Michigan Democrats are confident they can knock off Gov. Rick Snyder in 2014. But they just lost their star player, and no one appears eager to come off the bench.
Democrats have attacked Snyder relentlessly in recent months, convinced that his signing of right-to-work legislation late last year makes him electorally vulnerable. Leading the charge was State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, whose willingness to seize the spotlight confirmed the suspicions of Lansing insiders who have long expected her to run for governor. But following Whitmer's surprising announcement Wednesday that she won't enter the race, Democrats are suddenly without a surefire candidate. And no one seems eager to fill the void.
State Party Chair Mark Brewer, disappointed by Whitmer's decision, mentioned State Board of Education President John Austin as a potential candidate Wednesday. But Austin told Hotline On Call he is "not actively considering pursuing that now."
Austin added that he and other Democrats would have to assess "down the road" if a gubernatorial bid is worth pursuing -- possibly in six or eight months. He acknowledged the importance of an early start given the potential candidates' lack of name recognition. He also said Snyder's agenda over the coming year will factor into his decision.
Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., would not comment on the race, saying in a statement he is "focused on serving the families he was elected to represent."
Former Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Mich., who has been outspoken recently in his criticisms of Snyder, did not respond to requests for comment.