Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Schuette 2018? The Man Who Could Be Michigan's Next Governor

Attorney General Bill Schuette celebrates his 2010 victory with his family, fistpumping his son Will, now a Georgetown student.

SCHUETTE 2018? The Man Who Could Be Michigan's Next Governor

By Brandon Hall

(Email him at


Few retired members of Congress would ever think about abandoning a chance at a lucrative lobbying contract in order to serve in their state legislature.

However, four years out of Congress, that's just what Bill Schuette did-he was elected to the State Senate. (His 1990 loss to Carl Levin is Schuette's only political defeat.)

For Schuette, the desire to serve runs deep. His resume reads "like a boss" as the kids say, an impressive body of work spanning almost every facet of Michigan government.

Winston Churchill said "“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." So before we look at 2018, let's look at Bill Schuette's career.

Schuette's a Hoya, graduating from Georgetown-his son Will now attends the D.C. school.

He was a delegate to the MI GOP State Convention at 21-and by 31, he ws elected to Congress.

To win that race, he beat an incumbent Democrat.

He was re-elected twice, but then lost to Carl Levin for U.S. Senate in 1990.

From 1991-1993, he served as Gov. Engler's Agriculture Director.

In 1994, Schuette was elected to the State Senate. Schuette stayed there until 2003, where he became a judge on Michigan's Court of Appeals.

In 2008, he memorably chaired the anti medical marijuana campaign, infamously debating Barb Byrum about the issue. 

Schuette admitted smoking pot, and Byrum owned him, noting "it wasn't a gateway drug for you, Bill!" (I wonder who the lucky guy was who got to have a session with Bill back in the day!?)

In 2010, he was elected Attorney General. He was re-elected in 2014.

Schuette is known to pour coffee for guests at events he hosts and for media interviews. It's a fantastic tool to engage people, and Schuette is known for doing it since he first ran for office decades ago.

In preparation for 2018, Schuette has been keeping busy. He has sent staff members to GOP county conventions to thank delegates and spread Schuette's message, also reminding them he is still around.

He has been heavily lobbying the legislature in the lame duck, encouraging Michiganders to oppose State Rep. Joe Haveman's corrections reform bills.

He has sent two different Christmas cards to activists across the state, and is now gearing up for a big breakfast event at Gov. Snyder's inauguration. He has also held events at the MIGOP convention, and has been doing Lincoln Day dinners across the state his entire term in office.

If one needed any proof that Schuette was a candidate, look no further than his MLive BallotBash interview. Go to the 21 minute mark and listen to him talk about pot reform. He is smartly shifting from anti pot crusader to moderate pot watchdog-he may even be open to legalized regulation, depending on how the bill is written.

This is no subtle change in rhetoric-this is a monumental shift. And Schuette, the brilliant political tactician he is, even gets a "keep pot away from kids" bit in there-he appeases multiple sides of the debate with his nuanced answer...

He has some work to do on the gay marriage front, but it's an easy fix there. Get the government out of marriage in order to protect churches from being forced to do something, yet let gays (and interested straights) enter into private civil marriage contracts. Or some deviation. He will gain libertarian and independent support, and would hold his conservative base. The only issue they fault him for is "Baker Farms," and he has a few years to handle those folks.

Schuette could end up in a heated primary with someone like Lt. Gov. Calley... That would be interesting... And in the general, perhaps someone like Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan?

Whatever happens, things are going to be interesting...  


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

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