Former AG Schuette says he won't run for Congress in new district facing Kildee

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Republican former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Tuesday he has decided not to run for Congress in the newly drawn 8th District, saying he plans instead to focus on his son's race for the state House.

Schuette's decision deals a blow to Republican officials who had hoped the former GOP gubernatorial candidate from Midland would jump into the 8th, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee is running for reelection.

"I've been asked whether I'm going to run for Congress in the 8th District, and the answer is no," Schuette said Tuesday morning on WSGW's Art Lewis Show. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette addresses the crowd during the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce's 13th Annual Business Luncheon in Detroit on Oct. 19, 2018. Schuette lost his campaign against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Schuette announced Tuesday he has decided not to run for Congress in the newly drawn 8th District, saying he plans instead to focus on his son's race for the state House.

"I mean, it'd be fun, as I like mixing it up with people, and I like going to chicken dinners — whether it's a Frankenmuth or Bay County or Midland or Genesee, what have you. ... And I think I would win."

Schuette previously served in the U.S. House from 1985 to 1991. He was elected attorney general in 2010 and lost a bid for governor to Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in 2018 by nearly 10 percentage points. 

Instead of running for U.S. House, Schuette said he aims to be the "chief volunteer" for the state House campaign for his son, Bill G. Schuette, as does his wife, Cynthia. A campaign for Congress would distract from that.  

"It would really marginalize my involvement as being a helper to him. He's my public service priority," Schuette said. "And I have a number of other issues that I'm working on in the region — on flood reduction and dam repair — that are important to the community. 

"So I'm going to be a great helper, as best I know how, to lots of folks and our son, and that's the decision," he added. "Not that it's Richter scale stuff, but it has to go on, and people will need to make decisions."

Lewis also asked Schuette about a potential run for Michigan governor, which Schuette dismissed.

"Right now, I'm just I'm focused on our son's race, flood reduction and the dam repair," he said. "That's another question out there. You know, it is ripe for a strong candidate to win ..."

Analysts say the new 8th District could be competitive in a good year for Republicans, covering the Tri-Cities of Midland, Saginaw and Bay City, as well as Genesee County, where Kildee's hometown of Flint Township is located. 

Republican Paul Junge said earlier this month he intends to move from Brighton into the new 8th District to challenge Kildee. Junge previously lost a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, in 2020. 

“The National Republican Campaign Committee failing to get their top recruit showcases the strong position Congressman Kildee is in to win in November," Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes said in a statement.

Kildee had been drawn into the new 8th District with GOP U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, who lives in Midland. But Moolenaar said he intends to run in Michigan's redrawn 2nd District covering a number of rural counties in mid-Michigan.

Kildee serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and is chief deputy whip for the House Democrats. He was last re-elected to Congress 54% to 42% over Republican former state Rep. Tim Kelly of Saginaw Township.

Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.