National politics tend to energize a majority of Hillsdale College students, but with the Michigan gubernatorial race gearing up for the Aug. 7 primary and the general election Nov. 6, it’s time for students to turn their attention toward the principles and solutions of the 18 candidates vying for governor.
The race is particularly interesting because it’s a microcosm of national politics today, with shoe-in establishment candidates challenged by candidates with grassroots support.
“The governor’s race to me seems like a mini-United States battle. It’s really representative of the country’s feelings in general,” said Cal Abbo, freshman supporting Abdul El-Sayed. “In the Republican party, there’s this battle between actual conservatism and establishment, and the same thing exists within the Democratic party.”
The big issues Michigan faces include: infrastructure, healthcare, the Flint water crisis, and tax reform. Every one of these issues is also present in the town of Hillsdale, from the pot-holed roads under construction to the city’s economic struggles.
Brendan Noble, a senior and campaign intern for Patrick Colbeck, first met Colbeck in 2010, when Noble was 14 years old and volunteering on his first Senate. He said Colbeck is a grassroots conservative competing against Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, the moneyed establishment.
Noble said Colbeck has a plan to cover a 15 percent increase in road-building costs to pay for higher quality materials that would triple the lifespan of roads without raising taxes. He said it would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars over time.
“He has specific proposals, he has a really in-depth — sometimes too in-depth — idea of how to fix things, and I don’t see that from a lot of the other candidates,” Noble said.
Moy was involved in Schuette’s bid for attorney general in 2010. Moy said Schuette has increased investigations on cold rape cases, opposed federal overreach under the Obama administration, and identified corrupt officials during the Flint water crisis and Detroit’s bankruptcy. He is also the only major gubernatorial candidate who endorsed Trump in 2016.
With his #PaycheckAgenda, Moy said, Schuette promises to increase apprenticeship programs, roll back excessive Jennifer Granholm-era regulations, and fight for opioid victims.
Abbo likewise framed the Democratic race in terms of establishment politics versus real commitment to progressive positions. Gretchen Whitmer, the former minority leader in the state senate, is seen as the shoe-in because of a lack of state democratic leadership.
This tension revealed itself when top executives at Blue Cross encouraged their employees to donate to Gretchen Whitmer, since a health insurance company wouldn’t support single-payer healthcare.
El-Sayed was the director of the public health department in Detroit during the Flint water crisis but resigned to start his campaign in January 2017. His campaign frames his approach from a public health perspective, meaning single-payer health care and a strong Flint water policy are important stances for him.
Abbo said El-Sayed stands out for his well thought-out, uncompromising stances and the fact that he’s not a part of the business class, unlike Whitmer and other Democratic candidates.
During the presidential election, Michigan was a swing state, with 10,000 votes tipping Trump to victory. Even though most of us are transient students planning to leave after graduation, it’s important to know that Michigan’s politics do affect national ones. Even if this isn’t our home, to borrow from Noble, we should look outside our Hillsdale bubble.