But in a convergence of methodical planning and patient alliance building – the “systematic approach” – the reformers were on a roll, one that establishment Michigan Republicans came to embrace and promised to bankroll.

Republicans executed a plan – the timing, the language of the bills, the media strategy, and perhaps most importantly, the behind-the-scenes lobbying of top Republicans including Snyder.

They knew they would likely face an acrimonious battle of the kind they had seen over the last two years in the neighboring state of Wisconsin between Republican Governor Scott Walker and unions. Operating in plain sight but often overlooked, they worked to put the necessary building blocks in place.

“This was a risky move across-the-board and I wanted to make sure all of my (Republican) caucus members would come back to serve with me after the next election,” said Colbeck, who ran for office after whetting his political appetite as a Tea Party activist.