Early announcements for 2018

If the early bird catches the worm, lots of worms are being caught in the political arena these days.

At the front of the line is Dr. James Hines. The virtually unknown doctor from Saginaw announced over a year ago that he would seek the GOP nomination for governor. He’s hoping to replicate what candidate Rick Snyder did which was run as an outsider. Major difference between Mr. Hines and the current governor? The latter had a wad of money, the former does not.

Another early bird is Democrat Gretchen Whitmer who is also running for governor. She was first in having revealed her plans shortly after the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. She is also getting a headstrong on selecting a running mate which is unheard of at this early date. Remember the next race for governor is not this coming November 2017, but the year after in 2018. Yet word is out that the ambitious Ms. Whitmer is chatting with two guys about the second spot on her ticket. Both are former Michigan House members. Both are affable chaps and both would bring something that she badly needs, i.e. a strong presence in Southeast Michigan and more importantly Oakland County.

Andy Meisner and David Woodward both served in the Michigan House. They’ve been in the Democratic trenches for years as Mr. Woodward has been the local Democratic Party chair and currently owns a seat on the county commission and Mr. Meisner, who was almost speaker of the Michigan House, is keeping tabs on the purse strings as county treasurer.

Reportedly Ms. Whitmer wants a second person who can help raise money for what will be an expensive campaign.

Another likely Democrat for governor is Flint Congressman Dan Kildee who, not to be outdone by Ms. Whitmer, has reportedly started his hunt for a running mate and the name Patrick Miles Jr. has surfaced. Appointed by former President Obama, Mr. Miles turned in his walking papers just after Donald Trump said, “So help me God.”

Gaining early bird status for a completely different reason is Mark Bernstein. Maybe you have seen him on the tube pitching his “get the Bernstein advantage” line to potential clients. Here’s a guy with instant name ID and access to a ton of money but he’s and early out. “Now is not the time,” he reveals but quickly adds there will be a time down the road and he promises whenever that is, he will eventually run for governor.

Jocelyn Benson also obtains early bird status even though she has not formally announced she will be a candidate, once more, for Secretary of State. Current SOS can’t run again leaving an open seat and with Ms. Johnson out of the way, Democrat Ms. Benson has a real shot at this since she lost to Ms. Johnson by three points in 2010. The former Dean of the Wayne State law school would only say, “I’m seriously considering running” which is code for “I’m running. I’m just not ready to tell you yet.”

She is well versed in election law and given all the charges of “rigged” voting last November, the “urgency” for her to run is now off the charts. Ms. Benson is hoping against hope that nobody else challenges her at the party convention, and so far no other person is on the bench looking to get in.

On the GOP side, Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot, a long-time Republican player was on the horn over a month ago wanting his name placed on the list of SOS candidates. And Oakland County Sen. Mike Kowall, currently the majority floor leader in the Senate, is all but assured of running even though no formal announcement has been made.

Other names out there revolve around state attorney general. Current A.G. Bill Schuette is barred from running again which does not bother him in the least since he wants to run for governor. An open seat always draws a lot of attention and state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker from West Michigan is not bashful about declaring her interest.

And speaking of U.S. attorneys, Democrat Barbara McQuade may be looking for work as soon as President Trump gets around to bouncing her from office. A Democratic insider in legal circles reports she has “left the door open” to running for A.G., too.

All of this behind the scenes jockeying so far in advance does not interest the average citizen who is more concerned about getting through the winter. In the real world of elective politics, however, these early birds hope to get the votes to prove the strategy works.