Next governor must be held accountable for promises

We think the voters of Michigan did a great job telling us what they want and don’t want in their next governor.

On the Democratic side, voters in the primary election chose Virg Bernero, the ambitious mayor of Lansing. Republicans elected businessman Rick Snyder, who appealed to more moderate voters in a race that featured at least three candidates with more conservative credentials.

The choice of Bernero seems to signal that Democrats favor a candidate from outside the state government establishment, for one thing.

Bernero’s opponent in the primary, House Speaker Andy Dillon, of Redford Township, campaigned largely on the strength of his record of legislative accomplishment, but we believe Michigan citizens are angry about the apparent lack of progress at the Capitol in righting the ship of state. Dillon, it seems, was the target for some of that anger on Tuesday.

Bernero made the case that he has gotten the job done for the people of Lansing, and he made the case with passion, a trait Dillon seemed to lack. The times demand decisive leadership, after all, and Bernero’s strong personality won out over Dillon’s softer approach.

We expect Bernero will attack the general election with the same verve and passion, which, at the least, will make for an interesting three months leading up to Nov. 2.

Republican voters also veered from traditional political avenues in choosing Snyder. He was the choice from among a state attorney general, a U.S. representative, a county sheriff with legislative leadership experience and a current state senator.

Snyder refused to play politics in the usual way, declining to take part in Republican debates; instead, he spent months conducting town meetings and using his personal fortune to craft advertisements to speak directly to voters.

Various polls in the closing weeks before the primary had either Pete Hoekstra or Mike Cox winning for the GOP, but both finished well behind when the votes were tallied. For that matter, some of the polls had Dillon prevailing on the Democratic side.

So much for the polls.

The only thing that really counted in the end was the vote of the people who turned out, but then that’s always the case.

The vote in November will be equally instructive in terms of what the people of Michigan want their next governor to do.

Both candidates say they’re determined to change Michigan, change the government and foster a new era of prosperity in a state that enjoyed a lot of it for many years.

Frankly, after several years of economic stagnation, cuts to education and other critical programs and political stalemates, we’re encouraged by the potential these two candidates appear to possess. The true test, where voters are concerned, is not which candidate can make the best promises or satisfy the greatest number of special interests.

The test for our next governor will be whether he can create positive change, build new momentum and get most of the state — legislators, business people, working people — moving in one direction for the better of all. That’s what we need the most.

We wish the candidates the best in this campaign and look forward to their debates on the issues.

After the election, after all the campaign signs have been put away and the slogans retired, we expect to see the promises kept.

The voters, to whom those promises will be made, deserve nothing less.