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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    RightMichigan Exclusive: An Interview with 2010 Gubernatorial Candidate Pete Hoekstra

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:35:54 AM EST
    Tags: 2010, Hoekstra, Governor, Cherry, Primary, Interview, Exclusive (all tags)

    Its spring 2009 which means Election Day 2010 is practically right around the corner.  This year in Michigan just about everything is up for grabs. 110 seats in the House, 38 seats in the Senate, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, two Supreme Court Justices and heaven knows what kinds of ballot initiatives will be before Michigan voters when they head to the polls next year

    Primary races are already beginning to shape up and take form across the state.

    None will be as closely watched as the race for Governor and we'll be doing our best to bring the candidates directly to you!

    On March 30th Congressman Pete Hoekstra (MI-2) announced his intention to run for the state's top executive office.

    He and his campaign team have been fantastic and were able to put some time on the books for the Congressman to speak with everyone here at RightMichigan.com.  

    Interview below the break...

    RM: Congressman Hoekstra, thanks so much for taking the time out of what I know is already a packed schedule to speak with everyone here at RightMichigan!

    CPH: Nick, thank you for providing me with the opportunity to connect with your readers. New media sources are an important part of how we need to communicate to interested citizens. Speaking of, congratulations on being named one of the "Best State Political Blogs" in the nation by the Washington Post!

    RM: Thank you! I know all of the great bloggers across the state who participate on RightMichigan are pretty proud of that one.

    Alright, getting down to business. You’re in really, the safest of safe Congressional seats. You could just about serve the Second District in Washington forever if you wanted to. So, why give that up? Why do you want to be Governor?

    CPH: Diane (my wife) and I made the decision in December that I would not seek another term in Congress. It has been a wonderful opportunity to serve the people of Michigan, but I never intended for Congress to be my last job. I’ve had the opportunity to serve, make an impact, and now is the time to leave. In regard to Governor, our state needs a new direction. It is grossly underperforming. I want to lead the team that brings Michigan back, that fixes what is broken.

    RM: You’re a part of what is already a pretty awesome field of Republican candidates and of course John Cherry is waiting on the other side for the winner. Why should people vote for YOU?

    CPH: You’re right, it is a strong field. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses. My strengths stem from my educational background and professional work experience. I have an MBA from the University of Michigan and 15 years of experience working with a company recognized around the world for its products and also its innovative and effective management practices.

    Herman Miller was a great place to take my education and put it into practice. I’m first and foremost a business guy, but in 1993 I entered into public service. I applied my business skills, won elections and most importantly had an impact in Congress. As part of the Budget Committee we laid out the path to balancing the federal budget, which we did for four straight years. I oversaw the overthrow of a corrupt Teamsters election in the mid-90s as Chairman of the Oversight Sub-Committee of the Ed/Labor Committee. Perhaps most importantly I have served as either the Chairman or the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee for the last six years. I have the background, depth and breadth of experience, and proven track record of success in both the private and public sector that we will need to turn Michigan around. I will lead the effort to restore, reform, and reinvigorate our great state.

    RM: Great! Now that we’ve got the soft balls out of the way, I’d love to run through a series of issues, sort of rapid fire, just so folks across the state can sort of get a feel for you and where you’re coming from. Is that OK?

    CPH: Go for it.

    RM: Fantastic. Thanks! Let's just start with the foundational issues. Where are you on second amendment rights and the right to life?

    CPH: I have an unblemished record of supporting and defending second amendment rights and being pro-life. It’s all out there. My record clearly outlines my positions on such important issues. The record will also demonstrate that I have not only voted correctly but that I have been an active and outspoken advocate for these issues during my career. Nothing to guess about where I’ll be. My record is clear and strong.

    RM: Great to hear. In recent weeks we’ve heard conflicting reports about Michigan’s tax climate. The Granholm-Cherry administration claims we’re a middle-of-the-road tax state but Detroit Renaissance says we’re actually one of the most unfriendly states in the Union when it comes to taxation. What’s your take on Michigan’s business tax climate?

    CPH: The question needs to be broader: What is the overall business climate in Michigan? Job creators in Michigan consistently tell me that, “Michigan is an expensive and difficult state in which to conduct business!” Recently a businessman told me that if he could pack up and move his business, he would, because the economic environment, taxes, regulation and bureaucratic responsiveness to businesses are awful. Michigan has become inefficient and hostile to business. The proof is that we’re losing population, jobs, investment and rank number one in the nation in unemployment. Business people in Michigan believe and act in a manner that clearly indicates Michigan is broken and needs to be fixed, and therefore they will continue to leave and invest somewhere else!

    RM: Jobs really do seem to be the number one issue this election cycle, don’t they? Is there anything else?

    CPH: Jobs! Leadership! Jobs! Leadership! Jobs! Leadership!

    RM: Would you support a repeal of the Michigan Business Tax? And I know its early, but in light of our “balanced budget amendment” are there any sort of broad thoughts on how or if we would replace it?

    CPH: It is early but the tax needs to be simplified and made fairer! The MBT needs to be phased out as Michigan rebounds under new leadership.

    RM: Do we need to “tweak” Proposal A? And if so, how would you tweak it?

    CPH: Parts of Proposal A need to be evaluated in light of nearly 15 years of experience with it. We need to recognize all the positive outcomes that resulted from it. It created more equity of funding across school districts and limited tax increases to our citizens! Yes, that’s all positive. However, it also distorted some market dynamics that diminished economic growth and activity. For example, Diane and I are now empty nesters. We built our house 20 years ago. If we decided to move into a new home that fit our new lifestyle we could have the same amount invested in housing but pay significantly more in taxes. That doesn’t make sense and slows economic activity. Secondly, it made all school districts beggars to Lansing, rather than staying focused on meeting the needs of local communities. Some states have developed creative opportunities for people to voluntarily invest in their local schools by creating tax credits for education. I think that is one of the proposals among others that we should investigate. K – 12 education needs improvement so that it can be a selling point in the new and growing Michigan that I envision we will become under my leadership!

    RM: Now, you made a few waves a couple weeks ago when you went on Off the Record with Tim Skubick. You said that you do not support a Right to Work ballot initiative. Now we learn this past week that Fiat may walk away from a merger with Chrysler, effectively killing 300,000 Michigan jobs, specifically because the union wage and benefit structure is too uncompetitive with auto manufacturers in other states and the unwillingness of Big Labor leaders to come to the table frightens them.

    If not NOW on Right to Work, when? If ever?

    CPH: Whether Fiat reaches an agreement with Chrysler will depend upon whether they reach an agreement with the UAW or not. Right to Work will not be the deciding factor in that negotiation. Michigan needs to focus on job creation, and a battle about a ballot initiative on Right to Work will create uncertainty. Businesses hate uncertainty. Our strategy right now needs to make Michigan an attractive place in which to conduct business for the people who are already here. Once they become advocates for doing business in our state we will experience growth. There are many other initiatives that are necessary. Finally, I have visited several union and non-union plants across Michigan that have competed successfully on a national and international basis. I’ve also seen the other side. In either case it’s about management and shared vision. When there is strong leadership and shared vision you witness success, where there isn’t you witness mediocrity.

    RM: I’d like to address a couple of issues stemming from your time in Congress, too, because I think these sorts of issues will almost certainly be brought up in the course of the campaign and I want to make sure you have the opportunity to respond to them as thoroughly as you want, without worrying about sound bytes and word limits in the mainstream media.

    You campaigned on self-imposed term limits and promised you’d only serve in Congress for so many years. I wish there was a more polite way to put this, but you broke that promise. Why?

    CPH: You’re right. In Congress we failed to pass term limits on a national basis. Republicans in Congress actually developed a better means of facilitated leadership flow into our party. We limited the terms members could serve in a committee leadership position to six years. It replaced the old bulls and ensured that they would never return. That change has worked better than term limits because it removed members from their chairmanships before they got too comfortable, while not losing important talent, skill and knowledge of complex issues that comes with experience. It also injected some humility into the process. It means that at the end of this Congress I will have had the opportunity to lead on the Intelligence Committee for six years, it is coming to an end and is one of the reasons I decided to leave Congress. Back in 2004 I had to answer to my constituents on this issue, and I explained the alternative developed by Republican in Congress. I was fortunate enough to be re-elected three times in spite of having changed my position. I feel fortunate for the opportunity the constituents afforded me to continue representing them and I feel equally good about my decision to voluntarily step away so that others have the opportunity to represent the 2nd district.

    RM: You also pledged during previous elections that you would not take PAC money. Are you accepting PAC money now? Why the change?

    CPH: For 10 years I didn’t accept PAC funds. I didn’t like the campaign financing system that was in place and wanted to fight to change it. I did fight for change and got it, but not in the way that I was working toward. McCain-Feingold became the law of the land and dramatically empowered organizations such as Moveon.org creating an uneven playing field. In light of it I decided I needed to accept PAC money. I did take steps that are still unique in Congress. My campaigns have been more transparent and timely in the reporting of campaign contributions than almost any campaign. I go well beyond the legal requirements for reporting. Again, circumstances changed dramatically, I responded, embraced the values I announced and implemented innovative and perhaps better solutions to the problems or issues I was trying to address.

    RM: Thank you for being so up front. Transitioning, quickly, and I know you’re running to another meeting… New media and social media. You’ve been using tools like Twitter and YouTube for a long time now.

    Why is it important, or is it important, for a candidate to reach out using the new media? And what role do you see bloggers and blogging communities like RightMichigan playing during this election?

    CPH: It is important to use the new media because there is an entirely new generation of voters who use the new media to access their information. Many of the voters are younger. We need to engage them and encourage them to become active participants in the political process and allow them to use the tools they are accustomed to using in order to conduct a conversation with me.

    You guys will be an important part of this campaign, of this election cycle. Beyond the younger generation, however, the new media and means of social networking have expanded opportunities for listening to more voices and hearing from more people about their vision for OUR state. If Michigan is going to be on the cutting-edge of economic development, education and ultimately growing, I think leadership of the state requires we be on the cutting edge of communicating and interacting with constituents more often, more personally and in a more relevant way.

    RM: Last question. You win, you’re elected and you’re sworn in at noon on January 1st, 2011. At 12:05, what is the first SPECIFIC thing you get to work on as Governor of the State of Michigan?

    CPH: Announcing and swearing in my team, a new generation of effective leaders who will work with the people of Michigan to make Michigan great again.

    RM: Congressman, thank you again!

    < Thursday in the Sphere: April 23 | DeVos unveils ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, worlds biggest art competition >

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    Two points from above and a question... (none / 0) (#1)
    by KG One on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:16:08 AM EST
    ...I'm of the stong opinion that the problem with schools is that they need to rein in their spending more than they're not receiving enough money.

    Strengthening accountability and openness would be a great start.

    Mandating posting their incomes and out-gos would fix that.

    Second, I'd recommend that he lay off the Hoffa thing. Many Teamsters that I know aren't too happy that he bounced Carey and aren't too happy with Hoffa's hands off stance on a lot of local issues around Detroit (i.e. Newspaper Strike - Hoffa was nowhere to be seen, while Carey was always visible).

    Now, I hope that Rep. Hoekstra is reading this blog along with his interview (and hopefully the comments), I have one question for him:

    What can you say to someone who has serious reservations about his recent vote to hike taxes on AIG executives to convince them to vote for him?

    This bill was not only blatently unconstitutional, but displays a disturbing abuse of federal power (i.e. going after "unpopular" individuals for publicity reasons).

    Hoekstra (none / 0) (#2)
    by dsheill on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:28:13 AM EST
    AIG taxes, that's a good point, I forgot about that. If Hoekstra's record from the last eight months were somehow erased from history, he'd be my number 1 choice for governor. But the vote for the bank bailout plus a disturbing trend downward in his voting tendencies gives me cause for pause: http://mi.rlc.org/2009/03/31/gov-candidate-hoekstras-record/

    I'd really have no problem with his right to work position if he'd simply explain what other reforms in particular are more important right now. For example, if he made it clear that he's got limited political capital to work with and he would rather focus on dismantling the Department of Environmental Quality first, then OK. Or, get rid of collective bargaining for state employees in Michigan instead of broad based right-to-work laws that cover the private sector as well.

    But it really does not seem that any of the GOP candidates are willingly embracing the conservative mantle right now (that is conservative from a "economic right" perspective). Democrat light, while possibly more appealing to moderate voters in this state, will not effectively articulate a contrast to what the Democrats have done over the last 8 years.


    Bailout (none / 0) (#4)
    by mjertle on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 01:32:20 PM EST
    I would have to agree with Dan - I do not think that I can support anyone that supported the Bailout.


    I agree (none / 0) (#5)
    by Eric T on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 03:33:30 PM EST
    "If Hoekstra is the Republican name on the general ticket? I will vote for him."

    The AIG thing don't bother me!

    • It should. by KG One, 04/23/2009 04:32:14 PM EST (none / 0)
    Something that didn't get mentioned here . . . (none / 0) (#7)
    by Kevin Rex Heine on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 04:56:30 PM EST
    . . . is that Pete is a known supporter of the FairTax initiative.  I had a chance to speak with him at length at the MIGOP Convention back in February, and I get the impression that he's also a supporter of the state proposal.

    For those of you who may have a beef or two with his votes, please permit me to point out a paraphrase of a quote from Ronald Reagan:  Anyone with whom you disagree one time out of five is a friend and an ally, not an enemy or traitor.  (You can go a long way with someone with whom you agree 80% of the time.)

    By all means, keep Pete honest, but let's not get so carried away with honest questioning that we forget what we really need to be doing.

    I have mentioned before... (none / 0) (#8)
    by KG One on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 05:05:38 PM EST
    ...that given his past record, that I'd be willing to give him a second chance.

    But, I would like to hear an explaination.

    Rearranging Deck Chairs (none / 0) (#9)
    by DMOnline on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 05:13:19 PM EST
    Excellent interview, Nick.

    I found Pete's comments on "Right to Work" initially disturbing as well until I considered the fact that he's running as a Republican for governor in the state of Michigan.  Considering the high number of "Reagan Democrats" that once resided here, if there are any left that might vote for Hoekstra, treading softly on Right to Works is a smart move.

    My biggest concern is that whoever we nominate and hopefully elect will only end up being "Jenny-lite."

    The more time I spend considering it, the more I believe this state needs dramatic change in the Right direction.  I'm talkin' ripping the current state tax code to shreds and re-writing it to encourage massive and quick job growth, dismantling the bureaucracy that views employers as prey, scrapping our current education system and replacing it with real choice and real vouchers and merit pay for teachers and making tenure a thing of the past.

    Anything less than revolutionary change in our state will be tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


    Uneasy ... (none / 0) (#10)
    by conservativefox on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:41:45 PM EST
    Out of all the candidates I tend to find Hoekstra and Cox as the most credible. Land bores me and has never done anything for conservatives and well Snyder he's a liberal!

    They both seem to be people who are willing to put principle over party and that says a lot especially since our own damn republican party allowed the tax increase we all blame on Granholm and Cherry.

    With that said.  I read through some of the comments and I tend to agree the AIG vote speaks volumes to me... why? Because he first voted to bail out wall street (bad), then he stopped supporting the bailouts (good), and then he voted to retroactively taxed people by 90% (bad)... And the explanation I read in the Detroit News was scary (something about "it was politics and nancy pelosi made me do it...").

    Now I agree that's one set of votes, and that's why the jury is still out.

    Anyhow, enough ranting for one post.

    Nick nice job - good interview!

    Good interview. (none / 0) (#12)
    by thejmfc on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:18:35 AM EST
    I've been looking forward to these.

    I do wish he would have better articulated his stance on the "right to work" issue.  He's apparently opposed, but why?  Is there a legit reason, or is it general-election politics?  

    There are a few points of his recent record that give me pause, but going by the 1/5 rule mentioned by someone else above, he's still a friend and ally.  Definitely leaps and bounds greater than the woman he would replace, and the John Cherry option on the Democratic ticket.

    Better than the rest of the Republican field?  I think that Pete Hoekstra would be an effective and strong Governor, but with a field this strong, I'll need to see a few more interviews before I decide who gets my primary vote.

    You're right (none / 0) (#16)
    by jgillmanjr on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 02:14:45 PM EST
    Constitution be damned

    Solid interview (none / 0) (#18)
    by ChBrown on Sat Apr 25, 2009 at 08:36:39 AM EST
    I really like some of the things Pete has been saying.  He impressed me here too. Agree with some of the comments about not holding someone accountable for every small part of their record when they overall have been good conservative friends.

    It's a strong field of candidates so far.  Really like Pete and Cox.  Not so sure about Terri and Snyder is an absolute liberal who is trying to buy this nomination--no thanks!

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