Last night I decided to drive over to Auburn Hills, Michigan to catch the last Michigan Republican Gubernatorial Debate before the August 3rd primary and hear what the candidates had to say. Granted, I have already picked the candidate I am going to endorse, but I figured I would give some analysis of what I noticed in last night’s debate.

Click here to watch last night’s final Michigan Republican Gubernatorial Debate

Michiganders have two weeks and six days left until they are able to vote for which Republican candidate they want to lead the state into prosperity. The Detroit Free Press reports:

On stage were Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Attorney General Mike Cox, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and state Sen. Tom George. None threw a knockout punch at Oakland University in Auburn Hills; each hit familiar themes.

Bouchard emphasized an economic recovery that keeps Michigan’s children in the state.

Cox reminded TV viewers of his endorsements (Right to Life and Michigan Chamber of Commerce) and that he was a Marine and prosecutor.

Hoekstra offered his experience with a west Michigan furniture maker to tout his understanding of the issues.

George said the others aren’t realistic in suggesting deep tax cuts as revenues have shrunk.

I agree with the Detroit Free Press’ assessment that there wasn’t any knockout punches thrown in last night’s debate, but Michigan constituents were reminded of which candidate exceeds the rest: Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Last night, Mike Bouchard proved that he is the only candidate ready to lead the great state of Michigan and put it on a path towards prosperity. He was absolutely flawless during the debate as he stayed poised, articulate, and laid out his plan that will fix Lansing and get Michigan back to work:

  • Eliminate the oppressive Michigan Business Tax.
  • Stay away from tax policies that pick winners and losers and create a climate where jobs can flourish and retore Michigan’s economic competitiveness.
  • First candidate in the race to sign the Americans for Tax Reform’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” – pledging to fight “any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
  • Pursue public-private partnerships which will reduce state spending and create jobs.
  • Implement a part-time legislature, which gives lawmakers part-time pay and eliminates health-care benefits.
  • Implement a two-year budget with a three-year financial outlook based on externally verified numbers. This type of budget has allowed Oakland County to prosper and maintain its AAA-bond rating.
  • Mandate a hard May 15 budget deadline. If lawmakers miss they deadline, they will be docked a day’s pay, along with the governor and lieutenant governor, for each day the budget is late.
  • Continue to support charter school and school competition.
  • And much, much more…

On top of all that, he has been a small business owner, leader in the state legislature under Governor Engler during Michigan’s roaring 90′s, and now manages the largest sheriff’s office in the state. Like he said during last night’s debate: There’s A LOT of new-comers entering the state legislature after the November election due to term-limits, and our state cannot handle another governor who needs on-the-job training. Mike Bouchard is clearly the only candidate who has the experience and backbone needed to fix our great state!

As for the other candidates in last night’s debate:

State Senator Tom George was back to his typical “we must have a constitutional convention” response, which I don’t entirely disagree with. Unfortunately, it will cause special interests groups to flood into the process and cost our state $40-50 million dollars. In other words, that’s crucial money the state of Michigan doesn’t have. Overall, he was energetic and made some good points on a few of the key-issues, but with being the extreme underdog he will likely get ignored.

Attorney General Mike Cox basically repeated himself the entire time. At the beginning of every question he would thank the debate moderator, remind the crowd that he was endorsed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and then plugged his website at the end of almost every question. In my opinion, it seemed like he lacked the knowledge and substance to answer the tough questions thrown his way, but perhaps he’s just not the best debater. Not to mention, Tom George just went to town and picked apart some flaws found in Cox’s Putting Michigan Back to Work plan. Towards the end, Mike Cox seemed to get a little confused when he didn’t know the difference between a “tax-cut” and a “tax-credit”. Looking around at the crowd after he said it, I was clearly not the only one who was absolutely shocked and astonished by his remarks. Overall, he has been a good Attorney General to the state of Michigan, but I don’t think he’s fit for the governor’s office. Sorry.

I kind of like U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, but once again he came off like he was a deer stuck in the headlights and displayed NO enthusiasm at all while answering the questions. Not to mention, he did jump off subject time-to-time and addressed some federal government issues which left me scratching my head. In the end, Hoekstra is definitely the “establishment” candidate with his Washington D.C. endorsements that include former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and others. If Hoekstra receives the Republican nomination I would be worried about whether or not he could keep the Republican momentum going into November. After all, Michigan’s last two GOP candidates that ran against Governor Granholm were dry and unenthusiastic. Part of me wants to ask: Do we really want to risk making the same mistake a third time?

As for Ann Arbor Businessman Rick Snyder… Well, he decided not to show up and instead held town hall meetings in Grand Rapids and Grand Ledge. It’s a strategy that his campaign chose to go with after participating in the Detroit Regional Chamber debate on Mackinac Island in early June. Personally, I find it odd that he could not take off one day during his two-month long town hall tour to show Michigan that he can stand his ground with the rest of the field. If a candidate cannot support his plan during a simple debate, how can he expect to know how to wrangle with state government in order to put a struggling state back on the path towards economic growth? …And please don’t give me the quick one-liner “sound bite” that he was a former CEO. Remember, he disagrees with “sound bites and fireworks”.

Overall, it was a good debate and I had a great time attending.