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Posted on Mon, Feb 1, 2010 : 6:07 p.m.

Rick Snyder to air Super Bowl ad in Michigan as gubernatorial finances reported

By Nathan Bomey

Michigan’s gubernatorial campaign is about to heat up in super fashion, but the top candidates are angling for votes with relatively small piles of cash.

Campaign finance reports filed today with the state will illustrate the emerging reality in the Michigan’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign: Cash is hard to come by.

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Michigan gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist and former president of Gateway Inc.

Not so much for former Gateway Inc. President and Ann Arbor venture capitalist Rick Snyder, who announced this afternoon that his campaign would air a 60-second advertisement in Michigan during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Snyder’s Republican campaign said late Monday that it had raised more than $3.2 million in 2009, including $2.6 million from Snyder himself, according to the Associated Press.

Among other major Republican contenders, Attorney General Mike Cox raised about $1.8 million, according to various reports. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard pulled in more than $900,000 and U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra said he had raised just under $760,000, according to the Detroit News. That figure included about $276,000 in state matching funds, however, meaning Hoekstra had only raised about $475,000.

Campaign finance reports were due to the state at 5 p.m. today.

Collectively, the Republican candidates have raised less than $7 million - a small sum compared to the $56 million campaign waged between Gov. Jennifer Granholm and west Michigan businessman Dick DeVos in 2006.

The state’s economic crisis is cramping political fundraising, the Detroit Free Press reported:

Besides the cash-poor state campaign fund, a weak economy is making fund-raising tough.

"Money is so tight, a $10-million campaign would be extravagant," said Democratic consultant Joe DiSano.

In a state with 10 million residents, political experts say it’s difficult to win a campaign without a major TV advertising push.

That could boost Snyder, who will be the first candidate to start airing ads - an effort targeted at boosting his name recognition. Snyder was president of computer maker Gateway from 1991 and 1997 and briefly served as the company's interim CEO in 2006. He's also CEO of Ann Arbor-based VC firm Ardesta, a former executive chairman of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and founding chairman of Ann Arbor SPARK.

Early polls show that the race for the Republican primary is still a toss up, though Snyder has a sizable gap to close.

Cox has the support of 26 percent of GOP primary voters, according to a poll released last week by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA.

Hoekstra had 22 percent, Bouchard had 13 percent, and Snyder and State Sen. Tom George had about 3 percent each.

The Democratic Party is still searching for a gubernatorial contender with widespread political appeal. Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero are considering campaigns, and the party is reportedly courting University of Michigan Regent Denise Ilitch to run.

State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, who raised about $36,000 in 2009, is the only Democratic candidate who is officially left in the race.

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.


Top Cat

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

Just an FYI, and I'm not a shill for Snyder, he is doing a meet and greet at the Corner Brewery on Monday the 15th. If interested, you need to go to his website and RSVP. I've never had the opportunity to speak with a political candidate while drinking beer. If I had any sense, I wouldn't temp fate. It's a good thing I don't have any sense.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

I am more sceptical of the existing politicians and the mess they have gotten us into. Most of the candidates out there right now are recycled political hacks from other jobs they can no longer keep due to term limits. Job shifting, that's all it is. Not sure that is the experience we need right now. At least I'm willing to look at something different.

Top Cat

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

We need drastic change but I am very skeptical of a candidate with zero experience in government. Government is different from the private sector and requires different skill sets. Also, if I had run Gateway, I'm not sure I would be bragging about it.

Paul Haynes

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

The adage that the person with the most marbles wins doesn't sound right. We're inclined to avoid the richest and most powerful when selecting who we wish to represent us...all of us, not just the wealthiest. "Let the best person win" is not necessarily analogous with the (wo)man with the most wealth.

Rob T

Mon, Feb 1, 2010 : 9:25 p.m.

I think 2010 will be the year that online ad buys start to chip away at TV. I hope's able to take a cut from that pie!


Mon, Feb 1, 2010 : 8:53 p.m.

The candidate that wins the republican primary will have my vote in November. It's time to clean house up in Lansing, and DC for that matter and flush out all the libs that got Michigan into this terrible mess. It's time to get Michigan off life support and stop being a national joke.