Rick Snyder, Non-Candidate

Helping Detroit out of trouble.

Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky

The Republican presidential candidates are nothing if not diverse, at least in professional background. The field features a minister, two doctors, two lawyers and a corporate chief executive. Unfortunately, it won’t include a certified public accountant, or at least not the nation’s only CPA governor. 

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced last week that he won't make a run for the White House. He is an unusual voice in the Republican Party -- and could have been an important one in the presidential campaign. 

It’s understandable that Snyder opted not to run. He's little known outside his state, he's not a darling of the religious right, and he's not the kind of ideologue who appeals to the base voters who turn out for primaries and caucuses. Nevertheless, he has a compelling story to tell: When he was elected governor in 2010, after a career as an accountant and investment manager, Michigan's unemployment rate was more than 11 percent. Today, it's 5.6 percent, thanks to the addition of 400,000 private-sector jobs. In 2010, Detroit was careening toward bankruptcy. Today, it’s no exaggeration to say that downtown is booming, and the regional real estate market is showing signs of recovery. 

In the wake of the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, the challenges facing urban America are likely to receive more attention in this presidential campaign than in any other in recent memory. No Republican has more experience with urban revitalization than Snyder has. 

To improve Michigan’s neglected roads and bridges, he backed a referendum to raise the gas tax -- a step Congress hasn't had the courage to take since 1993. Last Tuesday, voters resoundingly rejected the idea, but Snyder deserves credit for offering a solution instead of kicking the can down the road. He's not giving up or pointing fingers, either, but is determined to try something else. It's the kind of attitude that's badly needed in Washington. 

There are already two Republican candidates running against Washington: Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Both came to prominence by getting elected to a deliberative body and spending much of their time attacking Democrats. Snyder is a Republican in a Democratic state who has proved he can govern effectively with members of the other party. 

CPAs are not known for their charisma, and Snyder isn't known for his oratory, though he does speak with passion and conviction about reorienting government around people rather than programs. It’s highly unlikely that he would have won his party’s nomination, so it’s impossible to blame him for not throwing his hat in the ring. But his brand of politics deserves a wider audience.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.