Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is on the hunt for an emergency manager to turn around Detroit's financial crisis after declaring the city in a state of financial emergency last Friday.
Should Snyder determine a city manager is necessary, which he is likely to do this month, his appointee will face long-term structural debt obligations estimated north of $14 billion, a short-term cash flow problem and pushback from Detroit City Council, the mayor's office and citizen groups who object to the law allowing emergency managers to assert control.
Nevertheless, a few commentators have suggested one surprising name -- Mitt Romney. The 2012 Republican candidate for president was born in Detroit and raised in the nearby wealthy suburb of Bloomfield Hills.
Dave Weigel from Slate wrote that Snyder should "Give Detroit To Mitt Romney" in a column published on Thursday.
"Romney's got a mixed record as a politician, but nobody's ever questions his skill as a brutal operator and turnaround artist," he wrote. Weigel also mentioned that Romney could tap his vast network of corporate leaders for aid.
On Saturday, Charles Lane from the Washington Post mentioned after airing the first post-election interview with Romney and his wife, Ann, that the fomer Mass. governor could be of use in the state's restructuring of Detroit's finances.
"He's got the expertise; he's a hometown guy, and he's kind of a political free agent at this point," Lane said during the broadcast, according to MLive.
But could Romney really be considered a hometown guy after losing Michigan's electoral votes in the 2012 election? That's not even citing his incredibly low popularity within the city of Detroit -- Romney won only 2 percent of Detroit's votes (about 6,000 people) at the polls.
Romney, who is worth an estimated $250 million, could also be discouraged by the relatively pitiful salary of an emergency manager. A new provision in PA 436, the upcoming emergency manager law that goes into effect on March 28, puts the state of Michigan on the hook for paying the new EM's salary. However, Detroit Public Schools' former emergency manager, Robert Bobb, had an additional portion of his salary paid by the Kresge Foundation.
Bill Blant, the president of DSI Associates and a national expert on turnarounds, told The Associated Press that Snyder would be wise to hire an African-American representative for the job.
"If he's even toying with the idea of putting a white fella in charge in a city that's 80 percent black it will be seen as more of this plantation mentality," Brandt said of Snyder.
Finally, the most crucial goal of any emergency manager in Detroit would be to keep the city from filing for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, which Snyder told The Huffington Post he wants to avoid. It might be difficult to convince Michiganders that Romney is the best choice for that mission, since he did famously pen an editorial about ... letting Detroit go bankrupt.
It seems like the Romney guesses are limited to Washington's pundits, for now. During a Monday morning appearance on Detroit news radio station WJR, Snyder said Romney was not the candidate he had in mind.
Do you think Mitt Romney would be a good choice for Detroit's emergency manager? Check out the slideshow of (mostly tongue-in-cheek) emergency manager candidates collected on Twitter. Tweet us your own #dreamEM or leave your candidate in the comments.