LANSING, Mich. — On Sunday night, MSU students and voters across the state crowded around televisions to experience the sensory barrage of advertisements and football that is the Super Bowl.
Midway through the game, they witnessed a wetsuit and snorkel-adorned Gov. Rick Snyder emerge from a pool, pulling off his scuba mask as a narrator hails him as “the comeback kid” over a jazzy saxophone solo.
The commercial served as a preview of sorts to Snyder’s official announcement Monday that he will seek re-election as Governor.
Snyder spent the day kicking off his campaign — first in Detroit, then Lansing and later in Grand Rapids.
The governor likely will face Democrat and former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer in November, although primaries must solidify their place on the tickets of their respective parties.
During an event at Lansing-based business Two Men and a Truck, Snyder hailed the moving company as “a great success story about entrepreneurship in Michigan.”
Snyder’s remarks mirrored his State of the State address, highlighting economic statistics and initiatives that cast Michigan’s future in a hopeful light.
MSU political science professor Matt Grossmann said voters tend to associate positive economic conditions with the party of the president.
“Even considering that, (Snyder) will in part get judged on economic performance,” Grossmann said.
Grossmann said Schauer has not received much visibility, but his challenger has opportunities to emphasize his differences with the Governor and his legislative record as Snyder works to portray himself as a moderate.
A group of several dozen protesters gathered outside the headquarters, organized by various labor unions who oppose legislation passed during Snyder’s tenure that has placed a tax on some pensions and the Right to Work law that prohibited mandatory union membership.
Among the protesters was history senior Mikhail Filipovitch. He said he believes students will realize Snyder’s policies are not in their best interest.
“To me, how much we put towards education is probably going to be the most important issue,” Filipovitch said. “It’s become to such a point that it’s so unaffordable, what can you do?”
Under Snyder’s administration, appropriations to higher education have been significantly reduced. In his first fiscal year budget, MSU’s state funding was reduced 15 percent, more than $40 million. The next two years have seen modest increases of less than two percent each fiscal year.
“I’ve been hoping to improve upon that,” Snyder said when discussing the slow return of funding to Michigan universities. Snyder said the initial cuts to universities were a necessity because of the state’s $1.5 billion deficit his administration inherited.
On Wednesday, he will release his budget recommendation, which will suggest appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year in areas such as higher education.
See Snyder’s response to prioritizing higher education funding below: