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Michigan Republicans are picking a presidential nominee this week, but 2018 isn't far away

Jul 19, 2016

  Michigan delegates to the Republican National Convention are focused on picking a presidential nominee.  

But some of them are also thinking about the Michigan governor’s race in 2018.

They are selecting a Republican presidential nominee in Cleveland, but 2018's Michigan governor's race is looming

The house band at the House of Blues played oldies Sunday night while Michigan delegates mixed and mingled.  

The event was one of many during the lead-up to the four-day Republican National Convention in Cleveland. It was hosted by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

It’s the kind of event that Michigan’s governor would usually host. And that raises the question: Is this a sign that Calley is setting the groundwork for a run for the top job himself?

Calley squashes the speculation. Sort of.

“One election cycle at a time,” Calley said during an interview in the lobby of the House of Blues. “We’ll get through 2016 and then at that point we’ll look ahead to 2018 and evaluate what the right options are there.”

And while the House of Blues has a nice stage, another Michigan Republican had a bigger, better one. 

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley partied with Michigan RNC delegates on Sunday

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is the only Michigander speaking at this week’s convention. He is also expected to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

“Well good afternoon, my name is Bill Schuette, your on-duty attorney general from the great state of Michigan,” Schuette began, before talking about Flint’s water crisis and calling for support of law enforcement. After a brief two minutes, he exited the spotlight.

Schuette was very willing to talk about the 2016 election. But he was quick to change the subject if questions come up about 2018.

Attorney General Bill Schuette spoke to the Republican National Convention on Monday

“I think a lot of folks get excited or enthused or get focused on the timing,” said Schuette. “2016 is a big election. We have to have big expectations, big goals, that’s the only way you win. So I am all in in 2016 and we’ll have plenty of time for 2017 to talk about the future.”

But at least one long-time political observer believes the 2018 governor’s race is not far from the minds of Schuette or Calley.

Susan Demas is the editor of Inside Michigan Politics. She said the RNC is a good platform for both men to meet with potential campaign donors and to be highly visible to other party leaders.

“Their goal is to get out there and to meet with people and present themselves as the future of Michigan,” said Demas.

After he stepped off the stage at the Republican National Convention, Bill Schuette walked over to where the Michigan delegates were sitting. He says the experience of speaking to his party’s convention was an honor.

“I was very honored to represent our state, and give a Michigan message to all the delegates gathered here and across the country. I was very honored,” Schuette told Michigan Radio.

But when asked if he would do it again in four years as governor, Schuette laughed.

“Maybe they’ll ask me back Thursday night if I did a good enough job today. Let’s get through ’16 first.”