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Lansing — State Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake said Thursday he is withdrawing from the 2018 race for the Republican nomination for Michigan secretary of state.

Kowall has not yet announced whether he will instead run to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham, which he said last week is an “unexpected opportunity” he will consider.

In a statement released ahead of this week’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, Kowall said he has told state party leaders he will not seek the secretary of state post and has reached out to other declared candidates.

“After much thought and many conversations with my family and supporters, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for secretary of state in 2018,” he said. “I am confident the current field of secretary of state candidates will be strong competitors to hold this important office by defeating (Democrat) Joselyn Benson.”

Republican Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot, Michigan State University professor Joseph Guzman and businesswoman Mary Treder Lang are each seeking the Republican nomination, which will be decided by party delegates at a statewide convention in 2018.

Benson, the Democratic nominee in 2010, has expressed interest in another run but has not launched any campaign. Other potential candidates include Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum.

If Kowall does run for Congress, he could enter a crowded GOP primary field that already includes former state House majority floor leader Rocky Raczkowski and businesswoman Lena Epstein.

State Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, is also planning to run for the GOP nomination. Other potential Republican candidates include state Sen. Marty Knollenberg of Troy, state Reps. Laura Cox of Livonia and Martin Howrylak of Troy, and former state Rep. Kurt Heise, the current supervisor in Plymouth Township.

Two Democrats are already in the 11th District race: Haley Stevens, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama’s Auto Task Force, and Fayrouz Saad, Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs. Physician Anil Kumar, who challenged Trott last year, is also considering another run.

Staff writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed

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