Granholm has a recognizably liberal recovery plan: The state has borrowed $2 billion to be invested by people her administration calls ``independent job- creation experts.'' Translation: The $2 billion is a politically useful fund to be distributed to favored business executives.
DeVos is being attacked because, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party says, ``He supports free trade which has devastated the Michigan economy.'' So this race will preview what might be the highest stake in the 2008 presidential race -- repudiation of the basis of America's post-1945 prosperity. That basis was a bipartisan consensus in favor of free trade. That consensus has frayed, and by 2008 the Democratic Party probably will fully and formally embrace protectionism.
With 17 electoral votes, Michigan has recently been -- and in 2008 will again be -- a presidential election battleground state. In 2000, when Republican John Engler was governor, Al Gore defeated George W. Bush, 51-46. In 2004, when Granholm was governor, John Kerry defeated Bush, 51-48.
Another close presidential contest could turn on this state, in which the biggest city may be the nation's saddest, other than New Orleans -- and Detroit's condition is not the result of a natural disaster. Detroit's crime rate makes it second only to Camden, N.J., as America's most dangerous city. (Flint, Mich., is fourth.) Detroit has an adult functional illiteracy rate of 47 percent. A passionate advocate of school choice where schools are failing, DeVos knows he will be the object of passionate opposition from the teachers unions. But he says he operates on the assumption that this will be a close race, so if he wins, ``48 percent will have voted against me.''
United Van Lines, a winner from Michigan's losses, reports that last year the ratio of outbound to inbound moves was the state's highest since 1982, when Michigan's unemployment rate was 16.4 percent. DeVos tells audiences, ``I don't want to have to get on a plane to visit my grandchildren.'' He wants them to have to go to Lansing to visit grandpa.
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