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Bill Schuette opts against Michigan Supreme Court run

LANSING — Former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette will not run for the state Supreme Court or any other elected office in 2020, the Midland Republican said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with Bridge Magazine. 

Schuette’s decision ends months of speculation over his 2020 plans to extend a lengthy career in public service that culminated in a failed bid for governor last year. 

“It’s just not my race,” Schuette said of the Michigan Supreme Court contest to succeed retiring Justice Steven Markman, a Republican nominee whose departure could shift the balance of power on the 4-3 GOP majority court. 

Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, a Democratic nominee, is also up for re-election but will have the weight of an incumbency designation next to her name on the 2020 ballot.

Schuette would have given the Michigan GOP a well-known name on the ballot to defend its narrow majority on the state’s highest court, which is tasked with settling high-profile legal disputes that often impact policy and politics. 

Anticipation of a potential Schuette run mounted this week when the Midland Republican County Party announced that its fall barbecue would honor the former attorney general and feature a “surprise announcement.”

“Maybe it’s talking about the food or the beer,” Schuette joked on Wednesday morning. “I’m not announcing for any elected office in 2020.”

Instead, Schuette said he intends to help Michigan Republicans maintain their majority in the state House — he’s hosting a fundraiser for House Speaker Lee Chatfied on Thursday in Midland — and work toward President Donald Trump’s re-election next fall. 

“I’m going to help in some fashion, but whether its informal or formalized doesn’t matter,” he said of the presidential campaign. “I’m going to help the team.”

While he plans to remain active in politics, Schuette this week helped kick off the 29th annual Michigan Harvest Gathering he founded in 1991 to help raise food and funds for emergency needs.  He’s said he’s also doing some “private sector work as well.”

Schuette won the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2018 but lost to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by nearly 10 percentage points in the general election.

His potential run for the state Supreme Court was “the hottest speculation on the island” at last month’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, according to conservative Detroit News columnist Ingrid Jacques. 

Schuette previously served on the Michigan Court of Appeals after working in Congress and the state Legislature.

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