Kelley endorses Whitmer for gov bid

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Former Democratic Attorney General Frank Kelley, dubbed the “eternal general” for his 38-year tenure, is endorsing Gretchen Whitmer for Michigan governor.

The Whitmer campaign announced the endorsement Monday, one week after U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee confirmed he would not run for governor, fueling renewed interest from other potential candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2018 including attorneys Mark Bernstein and Geoffrey Fieger.

“The most important thing a leader can do is stand up for the people they serve. I’ve watched Gretchen throughout her career take on tough fights on behalf of the people,” Kelley, 92, said in a statement.

“Gretchen will demand accountability and ensure we don’t have another tragic failure of government like the Flint water crisis.”

Whitmer, an East Lansing Democrat and former state Senate minority leader, launched her campaign in January, becoming the first high-profile candidate to do so.

She is facing a challenge from former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed. Ann Arbor attorney Mark Bernstein and Southfield trial lawyer Geoffrey Fieger both said last week they are considering runs.

Whitmer is attempting to consolidate Democratic support now that Kildee has opted out. She announced Thursday an endorsement form the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

Kelley remains the nation’s longest-serving attorney general, a post he held from 1961 to 1999, with most of his statewide election wins coming before Michigan voters chose to enact term limits.

Whitmer said he helped shape her approach.

“As a mentor, Frank Kelley taught me that public service is always about putting the public’s interest before your own interest, and before any special interest,” she said in a statement. “It’s about fighting for the people you serve.”

Republican. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has been running online ads teasing a likely gubernatorial run, and he is expected to announce his campaign May 30. Attorney General Bill Schuette is also widely expected to seek the GOP nomination.