Rick Snyder campaigned primarily in 2010 on his credibility as a businessman. He wanted to fix, not fight; optimize, not antagonize.
Snyder also campaigned, however, as someone interested in getting past labels and promoting shared solutions. He pledged to seek that often-sought, yet never-quite-reached bipartisanship. In Michigan, the political divide between Republicans and Democrats plays out in the work world as a divide between business/management (Republicans) and labor (Democrats. Those lines aren't as stark as they once were, but they still exist.
So, in light of all this, an e-mail that hit my inbox today struck me as a tad odd.
It came from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and included an invite to an event (cost $35) on Jan. 20 to hear Gov. Snyder give a "State of the State Address to the Business Community."
"After the Governor speaks, you'll have a chance to discuss the issues that matter most to businesses during a moderated Q&A session," it read.
Now, governors give speeches to various professional and community groups all the time. So maybe this is just a matter of nomenclature: "State of the State Address to the Business Community" strikes me as less than unifying, especially since it will occur a couple of days after Snyder gives his official State of the State Address before the Legislature. It's like Michigan is a nightclub and the public gets in, but the business community and the governor are in their own special VIP space protected by red velvet ropes.
The past year was great for the Snyder administration in getting policy changes enacted into law. But 2011 was not so great for Snyder on the image side of things. He won big at the polls in 2010. He started his first year with decent approval ratings -- ratings that fell steadily as he governed. As few as 1 in 5 Michiganians may approve of his work right now.
Part of that, I think, is that there are plenty of Michigan voters who have watched Snyder govern and concluded that he's governing not just with a business-style approach, but with a business-only agenda. He's a governor of part of the state.
Maybe they're wrong, but the impression is real. And I don't think speeches billed as "State of the State Address to the Business Community" is going to help matters much on the perception front.