Governor’s race begins

By Annie Stodola

Although the 2010 Michigan gubernatorial race isn’t until November, several candidates have already announced their intentions to run for the seat.

Current Gov. Jennifer Granholm is legally prohibited from running for a third term, which has left the pool open to a wide variety of other contenders.

So far for the democrats, only Alma Wheeler Smith has officially announced her candidacy. Smith is a current State representative and a former State senator. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She is a member of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee. Among her top priorities are health care reform and education. 

Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, former state representative John Freeman and state senator Hansen Clark withdrew from the race earlier this month.

Others who have publicly discussed running for the Democratic nomination include Virg Bernero, Andy Dillon and George Perles. Bernero is the mayor of Lansing, Andy Dillon is the current state Speaker of the House and Perles was a former Michigan State University football coach. None of them have officially announced candidacy as of press time.

Others who are considering candidacy include Bart Stupak, Dan Kildee, Daniel Mulhern, Debbie Stabenow, Denise Illtch, Jim Barcia and Joe Dumars.

For the Republican Party, seven candidates have announced their candidacy so far. Additionally, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced her candidacy but later withdrew in order to run for lieutenant governor with Mike Bouchard.

Announced candidates for the Republican nomination are Mike Bouchard, Mike Cox, Tom George, Peter Hoekstra, David Kniffen, Tim Rujan and Rick Snyder. 

Bouchard, current Oakland County Sheriff, is also a former state senator. He said his main priority is to create jobs and revamp the economy in order to prevent young people from leaving. 

“Like many parents, I have a child in college,” Bouchard said. “It would sadden me greatly if she had to leave to find a job. If it’s her choice to leave, that’s one thing. If that’s her only option, that’s unacceptable.”

Other issues he plans to tackle are controlling spending and fixing the tax system to encourage local business. Bouchard is speaking at Oakland University on Monday, Jan. 25.

Mike Cox, is the state attorney general and graduated from the University of Michigan law school. 

Cox is also aiming to keep college graduates in the state, particularly by cutting the Michigan Business Tax in half and eliminating the 2007 personal income tax increase. Questions for Cox can be directed to his Facebook or Twitter pages.

Tom George is a state senator and a former state representative. He aims to work on reforming the health care system and making education a priority. He also is planning to create a Detroit/Wayne County Redevelopment Authority to help the area develop a degree of competitiveness with other metro areas.

Peter Hoekstra, a graduate of Hope College and the University of Michigan, is a current United States representative serving Michigan. His “100 Jobs/1,000 Miles” plan will involve him working 100 jobs and biking 1,000 miles across the state during his campaign in order to hear from as many citizens as possible. He is concerned with reforming taxes and the economy.

David Kniffen, founder of the social networking site LeapNGo, mainly wants to focus on education and the economy, particularly creating jobs and restructuring the tax system.

Tim Rujan, a former county commissioner, said education is something that needs to be made a priority. 

“Basically, I’m looking at reforming  tax structure and allowing things like the Michigan Promise Grant, which was needlessly eliminated, to come back,” Rujan said. “Education is right at the top of the list of things we need to change.”

He also hopes to reduce the amount of government influence on personal lives.

Rick Snyder, former executive vice-president of Gateway, is also running. Snyder is the founding Chairman of Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development organization. Snyder’s top three campaign principles are to create more and better jobs, reform the tax system, and increase state government efficiency.

The Republican candidate will be chosen in the August primary.

Calls to the offices of Cox, George, Hoekstra, Kniffen, Smith, and Snyder were not returned as of press time.