Governor Rick Snyder's interpersonal relationship skills with legislative Democrats is in need of some polish pronto.
On the eve of his most critical State of the State message on Wednesday where he will need Democratic support to get stuff done, his lack of political moxie is showing. Maybe it's because he's not a career politician? If so some of the more senior members of the inner circle ought to clue him in.
He's done some things quite well. Just after he was elected, he presided over a steady stream of lawmakers coming into his office for lunch in a "like to get to know you" effort . It was the right thing to do.
But more recently, he has admitted that he doesn't communicate that often with the Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer. He reports he can read her criticisms in the newspaper thus implying he doesn't have to hear it from her face to face.
Yet in another good move, he ventured into the Senate Democratic caucus the other day as part of an out-reach strategy. He did the same with house Democrats however, there was a stumble inside that closed door meeting.
With newly elected Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Oakland County) in charge, the governor proceeded, not once, but twice, to refer to him as "Andy."
Democrats in the room, taken aback, were wondering Andy who? So was Andy..err Tim.
Finally one of the governor's aides corrected the governor who spent 15 minutes, took one question and said adios.
Mr. Greimel laughed out loud when asked how it felt to be called by the wrong first name?
"In some sense its another example of the governor being out of touch while on the other hand, it's a very minor thing. It's not something I get bent out of shape about. We all make mistakes so I'm not overly worried about it."
It was a gracious response and it's so true that everybody forgets names from time to time.
But this was a chance for the governor to make up some lost bipartisan ground with the House D's who were still smarting from the beating they took on the Right to Work debate. He got high marks for being there, but you gotta wonder if he got any marks for not knowing the name the guy he needs to work with for the next two years? You could dismiss this as a rookie mistake, but he's going into year three of this mission.
And finally one other missed opportunity that somebody should have rectified. Normally a governor would call a new legislative leader from the other party when he or she was elected.
Mr. Greimel never got a call.
Some of you are going picky, picky, picky and maybe in the real world, you might be right. But in the political world, especially if you really want to work with everybody, little things mean a lot and when they are not done, they mean even more.