Wouldn't it be incredible if the race for governor this year came down to a three letter word…cut. As in Gov. Rick Snyder cut education by one billion dollars.
Come on. Your logical self tells you one little word can not carry that much power. But to a degree in the 2006 race for governor the word "shipped" did just that. As in Dick DeVos shipped Michigan jobs to China.
Never mind that the charge distorted reality. DeVos defenders explain what he did was lay off workers in Michigan and created jobs in China which is not the same as putting Michigan workers on a slow boat to China.
Yet the Democrats exploited the issue, played into the citizen's sinophobic fear that China was sucking up all our jobs, and the DeVos campaign never crafted the right message to debunk the "shipping" charge.
Team Snyder hopes not to make the same miscue which is why the governor says, "I increased education spending by a billion dollars over the last three years."
So the race at this early juncture features the gov's billion dollar boost to Mark Schauer's billion dollar cut. And how the public reacts will have an impact on the eventual outcome.
The bad news for the governor is the Democrats have a three year head start on pounding this "he-cut-education" drum. But Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) who is running the campaign for Republicans in the house says the message does not resonate with voters.
But the Snyder folks are not taking any chances only to wake up the day after the voting to find out it cost him the election. Hence somebody woke up in the Snyder camp and decided he needed to counteract the assault like right now.
Which is why when the Democratic Governor's Association ran a second commercial for their guy touting the billion dollar cut, the Snyder brain trust found some attorney who dashed off a snarly letter to the TV stations asking them to kill the spot.
Because it was a "malicious attack ad," wrote barrister Charles Spies. He also included a thinly veiled threat that somehow if the stations didn't yank the spot, it might impact the station's "FCC licensing requirements." (None of them did.)
Mr. Spies apparently didn't get the memo that Team Snyder was using the billion dollar figure because he wrote that "since Snyder took office, state funding for education has increased by $800 million with increases every year since taking office." A minor miscue but a messaging blunder none the less.
And then he starts to explain how the "cut" was something "Snyder had no control" over in that part of the deduction was due to the Obama administration shutting off federal stimulus money for the schools.
But here in lies the challenge for the governor. He has to explain all that to an electorate with an attention span of a nat while Mr. Schauer can continue to thump the governor for "cutting education by a billion dollars."
The governor has tried to regain the offense by offering a 3% increase in K-12 funding this year. So he can say, I'm spending more on schools, while Mr. Schauer has to explain that even with the increase the schools are still behind the inflationary eight ball.
At this point in the column eyes are glazing over. In your defense all this is a tad confusing as you attempt to sort out the "he-said-he-said" rhetoric. But it underscores the notion that the little word "cut" means a lot and unless the Snyder gang gets this right, it could join the DeVos folks in the history books as the candidate who lost the messaging war and thus the election.