The Fourth of July holiday signals the start of the last lap for candidates seeking the nomination for governor in the Aug. 3 primary.
And it could be a sprint to the finish for candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Seeking the Republican nomination are Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, state Sen. Tom George, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder.
For the Democrats, it’s Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero vs. Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon.
On the Republican side, the race is a statistical dead heat, says political veteran and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a Bouchard backer.
Bouchard has trailed three of the other four Republicans in polls, but the holiday could be when he unleashes his resources.
“Bouchard’s strategy all along has been to sit back,” Patterson said. “Like the jockey in the race, you pick that spot on the rail and let the two lead horses exhaust themselves, and then as you get around that corner pole, you give the horse its head and let him go.
“I think July 4 is when he’s going to round that corner pole and then I think he’ll start taking the crop to his campaign,” Patterson said.
Apart from polls, there aren’t many ways to judge who’s likely to win the Aug. 3 primary.
Polls have given Hoekstra, Cox and Snyder numbers in the 20s while Bouchard’s numbers have been in the teens.
The resources of the campaigns is also something of a mystery. The campaigns last had to report their finances at the end of January but don’t have to report again until right before the election.
Patterson expects Bouchard will likely spend about $1 million in the final month of the primary campaign.
Cox is considered to be well-funded and Snyder can pull his personal resources in the final sprint.
“I know all these guys,” Patterson said. “I’ve talked to a lot of them about their strategy.
“Mike Cox knew he’d be the lightening rod, he figured everyone would be shooting at him because he was heads on to be the early leader, and he was.
“Although, Hoekstra, surprisingly, has maintained some strength on very limited funds,” Patterson said.
Patterson says the campaign on the Republican side is a statistical dead heat, and that Bouchard’s hang-back strategy could ultimately pay off on Aug. 3.
“If it works and he comes out first, it’s going to be one of the great campaign strategies of all time,” Patterson said.
-- Charles Crumm of The Oakland Press