Out of state perspective is a nice thing to have; they usually don't have a partisan dog in the hunt and are more apt to be honest about what they see. Huntsman brushed off the dust-up with the Kent County Republican Party over civil unions, and instead focused on the issue that everyone needs to pay attention to: the Michigan economy. With a massive wave of unemployment coming from the GM/Chrysler/supplier shut-downs that will occur this summer, we need to remember and remind people that we are on track to build a stronger state economy, and that it can't happen overnight. It's going to take time, but it will happen.
Weiser arranged for a meeting with West Michigan's big money Republicans. What does that tell you?
Without the original appearance, state party Chairman Ron Weiser arranged a private meeting for Huntsman with about 20 GOP faithful at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Among the group: former Italian Ambassador Peter Secchia, retail magnate Fred Meijer and former Perrigo CEO Michael Jandernoa.
In that room, Huntsman believes he saw a reason the state will rebound from the economic turmoil that has engulfed the auto industry and reached into pockets far beyond.
"These people, and others, have a tremendous amount of pride in their state and they believe and are willing to invest in its future," said Huntsman, often mentioned as a contender for the 2012 presidential nomination. "They want (Michigan) to be successful."
From his outsider's perspective, Huntsman said Michigan's economy is on track to a recovery, focusing on the health and energy fields much like the direction he has pointed toward in Utah.
That will lead to an influx of innovators developing -- not manufacturing -- commodities while keeping the best and brightest minds, he said. Wage-scale differences will always allow other countries an advantage over the United States in the manufacturing sector, Huntsman said.
True, but the argument can (and should) be made that we still need to manufacture in this country, for both reasons of economics and civil defense. If we don't, all it will take is a foreign crisis to throw this country into chaos - for a small example of that, Mexico is shutdown right now. It will be short and shouldn't disrupt our economy... but what if it were a prolonged event? And besides that, we do have American manufacturers that have shown they can be cost-competitive; MasTech/Windspire here in Michigan is a recent example. And we need those jobs. Not everyone is going to be an "innovator"; and we still have masses to employ in something other than the service sector.
Back to the main point though - the Republicans are going to try to use this economy against us in 2010. They came right out and admitted it at Huntsman's appearance in Oakland County. Now that Huntsman has validated our path, do you think those Republicans are going to admit that the Democrats have the right idea?
Oakland County Republicans say only one issue matters and that is the economy that has been shattering jobs for years.
"In Michigan, the key issue is economics" said David Law, chairman of Oakland County GOP. "Gov. Hunstsman's record in Utah is impeccable. (Kent County) decided on one thing and we're doing something else."
And this, from the guy who is going to challenge Gary Peters:
While social issues are apparently paramount for some in the party like Voorhees, others say only one issue matters for Republicans going into the 2010 election: Jobs.
"It's jobs and it's economy and it's life as we know it collapsing around us," said Paul Welday, a longtime strategist who is seeking 9th congressional district seat. "Whether Gov. Huntsman does or does not support civil unions really doesn't matter."
Wingnuts under the bus; the economy will be the focus for the GOP, with Obama, the governor, and the Dems as the targets. Democrats need to remind people who it was that pushed for progress on alternative energy and health care jobs for Michigan, and who it was that said "no" to all those things for the past two years (and longer) while they obstructed everything they could. How many jobs did it cost us by not having a business tax in place for the better part of an entire year? How many jobs did we lose by stalling on the RPS? Those two things are not to be taken lightly. They hurt us, and it was simple obstruction on the part of the Republicans that did it.
Don't let the stealth moderates in the GOP steal our thunder on economic issues. Things are going to get very scary here this summer, we need to hold on tight, get through this, and wait for some recovery to kick in.
It will happen. Let's hope it happens quicker than we think, and then the Republicans won't have a leg to stand on in 2010.