The Herald Bulletin

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July 21, 2013

Michigan governor front, center in Detroit bankruptcy

DETROIT — Seven governors came and went during the decades-long decay of Michigan's largest city that culminated with a humiliating collapse into financial ruin.

It's the eighth, former business executive and relative political novice Rick Snyder, who is aggressively tying his legacy to the prospects of a Detroit turnaround.

When he took office, Snyder pushed for more powers for the state to intervene in distressed cities and schools. After voters repealed the law last November, he ignored critics and signed another one. He also hired the city's turnaround specialist and, nearly four months later, blessed the request to file for bankruptcy.

For the man with the "one tough nerd" moniker, it's the latest bold decision in a 2 ½-year stretch that's remarkable for the sheer breadth and pace at which Snyder has moved. He's again in the national spotlight just a half-year after making Michigan — the bastion of the auto industry and organized labor — a right-to-work state, a move that pollsters say led a drop in his approval ratings.

Though the impact of the bankruptcy filing on Snyder's 2014 re-election may be difficult to predict, it's still a legacy definer that's being watched not only in Michigan but also by Wall Street and other elected officials across the country.

Snyder, a former venture capitalist and computer company CEO, has no known presidential aspirations.

"I don't spend time dwelling on my legacy. I just try to do my job well," the Republican governor told The Associated Press in an interview. "That's relentless positive action. No blame, no credit. Just simply solve the problem.

"Here was a problem 60 years in the making. The can was being kicked down the road for far too long. It was time to say enough was enough. Let's stop, let's stabilize, let's grow."

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