Will Chatfield run for governor?
This town loves a good speculation story. When it involves who might run for governor, it loves that speculation even more.
Now, you may be saying, don’t we already have a governor for three more years?
Indeed, we do.
So, what’s with bothering to talk about it now?
See the first sentence, please.
For the past couple of months, there has been unconfirmed chatter that a certain Republican speaker of the state House from a certain little berg called Levering is being mentioned as a candidate for governor.
One former lawmaker reveals he or she was in Speaker Lee Chatfield’s office when somebody brought it up in front of the man himself.
Another source close to the speaker reveals a handful of lobbyist have come to him suggesting his boss should run for governor.
And yet another source who has spoken to folks from the speaker’s neck of the woods reports that “everybody up here knows he is running for governor.”
Well, any political journalist worth his or her salt (do they still say that?) would be foolish not to nose around to see if there is any fire coming out of all that smoke.
Feeding into the speculation: In less than a year, Mr. Chatfield will be unemployed. He’s done serving in the House, and, with a spouse and five kids, he’s probably going to need a job of some sort.
His name has been mentioned for Congress.
He could also run for the state Senate, but the governor angle deserves a hard look.
And you got to know the current occupant in the executive office will have more than just a casual interest in who might be positioning himself or herself to take her on.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is savvy enough to know her legislative agenda could be more difficult to push if one of the key GOP players, who has the power to kill her ideas, may be plotting to take her out.
It’s just what she does not need.
So, with the rumor mill in high gear, it was time to go to Chatfield himself to gauge his take.
“How does Gov. Chatfield sound to you?” was the first innocent question.
“It’s absolutely nothing I have even thought of, so I really see no need to talk about it.”
He turned the fog machine on.
End of interview?
You’ve got to be kidding.
“Well, if that is the case, say, ‘I do not want to be governor.'”
Good one, hey?
“I can tell you I’ve never once thought about it.”
The fog gets thicker.
“So say, ‘I do not want to be governor.'”
You guessed it.
“I can tell you this. I’ve never once thought about it.”
He does say that he wants to be the best speaker he can be for the next year and “have my caucus’s back.”
But he was reminded that, by not taking himself out of the running, it would feed the speculation even more that he was interested.
“I’ve never once.” Etc. Etc. Etc.
Mr. Chatfield is smart enough to know that talking about it three years out would be ill-advised. In fact, to confirm his interest would be counterproductive on so many fronts.
Just ask former Republican Speaker Tom Leonard, who was running for state attorney general while holding the speakership at the same time. Some felt his higher ambitions got in the way of moving the Republicans’ House agenda, which is what his caucus hired him to do.
He lost the AG contest and, it’s a good bet that Mr. Chatfield said to himself, when he was not thinking about running for governor, that he would not make the same silly mistake.
Since the interview with the speaker produced a goose egg, in a vain attempt to salvage something from the exchange, I asked this final question: “Will you call me when you do decide?”
“Tell ya what. If I ever think about it, maybe at that point, I may feel the need to talk about it.”
Score it, speaker one and reporter nada.