DETROIT – Mark Schauer told the Labor Day audience that he’s running for governor to “make a difference,” while pointing out the differences between himself and his opponent, Gov. Rick Snyder.
“I’ve spent my life trying to build the lives of regular people,” said Schauer, a former congressman, state representative and state senator from Battle Creek, who ran a nonprofit that helped provide unemployed workers the tools to get back on their feet. “Rick Snyder says he makes the tough choices, but his choices aren’t working for all the people. His choices are wrong.”
Democrat Schauer, 52, is running a surprisingly competitive campaign against Republican Snyder, who emerged from the pack of gubernatorial candidates four years ago by proudly wearing the “Nerd” nametag, while pledging to govern like a moderate and work with groups like organized labor.
Snyder has governed like anyone but a moderate, and that’s likely why Schauer has been hanging close in the polls, even overtaking Snyder by two percentage points in an EPIC-MRA poll released Aug. 27. Not long after he took office, Snyder signed onto a tax shift that took $1.6 billion from senior citizens pensions and moved it into a $1.6 billion tax break for corporations. Snyder signed groundbreaking legislation that made Michigan the first state in the nation to permanently reduce unemployment compensation from 26 week to 20 weeks. Snyder governs a state that has improved economically along with the rest of the country, but still has the nation’s third worst jobless rate.
And in Michigan, the nation’s cradle of organized labor, “moderate” Rick Snyder gave the mother of all middle fingers to organized labor by signing a right-to-work law in December 2012 under the guise of improving Michigan’s economy. There is scant evidence that right-to-work laws do anything other than improve the presence of non-dues paying freeloaders in union workplaces.
“Snyder didn’t get tough on big business, but he did get tough on the middle class, he got tough on the labor movement,” Schauer told the Labor Day crowd. Schauer, a card-carrying Laborers union member, pledged to work to repeal right to work, repeal Snyder’s tax on senior pensions and restore the lost six weeks of jobless benefits. “As governor I will value the labor movement and all it’s done to build the middle class,” he said.
Schauer’s plans include restoring cuts made to K-12 education and universities, cutting taxes for the middle class, ending tax breaks for Michigan companies that outsource jobs, and launching a “Rebuild Michigan Campaign” that will seek to get more money out of Washington and leverage the $1.6 billion in tax breaks given to corporations and require them to “pay their fair share” to fix the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
“It is Sept. 1 and we are ahead in the polls and have all the momentum,” Schauer said. “Let’s show them that it’s as simple as this: when we vote, we win, and we take back our state.”