Senate leader Meekhof not running for governor in 2018

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof does not plan to run for governor in 2018, he said Tuesday, ending speculation he would seek the promotion when term limits force him out of the Legislature in two years.

“As much as faith is a part of my life, I just realized that it isn’t where God’s leading me to serve,” Meekhof, R-West Olive, told reporters. “If he’s not leading me there, it’s got to be somewhere else. I just don’t know where that is yet.”

Meekhof’s comments came one day after he told The Detroit News he had not made any decision on a potential gubernatorial run.

Removing his name from consideration winnows the potential Republican primary field to two likely contenders: Attorney General Bill Schuette of Midland and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley of Portland.

Neither has announced plans to run, but both have been raising money and laying the groundwork for possible campaigns. State records show Schuette raised $984,317 between the start of 2015 and Oct. 20. Calley raised $620,440 during the same span.

Other potential GOP candidates could include U.S. Rep. Candice Miller of Harrison Township, who recently won election as Macomb County public works commissioner, and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton. Miller told The News this month she is focusing on her new job in Macomb.

Meekhof said he does not have a favorite in the emerging field.

“There’s always surprises in this thing,” he said. “Somebody declares who you had no idea was going to, so I don’t even know if the field is even shaped yet. We’ll see. Keep an open mind.”

On the Democratic side, possible 2018 candidates include U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township, former state Sen. Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has repeatedly insisted he will not run.

With the 2016 election now complete — save a pending recount of the presidential votes in Michigan — potential candidates are expected to announce 2018 plans in coming months.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who won re-election in 2014, cannot seek a third term.