TIM SKUBICK: Five already looking toward 2018 governor race

TTim-Skubickhere will be five politicians watching very closely the outcome of this incredibility close race for governor because as that goes, so goes their future political careers.

The five are Mark Hackel, Mike Duggan, Gretchen Whitmer, Bill Schuette and Brian Calley.

Here’s how it all fits together.

If Mark Schauer wins, Mr. Hackel, Mr. Duggan and Ms. Whitmer can take a powder on running for governor in four years or maybe even eight assuming Mr. Schauer seeks a second term.

If he loses, the pundit class will allow the ink to dry on the results for maybe a week but then it will be onto the next governor’s race in 2018 and the Democratic trio will be at the very top of the speculation list.

Macomb County executive Mr. Hackel has never ruled it out and has neatly positioned himself as the guy who can work with both sides and is not partisan to a fault. In fact many Democrats find fault with his, “I don’t play partisan games” attitude.

You’ll recall it was Mr. Hackel who made headlines when he first said he was not sure he would endorse in the race for governor. After all he noted he had a pretty good working relationship with Gov. Snyder and he was not that familiar with Mr. Schauer.

That eventually changed and Mr. Hackel has not only endorsed the Democratic candidate but the two have campaigned together in vote-rich Macomb County. Democrats will remember that and it can’t hurt Mr. H. if he eventually runs for governor which he has flirted with for years.

Detroit Mayor Mr. Duggan, when the next gov’s race rolls around, will have a resume that suggests he helped to saved Motown with his no-nonsense, take-no-hostages style of governing. His deceased mentor, former Wayne County executive will find a way to send a missive from heaven that his protégé should run.

What else needs to be said about Ms. Whitmer, who must keep her name in the public eye after she leaves her leadership post in the state senate. Everyone knows she’s been flirting with a bid for statewide office for years and with her daughters being older in four years, you can easily see her getting in as she has never ruled it out either.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. All this is totally crazy, i.e. speculating about another race for governor when the current one is not even over. True, but that’s the world we live it. Deal with it.

If Gov. Snyder loses and Attorney General Bill Schuette wins, he continues his methodical crawl to the governor’s office, which is about the only post he has not held. It’s the worse kept secret in town that the ambitious and savvy Mr. Schuette wants to measure the drapes in the executive office.

But supposedly so does Lt. Brian Calley. He is much better off if his boss wins because Mr. Calley continues to have his public platform from which to build a coalition to follow in Mr. Snyder’s footsteps.

If Mr. Snyder fails, Mr. Calley joins Ms. Whitmer in trying to nail down some job that keeps his name politically alive, assuming he wants to run for governor down the road.

So as the state patiently waits for the outcome this time around, and it could be well into the morning before we know, these five folks will be glued to the TV set as well pondering all the “what if’s” should this race go one way or the other.

Tim Skubick is Michigan’s Senior Capitol correspondent and has anchored the weekly public TV series Off the Record since 1972. He also covers the Capitol and politics for WLNS-TV6 in Lansing.

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Posted by Tim Skubick

Tim Skubick is Michigan’s Senior Capitol correspondent and has anchored the weekly public TV series Off the Record since 1972. He also covers the Capitol and politics for WLNS-TV6 in Lansing.

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