Name-dropping for guv race

There are, give or take, about 550 days before Michigan voters pick a new governor, so you might be asking yourself, why am I about to waste my time on a column on who might be the next governor in November 2026?

“Geez! Let’s get this presidential election out of the way before you pepper us with stuff that is so far down the road.”

If that is the way you truly feel, get your fish now and wrap it up in this column.

However, if you want to be ahead of the curve and dazzle your friends with your depth of political knowledge, venture on.

As the current governor, who can’t run again next time, is fond of saying, “the fact of the matter is” the inside game of planning to run for governor is already underway — albeit mostly under the radar — but you don’t have to dig very deep to uncover who is doing what about a possible bid.

You want names?

You bet.

The Democratic bench is very deep and this list is in alphabetical order, just to be fair:

Lansing state Sen. Sarah Anthony, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Mark Hackel, the Macomb County executive, Lt. Gov. Garland Gilchrist, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, from Oakland County, and Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson. (If you want your name added to the list, send it along).

On the GOP side, two former candidates and rich guys, Perry Johnson and Kevin Rinke, and the state Senate minority leader from West Michigan, Aric Nesbitt, are pondering bids. Another potential candidate is from Up North but shall go nameless at this read.

Each potential candidate brings his or her own set of talents to the race, but foremost at this reading is raising money to launch the bid and building a roster of supporters who can spread the candidates’ message once the game begins.

Veteran Michigan pollster Steve Mitchell acknowledges that the general public — which has lives, unlike those who reside in the political trenches — could care less about the gubernatorial contest at this point.

Understood, but he correctly reflects that any candidate “has to hit the ground running after the 2024 election. These days, the amount of money that has to be raised is in enormous amounts.”

And there is no time like the present to begin that arduous task so that, come Nov. 6, would-be governors can start on the forced march to November 2026 out in the open.

Benson, the secretary of state, is loath to admit she is running, because job one for her is to preside over a clean, error-free, non-controversial election this November. The last thing she wants is negative headlines or anything that even faintly looks like she is more interested in being governor than doing the job Michigan residents elected her to do first.

Mayor Duggan is also an interesting hopeful. He flirted with the idea of running for governor almost eight years ago, but, at the time, Gretchen Whitmer was fixin’ to run and did not want any competition from his honor, the mayor. If there was bad blood between the two, they did a bang-up job of keeping it out of the media.

You would think the current lieutenant governor — “The Deuce,” as some call him — would have a leg up, since he is one heartbeat away from the job everyone else wants.

But you could call it the “lieutenant governor curse,” because all of the former lieutenant governors who wanted the top job never got it.

Jim Brickley was supposed to replace Gov. Bill Milliken.

Brian Calley was supposed to replace Gov. Rick Snyder.

Dick Posthumus was supposed to replace Gov. John Engler.

John Cherry was heir apparent to take over from Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Each one was qualified as all get-out, and each one failed miserably, which may be why Gilchrist is weighing a possible bid for mayor of Detroit.

There is plenty of time for all of that to shake out, with more names likely to surface, so, if this column is not wrapped around your lake trout, stuff it away some place for future reference … That’s if you made it this far, and, if you did, thanks a bunch.


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