Mark Schauer on fundraising challenges, gay rights and the takeover of Detroit

As of this last January, before even announcing his intention to run for re-election, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder already had approximately $4 million in his campaign war chest. Money on the right, it would seem, is relatively easy to come by, when you’re willing to bring the likes of Scott Walker, Jed Bush and Chris Christie into the state to appear alongside you at high-dollar fundraising dinners. On the other side of the aisle, though, the dynamic is a bit different. The wealthy donors are considerably more scarce, and, as a result, we see things like this Thursday evening’s fundraiser at Ann Arbor’s Arbor Brewing Company for Democratic candidate for Governor Mark Schauer, where a mere $25 will get you in. This, as you can imagine, presents significant challenges. While Snyder can afford to air ads during the Super Bowl declaring himself the “comeback kid” (in spite of the fact that Michigan, at the same time, was 49th among the states in projected job growth), Schauer is seeking public funding for his campaign, at least through the August primary. (Schauer has requested close to $1 million in public funding. If it’s offered and accepted, it would mean that he can only spend a total of $2 million through the primary season.) The obstacles for a candidate like Schauer are immense. But there’s an up-side as well. Because Schauer has to work harder for every dollar, and every vote, he actually invests the time to talk with the likes of me.

What follows is a very short exchange between me and the man I hope will be the next Governor of Michigan, Mark Schauer. As time was tight, we didn’t have an opportunity to delve into subjects too deeply, but my hope is that one day soon I’ll have a chance to follow up and dig deeper into these, and other, issues.


MAYNARD: We’d like to think that elections are about ideas, but they’re often more about money. And the person with the best ideas doesn’t always win, especially when the other side has the ability to blanket the public airwaves with ads that, to put it kindly, distort the truth. One suspects, as Snyder has allowed wealthy Michiganders like Dick DeVos to pursue their aggressive conservative agenda unchallenged, that he’ll have their continued financial support during the election. Furthermore, we can assume that Snyder will continue to pull money from out-of-state conservatives, like the Koch brothers, who helped bankroll the successful campaign to make Michigan a so-called right-to-work state. How can you effectively compete against a candidate who has those kinds of resources?

SCHAUER: Rick Snyder has powerful friends. Dick DeVos, Donald Trump, and the Koch brothers are all supporting Snyder. Having said that, Dick DeVos spent tens of millions of his family fortune in 2006, and proved that the candidate with the most money doesn’t always win.

There’s no question we will be outspent in this election, but make no mistake, we will have the resources we need to communicate our message and win this November. That’s why small fundraisers for grassroots supporters are so important – because there are more of us than them.

MAYNARD: This year’s Netroots Nation convention will be held in Detroit, in mid-July. How do you intend to capitalize on that fact?

SCHAUER: It’s a great opportunity for Michigan to showcase two national races for Governor and U.S. Senate. We’re still working out the details, but I expect to participate in at least one panel discussion, and meet with some national bloggers to talk about what’s at stake in this election. Rick Snyder has managed to fly under the radar nationally, but he’s cut from the same cloth as Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Scott. This is our opportunity to shine a bright light on how Snyder’s policies are hurting the middle class and seniors.

MAYNARD: I’m not sure how familiar you are with my website, but, among other things, I occasionally interview people as they leave the Ann Arbor – Ypsilanti area. Just recently, I was conducting one of these exit interviews with a lesbian couple leaving the state for Seattle, and, in response to one of my questions, they essentially said that they didn’t want to live in a state in which they weren’t valued and respected, as evidenced by the passage of recent legislation targeting not only the LGBT community, but women in general. I’m curious what you would say to others who might be on the fence, considering leaving the state.

SCHAUER: I would tell them that help is on the way. I understand their frustration, but that’s why this election is so important. There is a clear contrast in this race. Rick Snyder is out of touch, and his policies are hurting Michigan women and the LGBT community. Whether he was signing extreme anti-choice legislation, or wasting taxpayer dollars to defend Michigan’s discriminatory ban on marriage equality, it’s clear this governor just doesn’t get it.

If you want a sense of how I’ll govern, take a look at my running mate, Lisa Brown. Lisa was an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights in the Legislature, and as Oakland County Clerk, she was one of three clerks in the state to issue marriage licenses to loving, committed same-sex couples. Lisa and I share the same values and vision for Michigan. And as governor, I’ll fight to make sure women earn equal pay for equal work, and I’ll fight to make Michigan a marriage equality state.

MAYNARD: Given that it’s become nearly impossible to legislate at the federal level due to Republican obstructionism, it seems like the states are becoming increasingly more important. And, over the last several years, under Snyder, we’ve seen how effective a party can be when it dominates a state. Among other things, we’ve passed one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion bills. We’ve passed legislation that ensures handpicked Republican judges hear cases brought against the state by citizens. We passed right-to-work legislation, which, just a few years previously would have been unthinkable. We’ve brought the term “rape insurance” to the American discourse… Assuming you win the Governorship, but that Democrats fail to win the House and Senate, what can we realistically expect to happen in terms of rolling back some of this legislation from the far right?

SCHAUER: I think Democrats are poised to pick up seats in both chambers this year. But regardless of which party holds a majority in the legislature, electing a Democratic governor would be an important first step to start undoing the damage we’ve seen over the past four years.

I’ve always been someone who can work across the aisle to get things done. I’m not running for governor just to wear out a veto pen, but I’ll use it as leverage to advance an agenda that helps to grow and strengthen the middle class.

MAYNARD: A few days ago, you made the following statement about Detroit. “It’s time for Detroiters to lead Detroit,” you said. What did you mean by that?

SCHAUER: We have a new democratically-elected mayor and city council in Detroit, and I think they should be leading Detroit’s day-to-day turnaround efforts. Kevyn Orr doesn’t live here, and when his contract expires, he’ll move back to his home in Maryland. We need Detroiters who have a vested interest in the city’s future leading the city, and they should be accountable to voters. That’s how democracy is supposed to work.

If you’d like to contribute toward Mark’s campaign for Governor, you can do so either on his site, or by way of Act Blue. And, if you have the time on Thursday evening, do consider registering here, and coming out to meet Mark at Arbor Brewing. It should be a good event.

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  1. Posted May 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    I hesitate to print this interview and it’s so woefully incomplete… I didn’t even have a chance to talk about the impact that having the minimum wage on the ballot might have… but I wanted to share it as I think it demonstrates Schauer’s willingness to engage. Yes, it’s not terribly deep, but I think it speaks volumes that he’d invest the time with an Ypsilanti blogger like yours truly.

    Let’s hope that this was just our first discussion, and that others will follow.

  2. Posted May 13, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    And, assuming we do have an opportunity to talk again, do let me know what you’d like for me to ask him. I have a list.

  3. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    First I would ask him, if you were governor, what will you do to put an immediate halt to all fracking done in our state, which puts every man women and child in Michigan, as well as our precious water and natural beauty in serious existential danger? Once you are elected, how will you prove that you wont simply take advantage of the adhoc fiscal totalitarianism set up by your democracy-disdaining predecessor? If you are elected, how will you disentangle Michigan’s polity from the influences of plutocratic corperate Ubermensch not beholden to the wellbeing of Michiganders, but exclusively with lining the pockets of ruthless shareholders? How will you deconstruct every anti-social law our recent fascist legislature has undemocratically imposed upon the people of Michigan, including the fascist emergency management, right-to-work, and draconian anti-abortion laws? How will you put a stop to the egregious school-to-jail pipeline which only benefits our disgustingly corrupt for-profit prison system, at the expense of generations of failing students? How will you as govenor clean up the 40 square miles of abandoned buildings around Detroit, which have created a haven for a pernicious criminal element? How will you fight the anti-gay bigotry enshrined in our state constitution, which the cruel population of Michigan voted for? How will you as governor help to reinvent Michigan against the nihilistic trend of post-industrial decay and “service economy” which makes our state a serfdom for the plutocratic class?

  4. 734
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    My sense, and I haven’t seen recent polling data to confirm this, is that he’s still not connecting with Michigan voters. They don’t know who he is. I’d like to know how he intends to break through without a massive advertising budget.

  5. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Its a nice short interview Maynard, but if I had anyone running for high office in the US within my clutches for five questions there is no way I would let them go so easy. In particular I would definately want a sense of their philosophical temperment beyond political issues, and I would want them to sweat. In-the-last-instance this is a person attempting to gain power within the world’s worst occult ‘ol’e boys club’, the driver behind the largest global exctinction event since the death of the dinosaurs 64M years ago, and the nihilistic profiteers off the utter decreating of the Earth. To be a govenor of a US state during Late Capital is to be polishing brass on the Titanic.

  6. anonymous
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I’d like to know what he thinks Snyder is vulnerable, and how he intends to attack that vulnerability.

    I’d also like to know how he intends to help Michigan’s aging cities, like Ypsilanti.

  7. Craig Tramel
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    It’s good to start a dialogue with the man who could one day be Governor of our state, but I know what you mean about it being frustrating. When you ask about campaign financing, and he says not to worry, that he’ll get his message out, it demands a follow up. You have to ask how he intends to do that. I know there are examples of well financed candidates losing, but I’d like to know the strategy he intends to follow in order to win. How will he leverage free resources and earned media, etc?

  8. Kim
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Ask about the health of Lake Michigan. Specifically, I’d like to know what he thinks of the Indiana refinery that was in the news not too long ago.

  9. Mr. Y
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Are we certain that the minimum wage will be on the ballot, and if not how do we ensure that it is? Also, while I love “help is on the way,” I’d love to know specifics. What will he do on day one?

  10. Posted May 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Well OF COURSE I have teacher questions!

    Study after study indicates that smaller classroom sizes make a big difference to kids, especially those in poverty/high needs. For a variety of reasons (and we can debate these later), we are including more and more kids in classrooms–kids with significant behavioral problems (running away, biting, spitting, attacking), kids with significant cognitive problems (IQs < 70) and so on. This is not prima facie (fancy words FTW!) bad thing but it does put much strain on already overcrowded classrooms. Given the current budget situation, what do we do to make classrooms work for everyone (hint: co-teaching, i.e. a general education teacher and special education teacher in classrooms).

    Next, too many kids are not finding what they need in high school. What do you see as the role of vo-tech type programs? What about "farm tech" programs (like vo tech but you would train to be a farmer)? How do we increase these programs and other alternative education choices rather than keep going with the "COLLEGE FOR EVERYONE!11!1" thing we have going on now.

    Speaking of college…the Michigan Merit Curriculum is making it very difficult for a lot of kids (esp. special education students) to graduate. Instead, they are getting what is called a Certificate of Completion. My latest student to earn this has found out that she can't go to her local college (it dropped "community" and won't accept CoC) and can't get financial aid anyway. Do you have plans to modify the MMC requirements?

    And speaking of requirements…Michigan has virtually no requirements for people who want to "home school" their children. A parent can simply pull her/his kids out, tell the truant officer that s/he is "homeschooling" and we are done. No more oversight, no mandatory tests, nothing. The parent could be a scholar from Harvard who gets the kids to learn 8 languages and 10 kinds of math or a meth manufacturer who lets the kids play video games all day. Since we are all about education, how can we ensure that these students are getting an education? (And not getting, say, locked in the house with no proper nutrition or medical attention such that their eyes don't get the drops they need and their vision worsens. Just as an example.)

  11. EOS
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Once again, Teacher Patti shows her narrow focus of self-interest. Classrooms full of students with significant behavioral problems and low I.Q.’s are the least likely to benefit from more educational spending. Those who can’t get a high school diploma or GED should not be encouraged to attend college. The Michigan Merit Curriculum is working by not giving diplomas for attendence alone, but by requiring at least minimal achievement.

    Homeschoolers are thriving. With online learning, community involvement, and high levels of parental involvement, students are able to learn at their own pace, follow their interests, and avoid negative peer groups, unsafe public school environments, and politically correct indoctrination. The best way we can ensure homeschoolers are getting an optimal edcuation is to prevent any interference from public educators. If you like public school – its free and available to anyone. Those who choose a different route are significantly more likely to have better alternatives and much better outcomes.

  12. Posted May 14, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh EOS! Takes a narrow minded, self interested person to know one, amirite?
    Everything you said is so messed up that I will leave it to others to respond….

  13. EOS
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Amirite? What a great example coming from a public school educator.

  14. Duuuude
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Met Schauer a couple weeks ago in Saline when he was at Gretchen Driskell’s kickoff.
    Very unimpressive. I don’t think he’s got a chance in hell unless Snyder goes to hell. Also, Pam Byers….not impressive either. I don’t know what Democrats stand for, anymore. They’ve practically adopted the premise of the Republican Party (outside of social issues).

  15. Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    We should encourage religious home schooling until the 8th grade, at which point kids should be required to get to work in the fields and make babies.

  16. Posted May 15, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Peter, you know what? I think EOS has changed my mind. I am going to quit my job and open up a factory where the kids who “don’t benefit” from education can come and work for me. Thank you for opening my eyes, EOS. I’m going to be RICH!

    (And btw, I always tried to give you the benefit of the doubt but not after you attacked me personally. So sad, so silly.)

    Btw Dr. L–congrats on the good news you posted on FB :)

  17. Mr. Y
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Work that breaks young backs builds character.

  18. EOS
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink


    Open up a business, invest your life savings, work 80 plus hours a week, and hire only employees with behavioral problems and low I.Q.’s. Wonder how long it will take you to beccome rich… Don’t hold your breath.

    Saying you had a narrow focus of self interest because you want a new governor to employ more special ed teachers, was not a personal attack, but an accurate observation. A narrow focus is not the equivalent of a narrow mind, which has negative connotations. I was responding to the assertions you made. You chose a personal attack.

  19. EOS
    Posted May 16, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Schools in Washington DC spent $29,349 per student and yet 83% of 8th graders are not proficient in reading and 81% are not proficient in math. The problems are not caused by lack of funding.

  20. Posted May 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Patti!

    But yes, your plan is GREAT! We would be HELPING black people by not sending them to school. The problem is school!

    I don’t know why I never thought of it before!!! We’re going to be rich!!

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