Virg Bernero’s pants on fire

By Kyle Melinn

So Virg Bernero says he’s "seriously considering" running for governor next year.

Before we start getting into whether Bernero’s populist shtick is the Democratic Party’s best chance to keep the governor’s residence in 2010, can we just press the rewind button back a few weeks?

Isn’t this the same Bernero who told me at least twice in the run-up to his much-anticipated showdown with Carol Wood that he wasn’t interested in the gubernatorial post? That he was going to serve out his full four-year term?

The guy hasn’t even put hand to Bible and repeated the oath a second time and he’s already a click or two away from a full 180-degree flip-flop-a-roo.

On Feb. 5, 2009, when asked by MIRS if he would run for governor, Bernero said, "Not in this decade." On June 3, 2009, Bernero was asked again. This time he said, "No. Absolutely not. I have no plans." Before the primary election, I asked him about seeking another office while mayor. He said no. Before the general election, I asked him if he would serve all four years. He said yes.

Literally minutes after he won his second term, I asked Bernero about seeking another office. Incredulously, again, he said no.

Seriously, shouldn’t we hold him to a higher standard even though we know it’s just Virg?

You could say, "What did you expect, Kyle?" Is he really going to confess to longing for a different job other than the one he’s seeking? Is he going to play coy and hope interviewers and the public don’t notice?

"How does this work for a quote? Hahahahahahahahaha!" Wood told me. "And we expected anything different from him. He sat there and lied."

Wood, whom Bernero shellacked in the still-warm mayor’s race, obviously has a Paul Bunyan-sized axe to grind, but don’t you feel just a little bit deceived, too?

He was a state representative all of two years before leaping to the state Senate. He drank a cup of coffee in the Upper Chamber, realized life in the legislative minority stunk and announced he was running for Lansing mayor a few weeks after taking his meaningful first Senate vote. Counting his county commission time and governor, Bernero has the opportunity to serve in five different political posts in 10 years.

Yeah, yeah. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We bought his rhetoric hook, line and sinker that he wasn’t going to job hop on the city of Lansing. What did we get in return? The real Virg.

Now I know Bernero says he never seriously considered Virg For Governor ’10 until he got some calls and e-mails from "people" who think Michigan needs his leadership.

That’s a wonderful story. How about the nearly 10,000 Lansing people who voted Bernero for mayor for the years 2010-2013?

Yet, it seems Bernero has been looking ahead long before Monday’s "I’m thinking out" comment. Two weeks ago, Virg’s campaign sent supporters an e-mail about the three things he believes AMERICA needs to help speed its recovery. He didn’t talk about his agenda for his second term. He wrote about an "Apollo-style commitment to U.S. Manufacturing" and "fair trade with truly open markets."

"I encourage each of you to read up on the World Trade Organization and to voice your protest about their summit on November 30 in Geneva," he wrote, closing with this line, "Please continue to send me your ideas for renewing the American Dream."

If there’s a link between the WTO and Lansing, I’m missing it. This is Bernero trolling for another elected post, despite what he’s said.

This governor talk has been going on since he started becoming a regular on the national TV news networks. Why didn’t he have this heart-to-heart conversation with his family over the President’s Day weekend as opposed to the Thanksgiving weekend? (Bernero remarked that his family seemed more enthusiastic about the idea of his running for governor and that his two college-age daughters are ready to start campus campaigns for him.)

Lt. Gov. John Cherry wasn’t lighting the world on fire in the polls back then either and House Speaker Andy Dillon was just as flighty on the subject.

The only difference now is that Democrats are panicking over Cherry’s same underwhelming poll numbers and Dillon’s questionable Democratic credentials.

If Bernero hadn’t run for a second term as mayor, he would not have had a job in reserve in case the governor thing didn’t work, but that’s his gamble. At least Lansing wouldn’t have a mayor who was splitting time.

As it is, we Lansing voters are left looking like the fools.

(Kyle Melinn is the editor of the MIRS Newsletter. His column appears weekly. E-mail