Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is being term-limited out, and the men hoping to replace her are facing off in a primary today. Five Republicans and two Democrats are vying for a spot in the general election this fall, the first Michigan gubernatorial election since 1982 that won’t feature an incumbent or lieutenant governor. Here’s what you need to know:
1. It’s Freakin’ Close:
On the Republican side, the TPM Poll Average shows Attorney General Mike Cox (22.6%), Rep. Pete Hoekstra (22.3%) and Rick Snyder (19.9%) bunched near the top. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard is at 11.2%. An EPIC-MRA poll on Friday put the three frontrunners in a statistical tie.
On the Democratic side, the TPM Poll Average has Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero leading House Speaker Andy Dillon 34.9%-32.8%.
2. Rick Snyder Is “One Tough Nerd”
In February, Snyder, the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Gateway computers, made a splash with an ad that runs counter to the elite-phobic, of-the-people narratives pushed by so many candidates this year. The ad celebrates Snyder graduating from the University of Michigan with a BA, MBA and law degree by the age of 23, and having a plan for Michigan so detailed, “it’s likely no politician could even understand it.”
“It’s time for a nerd,” Synder says.
3. Mike Cox Hates The Health Care Law, And Is Dealing With The Ghost Of Kwame Kilpatrick
In March, Mike Cox was one of four Republican attorneys general running for governor in their states to join in lawsuits against the new health care law. Cox is a tough ex-Marine with a scar on his face — which he got in a knife fight in Puerto Rico.
Cox is also known for his role in the investigation of a long-rumored party supposedly thrown by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at the Mayor’s mansion in 2002. In 2003, Cox began investigating the reports that Kilpatrick had strippers there, but concluded the probe without finding any witnesses, saying the party “has all the earmarks of an ‘urban legend.’” The incident surfaced again last week, when an ex-con biker claimed in an affidavit that he had seen Cox getting a lap dance at the party. Cox called the allegations “bold-faced lies,” and suggested the affidavit was politically timed.
4. Dems Have A Name Recognition Problem
Granholm’s Lt. Gov. John Cherry dropped out of the race in January, leaving the field open for Bernerno and Dillon. But the Detroit News reports that nearly a third of Democratic voters are still undecided between the two.
5. Pete Hoekstra Is Really, Really Into National Security
He’s so into it, in fact, that after the Xmas Bomber case, Hoekstra, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, sent out an email to supporters denouncing the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism. Then he asked for money.
Bonus: As part of his campaign, Hoekstra has pledged to “work 100 jobs and bike 1,000 miles.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com