesn’t really say how his administration would create more jobs other than reform the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Snyder also touts his own record of “creating jobs” as the former CEO of Gateway, but neither of these points are enough to guarantee employment for the tens of thousands of unemployed and underemployed in Michigan.

Another point in Snyder’s 10-point plan is to protect Michigan’s environment. Snyder’s White Paper on this matter primarily promotes tourism and developing new technologies & renewable energy. Snyder does not address water diversion, sulfide mining in the UP, or pollution caused by the coal powered electricity plants in Michigan. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of analysis you will find in the local news media at this point in the campaign season.

Other Candidate Coverage has posted two stories in the past few days about the announcement of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero as a Democratic candidate for the Governor’s seat. In both posting, there is no substantive information about what Bernero’s campaign strategy is, just that he has been a strong voice for auto workers in the past. also has a “guest column” by GOP candidate Mike Bouchard who says the state needs more public/private partnerships. Bouchard’s idea – turn the state’s rest stops over the private hands in order to make them “a productive, revenue-generating asset.”  There is also a story about Bouchard hiring a media consultant known for attack ads. The article is based on a story from the independent news source, the Michigan Messenger.

The Michigan Messenger article is a good example of the type of investigative reporting that would be beneficial to Michigan voters. This is in contrast to the weak articles that has run about GOP attack ad starting “too soon” or a story with the Snyder campaign responding to ads from the Cox campaign. What voters in West Michigan have not seen so far is much investigative coverage into the platforms and voting records of the numerous candidates running for the Michigan Governor’s seat.

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