Rep. Dan Kildee Will Not Run for Governor in 2018

May 9, 2017

Kildee decides against running for Michigan governor in 2018. 

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee announced Tuesday he will not run for governor in 2018 and instead will seek a fourth term in Congress, foregoing what might have been a tough battle with former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer for the Democratic nomination.

"Right now, staying in Congress is where I know that I can make the biggest impact for you," Kildee, of Flint Township, said in an email to supporters.

Kildee's decision leaves Whitmer, of East Lansing, and Abdul El-Sayed, the former director of Detroit's health department, as the main candidates in a Democratic field that also includes lesser-known candidates who have not been as visible.

Whitmer, 45, was a state lawmaker for 14 years and has landed some early endorsements from labor unions since entering the race in January and energizing Democrats after President Donald Trump's surprise victory in Michigan. El-Sayed, 32, is casting himself as the more progressive candidate who can appeal to Bernie Sanders loyalists and anti-establishment activists.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder cannot run again due to term limits.

The 58-year-old Kildee said after considering President Donald Trump's "dangerous policies" and watching majority Republicans last week pass health care legislation and begin to unwind stricter financial rules created after the 2008 crisis, "it became clear to me that I'm not ready to turn away from these important fights." Eyeing the governorship, he had been traveling outside his Democratic-leaning district to other parts of Michigan since the summer of 2015.

In 2018, Democrats are hoping to end what will be the GOP's eight-year control of the governor's office, Legislature and other statewide offices.

To date, no high-profile Republicans have officially entered the race, though Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has hinted at an announcement and Attorney General Bill Schuette is expected to run.