Analyzing Engler 

Did our sly-master governor pull a fast one in an attempt to put a white hat on his would-be successor, or did the guv keep his No. 2 far outside the loop when contemplating action on the state’s budget? That’s the question being raised following Gov. John Engler’s veto of $850 million in funds for municipal governments. Whichever scenario you believe, say Democrats, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus looks bad: Either he was participating in a political ploy designed to make him look like a hero, or he was kept mushroomlike, hopelessly in the dark while a crucial decision was made.

Here’s the story: Posthumus came out Friday — a week after Engler’s veto — announcing to blinking camera lights that he’s breaking with his lame-duck boss. Posthumus says he’s gotten enough GOP votes to — GASP — override the veto of the Republicans’ revered leader. Engler says the veto is necessary to save the state budget; local and state leaders, facing election this week, say it’s political and financial murder. If the veto override occurs, Dems say, Posthumus can claim he’s the state’s savior.

“This move was calculated and manipulative. I would agree that this is probably nothing more than a political game by the two of them,” says Greg Bird, Senate Democratic spokesman. But John Lindstrom, editor of Gongwer News Service Michigan Report, a legislative news outlet, says hogwash. “I can’t see this as an engineered plot to make the lieutenant governor look good,” says Lindstrom. Further, the override may fail, because Engler “always finds an escape hatch.”

“In many respects he’s the most formidable politician that ever existed, because he always finds something, he always finds a way,” Lindstrom says. Posthumus’ spokesman, Sage Eastman, says Posthumus learned of the veto an hour before it was announced and then diligently worked to gather support for an override. “If voters want someone who will stand up and give a good sound bite, don’t vote for Posthumus. He’s going to give you solutions,” Eastman says. Call News Hits a two-headed donkey, but if that’s not a campaign plug we don’t know what is.

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail [email protected]

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