2017-02-02 / Columns

Early Governor’s Race Accelerates

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

The early start of Michigan’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign is accelerating to replace term-limited Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

I have previously noted the extremely early January 3 filing of East Lansing Democrat attorney Gretchen Whitmer, the former Senate Minority Leader running as a declared candidate; the likelihood of Democratic U.S. Representative Dan Kildee of Flint Township running, and Republicans Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Attorney General Bill Schuette becoming candidates down the line.

Former Congressman Schuette, during his northern travels last week, when asked in Traverse City on the Ron Jolly WTCM radio show if he will run, reiterated his oft-cited line that he wants “to be part of the conversation.” No problem, Mr. Schuette. You’re very much part of the 2018 conversation.

Beyond Whitmer, according to the Detroit Free Press last week, “at least five other candidates, including two Democrats and one Republican, have formed committees and say they are running for governor in 2018.” Some names I have never heard.

The Democrats include William Cobbs of Farmington Hills, a Navy veteran and retired Xerox executive. He said, “We’ve got to recommit to public K-12 education, and we’ve got to embark on a major statewide infrastructure program.”

Democrat Kentiel White of Southgate, who works in the health care field, stresses the need to improve the criminal justice system and Michigan schools.

Republican Jim Hines, a Saginaw obstetrician/gynecologist last week scheduled a three-day, seven-city announcement blitz, including Traverse City, Sault Ste. Marie, and Marquette.

He said: “I think the issue is whether you put politics first, or whether you put the needs of the people first.”

Dwain Reynolds of Middleville, a high school social science teacher in Grand Rapids, is seeking the nominations of both the Green Party and the Socialist Party. He said, “Equality for all is the most important issue. I’ll talk to people that most of our career politicians have forgotten. I know what it’s like to be an average Joe in Michigan.”

Todd Schleiger of Lake Orion said he’s running as an independent because he feels the two parties are broken. One of his objectives is to make it easier to recall officeholders.

The obscure contenders I have cited are decidedly unlikely to succeed. Snyder’s successor likely will be an establishment type like Whitmer or Schuette.

But there’s a mood out there, as reflected by President Donald Trump’s election, that things are a-changin’ in the nation.

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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