Interview: Will Michigan Voters Fire Rick Snyder? FireRickSnyder Organizers Talk to A2Politico.
On April 18, 2011 A2Politico posted a piece titled, “The Politics of Buyer’s Remorse: Group Files Petition to Recall Governor Rick Snyder.” The post was shared over 500 times on Facebook and Twitter. In that piece, I wrote:
When Republican Governor Rick Snyder took office, he had stellar approval ratings. He coasted along during his post-primary campaign on a carpet of money (his) and support from Michigan Democrats and Independents attracted to Snyder’s say-little, feel-good 10-point plan to “reinvent” Michigan and put Michigan “back to work.” Now, some six months after the November elections, Snyder’s approval ratings are among the lowest of any of the Republican governors elected this past November. Approval ratings for most of the new Republican state leaders have fallen since November 2010, but none so quickly and as far as the approval ratings of Rick Snyder.
Snyder, who told The Detroit News in December 2010 that he had no intention of trying to target organized labor, 60 days later championed a piece of legislation that has been described by national news pundits as “fascist.” Snyder’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) law, HB 4214, passed in March and was signed into law. The Utne Reader published a piece titled, “Fascism comes to Michigan,” on March 16, 2011.
In the interim, Michigan’s governor has taken a beating in the national press for proposing to raise taxes on poor working families and retirees to finance $1.8 billion dollars in tax cuts for business, for reducing the number of weeks of unemployment in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the country, and for cutting funding to K-12 and higher education.
A recent poll on A2Politico that asks whether voters still support Rick Snyder shows that over 75 percent of the Dems who responded who had voted for Snyder no longer supported him, and 60 percent of the Independents who’d voted for him, and who responded to the poll, no longer supported Mr. Snyder. Interestingly, well over half of the Republicans who’d voted for him and who voted in the poll said they no longer supported Rick Snyder.
A recent A2Politico piece about the political and financial support Snyder enjoyed while running, and still enjoys among Ann Arbor Democratic politicos and well-known Dems-about-town, sparked a fierce debate on another blog—written by Ypsilanti blogger Mark Maynard. According to reporting from WEMU, the Ypsilanti City Council recently passed a resolution whereby the group condemned the Governor’s expanded Emergency Financial Manager law and his proposed budget. It’s unlikely, given Snyder’s close ties to Ann Arbor Democrats who have been busy praising the EFM legislation, rooting around for government jobs, state money, and an almost pathological need to rub elbows with Snyder, that our own City Council will pass a similar resolution.
Jack Lessenberry recently published an essay in which he suggests the recall effort is quixotic. He proposes a different strategy:
Everyone should have seen this coming. However, there’s another huge piece of this that everyone is missing. There is another, easier way to stop these policies. Contrary to popular opinion, Rick Snyder cannot pass laws all by himself. Matter of fact, he can’t pass them at all. The Legislature has to approve any laws.
Recalling a legislator is much, much easier. You can get a recall election against just about any state representative by filing 10,000 signatures in their district. Knock off nine Republicans, replace them with Democrats, and Snyder has lost control of one house.
Would that be easy? Not very. But targeting all 20 seats the Repubs took from the Dems last November would be far easier than recalling the governor … if not as exciting or sexy.
As it turns out, Lessenberry’s essay also included some factually incorrect information. However, it’s clear that the citizens involved in the drive to recall Rick Snyder are three steps ahead of Lessenberry. As of yesterday, they also had 15,000 more friends on Facebook than Lessenberry did, as well.
A2Politico interviewed FireRickSnyder.org. It is the first interview of its kind the group has given.
A2Politico: Who are the organizers of firericksnyder.org and the PAC Michigan Citizens United?
FireRickSnyder.org: An adhoc group of people who met in a Facebook discussion forum. When it became clear that the only way we could do something, instead of just waiting for four years of disaster was to organize a Political Committee (Michigan Citizens United) with the Secretary of State, and begin organizing an effort to recall Rick Snyder and key people who have rubber-stamped his policies.
A2Politico: Because the PACs Treasurer, Gail Schmidt, is an employee of the MEA, there has been speculation that the MEA has launched this recall effort. That’s a bit of a stretch, of course. Certainly, unions get involved in politics through their own political funds, action committees, etc….Has the MEA or any other education union affiliate or national office expressed support of this recall effort? Have you asked the MEA’s political action committee for its financial help/support?
FireRickSnyder.org: We have been frustrated by the lack of official support from the MEA and many other unions. We have had very good support from individual union members and even a few staffers, such as Gail. We do understand that the unions are reluctant to endorse a recall attempt, but at least their members seem to be supporting the effort with their time and their own money. Yes, we have asked the MEA and many others. So far the results are a lot of good wishes, but not much in the way of overt support.
A2Politico: I’ve been waiting to hear from Mark Brewer, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, who spent a good deal of time between August and November 2010 sending out fundraising emails to Dems in Michigan warning about how “dangerous” Rick Snyder was. Has the Michigan Democratic Party reached out to the firericksnyder/Michigan Citizens United PAC? Have you asked the Michigan Democratic Party for its financial help/support?
FireRickSnyder.org: Again, we have asked, but have not received response or even acknowledgement. I suspect this is because of the reluctance of established political parties to involve themselves in recall campaigns. Both parties have been targeted for recalls in the past, and both parties tend to keep their distance from recall campaigns.
A2Politico: You have 90 days to gather 1.1 million signatures. That’s 11,000 people collecting 100 signatures each, say. How many volunteers do you have at the moment?
FireRickSnyder.org: Our organization is still growing. We have almost 17,000 supporters on Facebook and have had several thousand people volunteer on our website. We know some of these mean well, but may not be very effective, but new volunteers are joining every day. Once petition signing begins we expect to see a large surge in volunteers. That is why we are building organizational units in each county to coordinate the efforts and provide leadership and guidance to the petition circulators.
A2Politico: You’ve said you need $250,000 for this campaign. What will your largest expense be? Are you planning to pay professional signature collectors, as well as rely on volunteers?
FireRickSnyder.org: We hope to do it all with volunteers. A large part of the budget is to pay for commercial ad time to counter some of the very polished and expensive broadcast and print ads we expect will be mounted against our efforts. The people who financed the November victories have a history of spending very large amounts for very effective, professional ads. We must respond on the air to some of them, or we will find people falling away from their commitments of support.
A2Politico: The recall effort was launched primarily in response to the passage of the expanded EM legislation. That law is set to be challenged in federal court, U.S. Representative Conyers has said he will ask the U.S. Attorney General to challenge the Constitutionality of the law. If the law were struck down, would you stop the recall effort or continue on with it?
FireRickSnyder.org: At this point we are convinced that these elected representatives are unfit to lead this state. They have proven that they are willing to work quickly behind closed doors to avoid public debate and discussion. The laws they have passed have been ill-conceived and appear to be written by people who do not have the best interests of Michigan and its people at heart. No! The recall will not be halted if the law is struck down.
A2Politico: In Wisconsin, voters there are working to recall Republican state representatives, as well. Any plans to pursue the recall of Michigan state representatives as well as the state’s governor?
FireRickSnyder.org: We have already begun submitting petition language for clarity hearings for at least 20 of the 26 Senators who have been voting lockstep with Snyder. We hope to find people in each of the 26 Senate districts to file recall petitions for all of them. So far there are people willing to work on 10 of the State Reps – of course the sponsor of the EFM bill in the House, Al Pscholka, has already had language to recall him submitted for clarity – that hearing is on May 9th in Berrien County.
A2Politico: Since 1920, two governors have been recalled in the United States, the last in 2003 in California. Do you see this recall effort as a long shot?
FireRickSnyder.org: Of course it will be a challenge, but this guy has done a lot in a very short time to alienate a very large portion of people who voted for him, and his actions have energized a lot of complacent voters who stayed home on election day. I doubt they will make the same mistake again. Nobody makes history without attempting something that seldom succeeds.
A2Politico: Are you worried that Governor Snyder will dump as much of his personal fortune ($5 million dollars) into saving himself from recall as he did to get himself elected?
FireRickSnyder.org: I have little doubt. There will also be a lot of money poured into very slick television spots, direct mailings, and sequential calling campaigns by groups from out of state whose sources of funds are difficult to trace – but supposedly not related to the candidate (or office holder, in this case) and not authorized by his campaign committee. These are vicious campaigns that are normally used to discredit candidates running against the ones who are now facing recall by real, blood pumping, air breathing citizens of Michigan who have had enough.
A2Politico: There are recall efforts afoot in Wisconsin and Illinois to rid those states of their Republican governors. Do you see what you’re doing as a part of a national effort, or a more localized response?
FireRickSnyder.org: Ours is a localized response, but it is, by its very nature, related to their local efforts. Certainly not as tightly related as the apparent relationship between all of the recall targets in all of the states. We offer advice and moral support to each other, but we are totally separate efforts of local citizens in each constituency. We are not financed or controlled by any national organization. We are each financed by our own blood-pumping citizens as mentioned above. That distinction is important. We are true grassroots organizations made up of and financed by humans, not corporations.
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