Just over a week after Michigan‚??s former Gov. Jennifer Granholm had a high-profile speaking role at the Democratic National Convention, Republicans in the Water Wonderland are almost universally asking “Why?”
The last Democratic governor of Michigan was featured as a speaker in Charlotte to underscore what Democrats consider their pivotal issue in capturing the state‚??s 16 electoral votes: namely, the bailout for two of the ‚??Big Three‚?Ě automobile manufacturers based in the state. Granholm, who was governor from 2002-10, pounded this home, as did later speakers including Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama in their acceptance speeches.
But, as several Michigan Republicans pointed out to Human Events last week, Granholm was an unusual messenger for them. With Michigan‚??s unemployment rate higher than the national average, Granholm left office — and promptly settled in California — as one of the state‚??s least popular governors. In 2010, Republicans not only won the governorship in a landslide but captured every state constitutional office on the ballot, a majority on the state supreme court, majorities in both houses of the state legislature, and two previously Democratic-held U.S. House districts.
‚??Her legacy in Michigan is of someone who ‚??blew us away‚?? and got out of Michigan as quickly as she could,‚?Ě said Saul Anuzis, Michigan‚??s former state Republican chairman and Republican National Committeeman.
Michigan economist Patrick Anderson, president of the Anderson Economic Group, went further. As he told Human Events, ‚??Gov. Granholm presided over unambiguously the worst economic performance of any state in the nation in the 2000s. Michigan is the only state in the nation to barely gain any population from 2000-2009 — 51st out of 50 states plus D.C. —¬† its credit rating tanked after it was AAA in 2000; and it ended up with the highest unemployment rate in the country (some cities actually had Great Depression -era rates of over 20 percent.)‚?Ě
Among Granholm‚??s policies pointed to by Anderson, which were responsible for this downturn are: ‚??shutting down the government for a few hours until a midnight legislature adopted a business tax increase; cutting higher education spending; pushing ‚??green jobs‚?? to the point of making the phrase one of derision in the state. The economy was so bad, that even with tax increases, the general fund shrunk.
‚??Gov. Granholm, confronted with this decline, did, well, what?‚?Ě
A lawyer and onetime guest on TV‚??s popular game show “The Dating Game,” Granholm was elected attorney general in 1998 and won a narrow bid for governor four years later against conservative Republican Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus. As the state‚??s economy was clearly headed south by 2006, the governor won re-election over Amway heir and billionaire Richard DeVos, Jr. In what could be called a shape of the campaigns to come, the Granholm campaign successfully painted DeVos as someone out of touch with middle-class voters and slammed him as a businessman who outsourced jobs overseas.
After returning to Michigan after her sabbatical in California, Granholm wrote a book and now hosts a cable TV program. She has now made her much-discussed convention speech. Given the lack of up-and-coming Democratic talent, more than a few Michigan political pundits were speculating that she is being boomed as a possible candidate for the Senate in 2014 if 36-year Democratic Sen. Carl Levin resigns.
Republicans just grin over that possibility.