Michigan Democrats — January 30, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer drops out of 2014 gubernatorial race


And then there were three

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer announced today that she will NOT be a candidate for Governor in Michigan in 2014.

Here is a video she put out explaining why she made this choice:

Clearly she’s making the choice to be a good parent and knows that a gubernatorial race would prevent her from doing that. Tough choice. Totally understandable and admirable choice.

Her stepping aside narrows the immediate field from four to three: 2010 candidate and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Detroit-area Congressman Gary Peters and former MI-07 Congressman Mark Schauer. While that’s not to say that others won’t throw their hat into the ring, these three are certainly the top three at the moment.

Virg Bernero is an obvious candidate since he ran in 2010. He suffers from not being especially popular in Detroit and other areas outside of Lansing and is seen by some as a bit too “shouty”. Democrats are funny: they want their candidates to be feisty and fiery but if they yell too much, it gives them the heebee jeebies.

Gary Peters is currently a rising star in Congress and someone who has a long career ahead of him in national politics if he chooses that route. This year, he joined the Democratic Whip Team as a Senior Whip and even had legislation signed into law in his freshman term. If he were to step away from that to serve his home state, he’s well-liked in Detroit and all around the state and seen as someone who actually gets stuff done.

Mark Schauer is a well-liked candidate statewide. Although he didn’t survive the 2010 tea party fiasco, he has a solid record as a Michigan legislator in both the House and the Senate for years. He was the Democratic Floor Leader from 2003 to 2006. He currently works with the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups so his ties to progressive groups are strong.

There’s even a Draft Mark Schauer for Michigan Governor Facebook page.

Up until recently, Schauer seemed disinterested in resuming a political career. However, earlier this month, he sent out signals that he might actually consider at gubernatorial run:

chauer says he’s still mulling over a possible run for Governor in 2014 because while he enjoys what he’s doing right now, he’s very unhappy with what the Michigan legislature and Governor Snyder did to end 2012. He doesn’t have a timetable on making a decision, but he hasn’t ruled it out.

My money is on an Schauer taking an early and commanding lead, one that will discourage others from entering the race and encourage Peters and Bernero to pursue other paths. An early leader benefits the Democrats tremendously and everyone knows this. Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer spoke about this at the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting last Saturday, saying that an endorsement convention happening early in 2014 may be possible if a strong enough candidate emerges. This would allow the candidate to run a far more robust campaign than if they have to wait until the August primary to get started. Keep in mind, Rick Snyder has no such impediment.

I am sad to see Senator Whitmer drop out, frankly. I think she’d be a powerful candidate for Governor. That said, she’s young and talented and a strong progressive candidate and her political future looks bright, indeed. It will be fun to watch her trajectory.

[Whitmer photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]