It was interesting up at Mackinac this year.
Unfortunately, I didn't catch the speaking dinners because of price constraints. Contrary to the myth, Republicans aren't all rich. I didn't care about Charlie Crist or Romney, but I did want to hear Tim Pawlenty speak. The best panels there were pundits and pollsters, which is there every conference, and the series on "Fixing Michigan." While I didn't agree with everything, there was a lot of good information there, and it wasn't a bunch of Richard Florida "cool cities" tripe either that I was afraid of hearing.
State party has a recording of the panels and speeches. Best of all is that they did not get me on camera. The two best panelists I heard were Tim Leuiette and Richard McLellan. This was the first time I heard Leuiette speak at a panel and he was one of the favorites who stuck out. Some wanted him to run for governor after the panel. He's the President of Dura Automobile systems. McLellan is a prominent attorney in the Lansing area and also was the head of John Engler's transition team. I've heard McLellan speak on a few occasions and he's one of maybe five or six people that I put in the category of "When he speaks, I shut up and listen." He knows his stuff, and backs up his points very well. He also had the best lines about there being too many laws.
The Straw Poll is one of the bigger topics. Rick Snyder was the Straw Poll winner. How did he win? He brought a lot of people up to the conference, got them registered, and made sure they voted. It was a good show of organization. Whether it continues remains to be seen. Mike Cox finished 2nd and had a lot of support as well.
Speaking for the pollsters and pundits panel, Steve Mitchell released a poll there which was reported in the Detroit News. It's still way early, but Cox is leading in the poll.
In other news, Bill Ford is backing Snyder. I wonder if Matt Millen will be next? Hoekstra was endorsed by former Speaker Craig DeRoche and RNC Committeewoman Holly Hughes. Hughes endorsement was not surprising since Hoekstra is her congressman. DeRoche endorsement is interesting because he's an east-sider and Hoekstra is a west sider. I think the East vs West Michigan divide is a little overblown myself, but it does happen.
Go to the state party links and take a look at the panels. They were a lot better than your run of the mill politicalspeak.