LANSING, Mich. (AP) — People close to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have formed a fund allowing him to travel the country to more aggressively tell of the state's rebound under his watch, raising the prospect of a potential Republican presidential bid.
A spokesman for the governor told The Associated Press on Friday that a 501(c)(4) group, Making Government Accountable, was established within the past month.
"Once we get into May, the governor will travel more out of the state and promote Michigan, particularly the remarkable economic comeback," Jarrod Agen said.
An aide close to the governor said Snyder is considering a presidential run and that a decision could be made in a few weeks. The aide was not authorized to speak publicly about Snyder's plans and requested anonymity.
The fund itself is not designed to be a campaign fundraising arm. Instead, it will help Snyder put out a "Michigan message about managing the budget, reducing pension liabilities and getting the debt down," the aide said.
Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak is raising money for the fund, according to multiple people active in state GOP politics. Schostak could not immediately be reached for comment Friday night.
Snyder has people raising money and is looking for staff, said a GOP donor who was not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions and requested anonymity.
The governor of a Midwest industrial state who bills himself as a practical decision-maker and a "tough nerd" turnaround artist, Snyder would not be a leading presidential contender should he run. But bottom-line Republicans could be impressed by the nearly 400,000 private-sector jobs created on Snyder's watch, an unemployment rate halved from 11.2 percent to 5.6 percent and a right-to-work law that made union fees optional.
Snyder also pushed his state's financially wrecked biggest city, Detroit, into federal bankruptcy court. A year and a half later, the city emerged with a lighter debt burden, though still facing many difficulties.
For now, Snyder is focused on urging Michigan voters to approve a sales tax increase on the May 5 ballot to help repair the state's deteriorating road and bridge infrastructure.
His support for a tax hike sets him apart from recent Republican White House prospects, who have aggressively opposed tax increases under any circumstances. His push also underscores the former computer company CEO and venture capitalist's approach to governing regardless of the political consequences.
Snyder's willingness to stray from conservative orthodoxy — he expanded Medicaid despite his party's stand against the health care overhaul and has vetoed abortion and gun legislation — would make him suspect to the GOP's right wing.
Unlike other Republican leaders, Snyder does not condemn President Barack Obama or his policies as part of an attempt to remain what he calls "relentlessly positive." Snyder's criticism is typically a broader critique of Washington's culture of political infighting.
Snyder will visit California to speak during an April 27 panel discussion on Detroit's bankruptcy at the Milken Institute's Global Conference. He will meet with media in New York City in early May.
"I wouldn't be surprised that people would want a problem-solver like Gov. Snyder on a national level. However, his focus is on Michigan and promoting Michigan," Agen said.
Until recently, the 56-year-old Snyder's travel was limited due to an Achilles tendon injury he sustained in January while jogging on vacation in Florida.
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