Mike Kowall has become the third Oakland County politician in recent months to back out on announced bids for federal office during the 2012 election cycle.
Kowall — a first-term Republican whose state Senate district represents Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, and West Bloomfield — had said last summer that he intended to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the newly drawn 11th Congressional District seat. U.S. Rep Thaddeus McCotter (R-Waterford, White Lake, Highland, Milford, Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Walled Lake, Wixom) resides in the new district, but last summer had launched a bid for the GOP’s presidential nomination. After McCotter ended his presidential campaign in September, he announced he would be seeking to represent the new 11th Congressional District.
As recently as last week, Kowall said he was still working on filing candidate paperwork with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office and U.S. Federal Elections Commission.
Yet last night, Wednesday, Jan. 18, posts on the Facebook pages for his Congressional campaign, as well as his official state Senate offices declared that his candidacy was suspended.
Reached by phone immediately following Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address, Kowall said the decision was purely personal, not political.
“We decided that it’s not the right time,” he said. “The stars and moon have to be lined up. It’s not only just you (in a political campaign), it’s your kids and grand-kids. We’re going to stay here in Michigan and move the state forward.”
Kowall, a former White Lake Township supervisor who also served in the state House of Representatives before taking local office, was first elected to the state’s upper legislative chamber in 2010. As chairman of the state Senate Economic Development Committee, he holds sway in the upper chamber over legislation impacting the state’s economy, including the controversial proposal by Snyder to build a new bridge from Detroit to Canada.
McCotter’s political team could not be reached for comment prior to this posting, but Kowall’s departure from the race marks a development that dilutes what was supposed to be one of the more closely-watched campaigns this election cycle.
Although Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party favorite, has entered the 11th Congressional District’s Republican primary contest, as well, the race was largely seen as a showdown between McCotter, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 2002, and Kowall.
Dr. Syed Taj, a member of the Canton Township Board of Trustees, has also entered the race as a Democrat contesting for his party’s nomination for the newly-drawn 11th Congressional District.
In July, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John P. McCulloch, a Republican, had declared candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow, but bowed out of the race after former Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra entered the fray a few weeks later.
The 2012 primary election will be held on Aug. 7, while the general election is set for Nov. 6.
State senators serve four-year terms and are paid $79,650 annually.
U.S. representatives serve two-year terms and are currently paid $174,000 annually.