As Snyder Launches Town Hall Tour, Michelle Obama Plans To Stump For Schauer

Posted: Sep 30, 2014 5:00 PM

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder launched his town hall tour in Kalamazoo, which will be focused on touting the accomplishments his administration has made in Michigan. It will also be a forum for voters to discuss issues that matter to them most and what Gov. Snyder will do if re-elected this November.

Recently, Snyder released this ad featuring Linda Thaler, a retired teacher, who says that Snyder increased funding for education programs and “shored up” pensions for teachers. As an educator for 31 years, Thaler says she’s confident in Snyder’s record on education. But Democrats might have some fun cutting into it since Thaler is Snyder’s vacation home neighbor at Gun Lake.

Nevertheless, besides education, poor infrastructure will probably come up during this tour –and in the debates–as Michigan voters may not be willing for pay for a new gas tax; a tax Schauer hasn’t really ruled out on the campaign trail, according to the Detroit Free Press:

When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer took questions during a recent visit to a union hall in suburban Detroit, meat cutter Jim Mesich brought up a long source of frustration for Michigan drivers: crummy roads.

Why not, he asked Schauer, repeal a business tax cut and put all the money toward improving roads? Better that, he said, than asking "common guys" to pay more at the pump.

Schauer criticized Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for being unable to persuade the GOP-led Legislature to pass a road-funding fix and said Snyder's "trying to raise taxes on you" through proposed higher gasoline and vehicle registration taxes. But Schauer was less specific in detailing how he as governor would raise the minimum $1.2 billion more a year that Snyder said is needed to avoid drastic deterioration of roads and bridges.

Schauer, who voted for Michigan's last state gas tax hike as a freshman lawmaker in 1997, may be leaving the door open to another one. He criticized the idea when unveiling his jobs plan in July, but when asked this month by The Associated Press if he was ruling out gas tax or license plate fee increases, he said: "I'm just saying we have to do this fairly."

Both gubernatorial candidates agree something must be done.

In the meantime, Michelle Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plan to visit The Great Lake State this fall to stump for their party’s candidates; Christie was there last Friday as part of his month-long tour across the country campaigning for GOP gubernatorial candidates. Christie, along with Snyder, met with a group of entrepreneurs in a local coffee house that drew some protestors. "I love campaigning for candidates who have protestors. That means they're doing something," Christie said. He later attended a fundraiser for Snyder later that afternoon. As for Michelle Obama’s visit to help out Mark Schauer and Senate candidate Gary Peters, that’s to be determined.

Concerning engaging voters, Schauer and Snyder are heavily utilizing social media, although experts say they could be doing more. Snyder’s presence is described as “gubernatorial, positive, and slightly nerdy,” while his Schauer is “in attack mode, edgier, engaging, and often negative” (via Detroit Free Press):

"Both are very engaged, but they're using very different methods," said Nick De Leeuw, communications director for the public relations firm Resch Strategies and a Republican political operative. "They couldn't be more different."

"Schauer is far more aggressive than Snyder is in several ways right now, which kind of goes with his whole campaign," said Graham Davis, who is director of digital media at the public relations firm Truscott Rossman in Detroit and formerly handled social media for Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

De Leeuw, Davis and other social media experts say Snyder and Schauer are both doing a solid but unspectacular job of covering the basics on what is becoming an increasingly important element of election campaigns.

"Both are doing very well playing to their bases," said Kristin Sokul, a senior account manager at the Tanner Friedman public relations firm in Farmington Hills.

Both Snyder and Schauer are active on Facebook and Twitter and have YouTube channels where they post their campaign ads and some media interviews.

On the campaign side, Schauer has the numerical edge on social media with close to 40,000 likes on Facebook and more than 5,000 followers on Twitter, compared with more than 18,000 Facebook likes and fewer than 4,000 Twitter followers for Snyder.

But those numbers don't tell the whole story. Snyder also has Facebook and Twitter accounts he uses as governor, which by law can't be used for campaign purposes but do feature posts about government accomplishments. On his official sites, Snyder is ahead of Schauer with close to 60,000 Facebook likes and close to 38,000 Twitter followers. As governor, he also is active on Instagram and Google Plus, where he's held "Google Plus hang-outs" — online group chat sessions that can include voice and video — and has more than 308,000 followers on his official governor site.

"The official (social media) efforts provide a big boost to the campaign," De Leeuw said. In many ways, "the message is the same."

By the numbers, the Press added that Schauer has spent $150,000 on online advertising, $65,000 on Facebook, and $52,000 on Google. Snyder has spent $125,000 on social media engagement, with $15,000 going to Google and $7,000 on Facebook.