Millionaire investor Rick Snyder will be Michigan's 48th governor. He beat the Democratic nominee, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, by a wide margin. He also led a wave of G.O.P. victories across the state that cost Democrats clout in Congress and the Legislature.
Sting Of Defeat
Mark Gaffney, the president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, took the stage in front of an empty ballroom floor last night, the site of the Democratic election party in Detroit. He spoke to a few dozen onlookers hanging around the edges of the room.
"I'm going to give you a prediction," he said.
Gaffney told the subdued crowd that in two years people in Michigan and throughout the country will realize they made the wrong choices in electing Republicans.
"Unfortunately we know that today, but not everybody across the country, it doesn't look like they did tonight," he said.
The tone at the Democratic ticket party was somber. Meanwhile, Republicans swept the elections, winning the races for governor, secretary of state and attorney general, re-taking control of the Michigan Supreme Court, toppling congressional incumbents, and capturing commanding majorities in the Legislature.
Democratic nominee for governor Virg Bernero took the stage a little after 10:00 pm to concede defeat. Bernero says he hopes Governor-elect Rick Snyder will be a moderate who works well with Democrats.
"I promise I will partner with Rick Snyder and work with him hand-in-hand, and I'll call on you to support him as well," Bernero said. "But if that doesn't happen, you and I will be watching, won't we?"
"I know people are hurting, but we've all got to tighten our belts if we want to get out of this," says Kingsley voter who cast his ballot for Rick Snyder in the race for governor. Welke helped Snyder bury his opponent, and lead the Michigan G.O.P. to sweep offices in a record-setting election victory.
It left Bill Schuette, the Republican who won his race for attorney general, searching for superlatives: "Tsunamsi, tidal wave, monsoon, tornado, you know, it's a big, big win."
And, now Republicans have to live up to their promises. Rick Snyder has promised to cut taxes, bureaucracy, and regulation. He has also promised to do more to market the state, protect the Great Lakes and the environment, and fix struggling cities.
At the Republican victory party in Detroit, Snyder said that will require a new model for government.
"And what does that government look like? It's simple. It's customer service government. It's to create you, the citizen, as the customer," he says.
Snyder has big Republican majorities in the Legislature to back him, if he can keep his party together. But he also promised to work with Democrats and end the political gridlock in Lansing. He asked Republicans and others to reject labels that have divided people in Michigan.
"To make this work, there is only one label matters," he says. "That label is 'Michigander.'"
That's worked as a campaign slogan. Now, Rick Snyder gets to find out if his big ideas are a realistic plan for governing a state with some big problems.