After eight years of being a blue state, Michigan residents will have a Republican governor come January. Rick Snyder — who won last week’s election by sticking to a platform based on moderation — is an interesting politician in an era with rigid party lines. It appears that Snyder is delivering on his promises. On Monday, he announced that he would appoint current Speaker of the House Andy Dillon — a Democrat — as his treasurer. By appointing a prominent Democrat to his cabinet, Snyder has made an effort to instill an atmosphere of bipartisanship in Lansing. Snyder must continue to display his moderate stance and the legislature should follow his example.
According to a Nov. 9 article in the Daily, governor-elect Rick Snyder announced two appointments to his cabinet on Monday at the Ford School of Public Policy. He appointed Dick Posthumus — the Republican who served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. John Engler — as his senior advisor and Andy Dillon as treasurer. Dillon ran in the 2010 gubernatorial election as a Democrat and was defeated by Lansing Mayor Virg Benero in the primaries. During the announcement of the appointments on Monday, Snyder stressed that Posthumus and Dillon were chosen on the basis of their experience, not their party affiliation, saying, “Let’s stop fighting over the extremes and recognize Michigan is in a crisis.”
Both Posthumus and Dillon have significant experience in state politics. Posthumus has already spent four years in the governor’s office during Engler’s term. He has also served as the Michigan Senate majority leader and held the position longer than anyone in the state’s history. Dillon has spent six years in the state House of Representatives and has been speaker for the last four. These individuals bring necessary public service experience to the table that Snyder should make full use of — especially considering his lack thereof.
Snyder’s appointment of a Democrat to his cabinet is almost unheard of. It certainly hasn’t been done in recent memory. By appointing Dillon, Snyder demonstrated his willingness to reach across party lines to achieve progress. When he takes office, Snyder shouldn’t get caught up in bureaucratic politics and lose sight of the importance of cooperation. He needs to maintain his moderate platform and apply this spirit of bipartisanship to the legislation he proposes.
Members of both political parties know that drastic change is needed. As Dillon said on Monday — and Snyder enforced by his appointments — the only concrete way to enact structural changes is to get rid of party labels and work together. Snyder and Dillon have demonstrated that they are willing to put aside their political differences in order to make dynamic changes for the state’s recovery. The state legislature should follow their example.
Snyder’s choice for treasurer has shown his commitment to moderation and bipartisanship. He should continue to utilize the experience of both parties. But the true test of a cooperative spirit will come when policies are brought before the legislature and the governor’s desk. Lansing should create a custom of bipartisanship to produce legislation that will strengthen Michigan.