A new EPIC-MRA poll conducted last week and released to the Detroit Free Press shows Ann Arbor GOP candidate Rick Snyder moving “from afterthought to contender in the battle for the Republican nomination for governor,” according to the Free Press.

Snyder’s “One Tough Nerd” TV ads, which launched during the Super Bowl an have continued to run during Olympic coverage, have helped tighten the race which shows U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra carrying a small lead over Attorney General Mike Cox. Oakland Sheriff Michael Bouchard is fourth.

According to the poll, Snyder does better — moving ahead of Cox — when voters are given another chance to say who they would choose after being read biographical details about each candidate.

Detroit News coverage of the updated poll numbers point out that Synder poses a particularly serious threat to Hoekstra as the former Gateway Computer President is spending millions from his personal fortune while Hoekstra’s fundraising numbers have been weak.

“He’s in trouble,” said Tom Shields, a Republican consultant in Lansing.

Hoekstra counters, “People are more engaged than ever. This year money is not going to win,” he says. “Our emphasis will be more on building a grassroots organization, getting people to the polls rather than slick TV advertising trying to convince somebody they’re the best candidate.”

I’m hopeful that the Congressman is right and people DO get engaged and look closely at his grandstanding, polarizing, fear-mongering style. Hoekstra is a poster-child for the partisan bickering and rise in the populist “Washington is broken” sentiment.

Michigan can, and must, do better!

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