Candidate for gov. visits Keweenaw

HOUGHTON – The man who will likely face Gov. Rick Snyder in 2014 visited with Houghton Democrats Saturday.

Former U.S. and State Rep. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek spoke at 5th & Elm in Houghton Saturday during a visit to the Upper Peninsula.

Schauer, who lost a Congressional re-election bid in 2010, has secured endorsements from leading state Democrats, including United States senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and former U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak.

Schauer said he is concerned for the direction Michigan is headed. He pointed to cuts on education and tax increases on retirees and lower-income workers, contrasting them with a $1.8 billion tax cut for businesses.

“His same old tried-and-failed trickle-down economics isn’t working here in Michigan, and it’s hurting people,” he said. “The reason I’m running for governor is to make sure we have an economy that works for everyone, not just your wealthy, your corporate special interests or your well-connected. That’s Rick Snyder’s Michigan.”

While Snyder campaigned in 2010 as a non-partisan problem solver in the mold of former Gov. William Milliken, he’s repeatedly been beholden to his conservative base, Schauer said. As one example, Schauer cited the “skunk works” project, which would give students $5,000 electronic cards for charter schools run by for-profit educational companies.

Schauer also pointed to Snyder signing “right-to-work” legislation, which he had initially opposed as divisive. The moves have endangered low- and middle-income workers while also hurting Michigan economically, he said.

“Many of the decisions that Rick Snyder has made are putting Michigan on a path to compete for lower-wage, lower-skill jobs, not higher-wage, higher-skill jobs,” he said.

As a former legislator, Schauer said, he will be better able to work with the Legislature than Snyder. He pointed to Snyder’s troubles in being able to convince fellow Republicans to embrace federal Medicaid money.

“He had no experience with government,” he said. “He’s a corporate CEO, using that mentality as a corporate CEO, thinking that if he has an idea, everyone will just automatically do it. It doesn’t work that way. So we need a relationship with the Legislature and a leader in the governor’s office who will get things done with the Legislature that help Michigan.”

Schauer also said he would work to recommit to funding K-12 schools, making universities affordable for students and working with communities to strengthen the middle class.

Schauer came accompanying his wife, a Negaunee native who had family and high school reunions in the area. He said he has a personal connection to the Upper Peninsula, and the region will be important to him as governor.

“I think for a lot of downstate statewide politicians, the U.P. is an afterthought,” he said. “It’s a box to check. That won’t be the case for Governor Schauer. That’s a promise … the U.P. is something to be treasured, to be valued. It’s a prime economic asset for our state. Not just tourism, but for mining, forestry and so many ways. We want a governor that understands that, and values that.”