Democrats seek candidate for governor, could Schauer be answer?

Feb 14, 2013

Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he hasn’t decided if he will run for governor next year. The Battle Creek Democrat also served in the state House and Senate for a total of 12 years. He has become the subject of intense speculation since Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer announced that she will not run for governor in 2014. 

Mark Schauer - file photo
Credit The Associated Press

WMUK’s Gordon Evans spoke with Western Michigan University Political Science Professor John Clark about the 2014 governor’s race and Mark Schauer’s prospects as a candidate. Some highlights:

Schauer’s Chances

Clark says in many ways, Schauer is well-positioned to run for governor. He has experience in Congress and the state Legislature and was the Democratic Leader in the state Senate. He has something of a network in the state, and that should allow him to raise money.

But Clark says there are many unknowns, including who else will run for governor. Some strong challengers have said they won’t run, including Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer. Clark says it doesn’t help Schauer that he lost his most recent election, even though it was a Republican leaning Congressional district in a strong year for the GOP. Clark says Schauer may not have statewide name recognition. But there aren’t many Democrats who do.

John Clark
Credit Western Michigan University

Searching for a Democrat in 2014

Gongwer Editor Zach Gorchow recently blogged about the lack of Democratic alternatives (see February 11th entry) if Schauer decides not to run for governor. Clark says there isn’t a “deep Democratic bench” in Michigan, which he says shows some of the party’s systemic challenges. Democrats have won the state at the Presidential level for several election cycles. But Republicans have the control over drawing district lines for Congressional and state Legislative seats. Plus the statewide offices in Michigan are not voted on the same years as President, which hurts the Democrats chances. But Clark says the party has to win those elections to develop a reservoir of candidates who can win a statewide race.

Clark says it raises the question of whether Democrats can take advantage of an opportunity to win the governor’s race in 2014. The Detroit Free Press reported on a recent poll from EPIC-MRA which shows a big drop in Snyder’s approval rating since the fall. Clark says it shows that the Democrats have an opportunity, but still have to find the right candidate to unseat an incumbent.

Fundamentals of the Race

Snyder hasn’t formally announced that he will run for re-election, but if he does, a couple of factors could work in his favor. Snyder would have the advantage of running as an incumbent, and 2014 is a non-Presidential election year when the party out of the White House normally does well. That could be good news for Snyder and other Republicans. Clark says 2010 was a good example of how the party in the White House can suffer in a non-Presidential election year. Many Democrats did not turn out for the 2010 election. Among the candidates it hurt was Mark Schauer, who was running for re-election to Congress.