2017-01-12 / Columns

Early Start to Next Governor’s Race

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Michigan got an extremely early start last week to what shapes up as a highly competitive 2018 race to replace term-limited Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

Democratic lawyer and former 2001-2014 lawmaker Gretchen Whitmer, 45, who for four years was the minority leader of the state Senate, filed papers and announced her bid to “build a Michigan with opportunities that rival those of our past.

“…If we want change, we can’t wait for Washington to solve our problems. And we can’t elect the same old politicians, on the same old platforms, and expect a different result. We can do better. We deserve better.”

A notable moment in the career of Whitmer, a former prosecutor from East Lansing and a champion on health care, came in 2013 when in a Senate speech on “rape insurance,” she said she had been raped years before.

Whitmer last week said to the Associated Press that for too long, Michigan has had leaders “who have failed. They haven’t been straight with the public. They’ve politicized problems as opposed to working solutions to them. I think we deserve better.”

Why the early announcement? She told The Detroit News: “There are too many people worried about whether their paychecks are going to cover their bills, or whether or not their children are getting the education they need to be successful. We can’t wait, and I can’t, wait either.”

Republican State Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said a Whitmer governorship “would be a step backward for our state.” She particularly cited Whitmer’s close ties to 2002-2010 Governor Jennifer Granholm during the years that Michigan struggled from effects of the national recession.

Another Democrat currently considering a possible 2018 run for governor is third-term U.S. Representative Dan Kildee of Flint Township, whose visibility has grown as a result of Flint’s drinking water crisis.

That issue also looms as a factor for Republicans in the gubernatorial race. Attorney General Bill Schuette, 63, who gets kudos for his criminal investigation of wrongdoers of the Flint crisis.

There is no doubt Schuette contemplates a 2018 bid for governor. Asked about this by the Associated Press, the crafty politician, a former congressman, state senator, and appellate judge from Midland, said he intends to be “part of the conversation” about Michigan’s next generation of leadership.

Schuette said: “The people in Michigan, they want jobs and paychecks. We don’t want to go back to the heaviness of the behaviors of Obamacare and the failures of the Granholm administration.”

There will be future comments here from Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, another widely touted, possible GOP 2018 Republican contender for governor.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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