DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder officially kicked off his bid for a second four-year term Monday with the first of several stops across the state.
The Republican governor declared his plans to seek a second term at automotive supplier James Group International in Detroit. He planned to follow it with appearances in Lansing and Grand Rapids and another round Tuesday in Traverse City, Frankenmuth and Farmington Hills.
"We've gotten a lot done ... but we should not be complacent nor content," Snyder said from a stage above the plant floor.
As Snyder spoke, a group of about 50 protesters walked outside. Laborers and teachers denounced several of his first-term moves, including shepherding through union-limiting right-to-work legislation and taxing public pensions.
Jim Pearson, a retired teacher, said Snyder changed the terms of a long-promised benefit when he taxed pensions. Pearson said he now pays $1,400 a year on his pension. Snyder said the tax was imposed out of fairness and it didn't affect those who were retired at the time the change was made.
"As a businessman, I'm surprised he's reneging on the deal," Pearson said, adding it was a blow to him after teaching for 40 years.
Inside, Snyder and others, including Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, were promoting progress and accomplishments during the governor's first term, including adding 220,000 private-sector jobs and the state's improved credit ratings.
Richardville also sought to portray Snyder less as "one tough nerd" — a moniker embraced by the accountant-and business executive-turned governor — and more as a "passionate, caring man running the state."
Snyder's likely Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer, said the governor is out of touch and dubbed the re-election launch a "rebranding tour."
Snyder's campaign unofficially began in the fall when he ran a TV ad and all but declared his candidacy to Republicans on Mackinac Island. He ran a second ad during Sunday's Super Bowl, which called him Michigan's "comeback kid."