www.mybaycity.com December 1, 2006
Government Article 1383

Lansing Broadcaster Tim Skubick, right, exchanges quips with Harold Evans, of Saginaw, retired Second National Bank executive.

See Dick & Jen Run: "Instant" Book Tells Story of An Election Landslide

Skubick Wows Tri-County Economic Club With Comedy, Repartee, Inside Scoop

December 1, 2006
By: Dave Rogers

The dramatic story of how Gov. Jennifer Granholm survived a $35 million advertising onslaught by wealthy businessman Dick DeVos is already out in print.

How broadcaster Tim Skubick has flashed into print with his "instant" book "See Dick and Jen Run" is a story in itself.

Mr. Skubick entertained and tantalizingly dangled some book details before about 175 members of the Tri-County Economics Club (TCEC) last Monday at the group's monthly meeting at Saginaw Valley State University.

The host of "Off The Record" on public TV also gave his insider theories about why Granholm won, and DeVos lost, in a fast-paced, interactive talk that displayed his savvy gained from 35 years experience covering politics at the State Capitol.

The book, published by the University of Michigan Press, is no doubt sure to be a best-seller, at least in Michigan. The race for governor made history, the publisher says, as the "sound bite" society moved into the state.

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My copy of the $29.95 cloth cover 408 pager is already on the way, at the "instant" discount price of $18.78 from Walmart online (www.walmart.com). What a country!

Mr. Skubick took the same platform where more than three years ago Mr. DeVos stood before the same group and promoted the charter school and school choice movement, challenging business people to have the courage to stand up for what's best for schools and students.

The response by one TCEC member at the September, 2003 meeting, was: "It sounds like he's running for governor." And, by golly, the observer was right! It wasn't long before Mr. DeVos charged full tilt into the fray against a popular governor struggling with a faltering economy.

Unfortunately for Mr. DeVos and his supporters it wasn't fated to turn out like they hoped.

"How'd you like to wake up the morning after the election having spent $35 million, and lost?" Mr. Skubick queried the crowd with a knowing grin.

With that prologue, he proceeded to range through the audience, wielding the microphone like a matador, pointing and jabbing, laughing and whirling as the crowd joined in the repartee.

It was a great show, the likes of which the staid button-down men and plain black suited women of the TCEC have never seen before. Probably the closest was political pundit Bill Ballenger who spoke last year to the group.

After members tossed out a few guesses about the key to the election: no clear message, too much negativity, overwhelming Democratic state, Mr. Skubick shouted his answer: "One word -- China!" The Democratic focus on DeVos's business ties to China was the key to the election, Mr. Skubick opined.

"He laid off people in Michigan and created jobs in China, that was the charge, and it had nothing to do with being governor of Michigan," Mr. Skubick amplified.

Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, was at the dock on Mackinac Island handing out fliers to departing conference goers blasting DeVos immediately after the Republican hopeful announced his candidacy to the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce annual conference at the Grand Hotel in June, 2004. That's how quickly the attack strategy that ultimately paid off began.

The problem Mr. DeVos faced was that it took too long to explain a charge that was "a bald faced lie," according to Mr. Skubick.

A bad performance in the first debate with Granholm caused perhaps by "over preparation," the perception he has "beady eyes," changing his story on various issues, the negative image of Amway in the state, a lack of passion -- all conspired to spell defeat for Mr. DeVos, said Mr. Skubick.

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Meanwhile, the governor and her wrecking crew were hitting on all cylinders, especially with the "Alterra suprise" in the debates, said the speaker, who declined the Granholm campaign's lure to pop that question as the debate moderator.

"That dominated the news coverage for four days and moved DeVos off his message," said Mr. Skubick. "When it was all over there was nothing there; he owned 1 percent of the company and it was a bad investment."

Mr. DeVos did better in the second and third debates, but fewer people watched and the positive effect was muted. "More people saw the meltdown," he commented.

The announcement that Google was moving to Ann Arbor with 1,000 jobs Mr. Skubick called "the turning point in the campaign." However, the inside story from Google sources is that the governor made only two phone calls but was given credit for the economic coup, said Mr. Skubick.

Until that point the DeVos campaign was making hay with its TV ads, especially the one featuring his daughter, and had erased a 20 point Granholm lead.

The fact that Granholm recovered and held a 14 point lead in the final two weeks before the election was kept quiet by the Democrats for fear "a lot of people might not show up" if they thought she was safely ahead.

Mr. Skubick was shocked, when he talked to an exit pollster the night of the election, to find that it was a landslide for Granholm, 56 percent to 44 percent. He observed: "Some people lie to pollsters."

"Lots of people thought she was the lesser of two evils," said Mr. Skubick, who decried the "media age" of robo calls, TV news bites and "excessive polling." He concluded: "We're not electing game show hosts, we want to know what they will do."###

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