2017-07-27 / Columns

Many Contenders for August Primaries

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

It’s about a year before there will be an August 7 Michigan primary to pick nominees for the 2018 election for governor and U.S. senator. But already there are swarms of contenders.


Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited, and will not be on the ballot. Those long-contending Republicans to be there include Attorney General Bill Schuette, long seen as most likely successor, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, a champion of many Snyder programs.

Republican state Senator Patrick Colbeck of Wayne County, who, according to the Associated Press, has “clashed” with Snyder on Medicare expansion and higher fuel taxes, announced against Snyder in June.

Most of the recent activity has been among Democrats. Last week, Mark Bernstein, chairman of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, who often is seen on his family law firm’s statewide television advertisements, said last week he would not seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

Instead, Bernstein, who “strongly considered” a run, endorsed former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, long viewed by many as front-runner for the nomination.

He said, “Her values and vision honor my highest aspirations for our state.”

Bernstein is the second prominent Democrat to consider a bid for governor and then bow out. The other was U.S. Representative Dan Kildee of Flint Township.

Other Democrats running for governor include former Detroit Health Department Director Abdul El-Sayed (who last week visited Traverse City and elsewhere Up North); retired Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar; retired Xerox executive William Cobbs of Farmington Hills; emergency medical service driver Kentiel White of Southgate; restaurant worker Justin Giroux of Wayland, and State Senator Patrick Colbeck of Wayne County.


There are interesting stirrings in the reelection bid by Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, who won reelection by big margins in 2006 and 2012, and has had huge fundraising success for her 2018 campaign.

She has, according to The Detroit News, “$5.8 million on hand for her reelection bid.”

Last week, Detroit businessman and Iraq war veteran John James joined those challenging Stabenow.

He said: “I believe we all want what’s best for Michigan, but given my experience creating jobs and my experience defending the country, I am the best candidate in the Republican Party and the best shot we have to defeat Debbie Stabenow.”

The GOP field against Stabenow also includes former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young of Laingsburg and businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Hills.

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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