Sen. Carl Levin’s (D-MI) retirement announcement has already set the Wolverine State’s political wheels in motion, and the succession picture is much clearer today than at the end of last week.
Maybe In – House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) and three-term Democratic Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) top the lists of both parties who say they are “seriously considering” entering the Senate race. Should these two meet in a general election, we can expect a tough, hard-fought contest between a pair of strong, veteran campaigners who have both won tough races.
Potential candidates who won’t yet rule out running are Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell, the wife of Rep. John Dingell (MI-12) who is the Dean of Congress, and second-term Republican Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3). Terri Lynn Land (R), a former secretary of state, also is a possible entrant.
Definitely Out – Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI-10), a former two-term Secretary of State who many believe would be the party’s strongest contender, is among a surprisingly large number of potential candidates who have ruled themselves out of joining the open seat contest. In a statement to the Detroit News, Miller says she will not run for the Senate, but will continue her work in the House and is seeking re-election in 2014.
Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), a former congressman and US Senate candidate, also plans to seek re-election. Observers believe he will stay put in 2014, and then run for governor in 2018. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R) indicates that he is not planning to enter the Senate race, either. He is reportedly looking toward re-election or a run for Rep. Amash’s House seat should he (Amash) run statewide. Scott Romney, the brother of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, was said to be looking at the race but is now telling potential supporters that he will not run.
Though they have not given definitive statements, GOP exclusive committee chairmen Dave Camp (R-MI-4) of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Fred Upton (R-MI-6) at Energy & Commerce are both highly unlikely to run. Camp, in particular, is entrenched in the tax reform issue and almost assuredly will not jettison the legislative progress he is making in order to launch a statewide political campaign.
Other Republicans saying they will pass on the Senate race are former Attorney General Mike Cox, ex-Senatorial candidate Clark Durant, former gubernatorial nominee Dick DeVos, and his wife Betsy, a former Michigan Republican Party chair.
On the Democratic side, ex-two term Gov. Jennifer Granholm is unlikely to run for the Senate. Both former Gov. Jim Blanchard and state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer have indicated that they will not become candidates.
Dark Horses – There are a couple of potential dark horse candidates who could pick up the slack for their respective parties if, for example, Rogers decides to remain in the House and Peters opts to challenge Gov. Rick Snyder (R) instead of running for the Senate.
For the Democrats, University of Michigan Board of Regents member Denise Illitch, daughter of Little Caesar’s Pizza founder and owner Mike Illitch, who also owns the Detroit Tigers baseball and Detroit Red Wings hockey franchises, is surveying the political landscape. She flirted with a run for governor in 2010, but wisely chose not to run in a year that evolved into a Republican political tsunami.
On the Republican side, two-term Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI-2) could be an outside possibility to run. He has strong candidate abilities, as evidenced with his original win in a crowded open seat primary back in 2010. Huizenga probably needs more time to develop a statewide fundraising operation and will be reluctant to give up his House seat after only two terms, but he is a viable candidate who has appeal to both conservatives and moderates.