LANSING, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- Now that the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial tickets are pretty much set after Mark Schauer officially announced Thursday that Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown will be his running mate, the question becomes: How much does a running mate really matter?
"Not much," said John Truscott, a Lansing political consultant with Truscott Rossman and former spokesman for Gov. John Engler. "People don't vote for a gubernatorial candidate because of their choice for lieutenant governor."
In a perfect political world, a running mate provides geographic balance, experience and skills that the candidate for governor might not have, along with a mind-set that won't clash with the top dog on the ticket.
"The main thing is, don't do any harm," Truscott said. "You don't want someone who's going to say something totally out of line or embarrassing to the ticket, or pick someone who is so diametrically opposed to the candidate himself."
The position also is very important for the daily running of government, said Lansing political consultant Robert Kolt. "But it's not for political election campaigns," he said. "They should be helpful, they should play an important role, but their impact on the election is negligible."
For both Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democratic candidate Schauer, the choices for running mates have been like-minded, capable candidates.
With four years in the state House of Representatives, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley provided the legislative experience that Snyder — a political neophyte in 2010 — lacked. With her job as Oakland County clerk, Brown adds administrative skills to the ticket, as well as a reputation as a candidate strong on issues of importance to women.
"I know I needed just the right leader who shares my and our values. I've been looking for someone who's tough and someone who's not afraid of speaking up," Schauer told a crowd at Oakland Community College in announcing his running mate Thursday. "I've found just that person, and it's Lisa Brown."
Brown, 47, a West Bloomfield Democrat, served two terms in the state House before winning the Oakland County clerk's job in 2012. She is the first Democrat to win the job in decades.
"Rick Snyder's policies are only working for the wealthy and corporations," she said. "He calls himself 'one tough nerd,' and he's been tough, but on all the wrong people."
Calley was seen as a person with expertise in tax policy and the demeanor and ability to craft tough compromises with the then-Democratic majority.
During his years as a legislator, "he had really strong relationships across the aisle," Truscott said. "He's the one they sent in to get a deal done."
And since he has been lieutenant governor, Calley has taken the lead on issues ranging from mental health and autism to the repeal of the personal property tax.
In Snyder's eyes, he's the guy for the 2014 ticket. But some in the tea party are trying to curry enough favor with Republican precinct delegates to send a message to Snyder that they think he hasn't been conservative enough and bounce Calley from the ticket.
Both Calley and Brown will have to be approved at their party's conventions following the Aug. 5 primary election.
Contact Kathleen Gray: 517-372-8661 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @michpoligal.