Eyes already on 2016 in Michigan weeks before November election

Clinton1016-fotoThe end of the 2014 election cycle is near. The November election is just a couple weeks away. But the 2016 presidential election cycle is already gearing up. If you have any doubts, just take a look at the political star power making swings through the state.

On Thursday, it was former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Rochester on a mission to get Michigan Democrats fired up about candidate for governor Mark Schauer and candidate for U.S. Senate Gary Peters.

“With Mark and Gary, they will fight as hard for you as Carl Levin and John Dingell ever did. And that is really fighting hard, let me tell you,” Clinton said in front of a roaring crowd of thousands at Oakland University.

Earlier in the week, it was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rallying Southeast Michigan Republicans in Troy.

“Your governor needs to get reelected. Who’s with me on that?” Bush said to hundreds of cheering supporters.

“Budgets are balanced, reserves are created, jobs are being created because the business climate has improved, and Michigan is on the move again.”

It’s not just the Michigan candidates that hope to get a bump from these visits from national politicians. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are both considered likely presidential candidates in 2016. And yes, we’re already talking about that.

“I do think it’s fair to say that we’re in the midst of the 2016 cycle, even though the 2014 election hasn’t even occurred yet,” said Susan Demas, publisher of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter.

She says potential presidential candidates are already starting to build organizations in states that can help win their party’s nomination.

Demas says people interested in running for president are also hoping to generate excitement for those possible campaigns in competitive states. And she says Michigan does count as a competitive state.

“We have not voted for a Republican in six cycles, but it doesn’t mean that 2016 will go that way,” she said. “There are a lot of electoral votes at stake – 16. And so, nobody can afford to ignore Michigan.’

That’s a point Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer also made during Clinton’s visit this week. He says all the recent attention from political heavyweights means there’s a lot at stake in Michigan – now and in the future.

“Michelle Obama last week, Hillary this week, President Obama the final week – I think our friends are trying to tell us something, that Michigan matters,” said Schauer as the audience cheered.

Many polls show the race for governor is close. But that hasn’t stopped political insiders from speculating about a run for president by the incumbent.

Well, governor?

“No. What I would say is I’m focused on being the best governor of Michigan,” said Gov. Snyder on Thursday. “And we’ve got an election in November, and so I’m just staying focused on that.”

Well, it doesn’t hurt to ask.