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Lansing — Attorney General Bill Schuette has taken a small step toward launching a long-expected campaign for the governor’s office in 2018 by recently changing the name of his campaign committee to “Bill Schuette for Michigan.”

The Midland Republican has been operating a campaign committee called “Bill Schuette for Attorney General” since May 2009.

On July 6, Schuette’s campaign team quietly changed the name of the committee, even though he’s barred by term limits from seeking re-election in 2018 to his current post.

Schuette’s campaign name change — and continued fundraising — comes as he’s preparing to speak Monday during the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“Bill’s optimistic about Michigan’s tomorrows and he hopes to be part of them, so he chose a name that reflects that feeling,” Schuette spokesman John Sellek said Thursday. “With everyone excited for the upcoming convention and thinking about the future, it felt like a good time to take action.”

Sellek did not deny the committee name change signals Schuette is laying the groundwork for a 2018 campaign for governor.

“We know he isn’t running for attorney general again, but he has a dedicated group of friends and supporters who believe in him and want to continue to support him and be part of his team,” Sellek said.

Schuette — a former congressman, state senator and Court of Appeals judge — has been raising funds for his attorney general committee since February 2015, less than two months after beginning his second and final four-year term as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.

In 2015, Schuette has raised more than $500,000 and had about $404,000 in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, according to his most recent campaign finance report.

Schuette’s campaign committee name now mirrors potential 2018 Republican gubernatorial rivals.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has a committee called “Brian Calley for Michigan” and former House Speaker Jase Bolger created a committee in January called “Jase Bolger for Michigan.”

Bolger’s committee organization form included the abbreviation “TBD” — to be determined — in a section for office sought. Bolger, R-Marshall, hasn’t ruled out running for governor.

“The posturing for the governor’s race is beginning,” said Republican consultant Stu Sandler, who isn’t working for any of the potential candidates. “All of the Republican leadership is focused on the next election, but they’re also starting to transition to ’18.”

Calley, R-Portland, raised more than $332,000 in 2015 and had $316,688 in his campaign coffers at the end of 2015, according to a April 7 report.

In April, Calley told The Detroit News he won’t decide on whether to run for governor in 2018 until after the November presidential election.

Gov. Rick Snyder is unable to run again because of term limits.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood

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