Whitmer files to run for Michigan governor in 2018

In an Oct. 12, 2014 file photo, Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, foreground, addresses the media following a town hall meeting in Detroit. The former Democratic legislative leader filed paperwork Tuesday to run for Michigan governor in 2018. (AP photo)

LANSING, Mich. — Former Democratic legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer filed paperwork Tuesday to run for Michigan governor in 2018, making her the first person to announce her candidacy to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

In an email to supporters, the former prosecutor from East Lansing said she wants to “build a Michigan with opportunities that rival those from our past.” Whitmer said she is no stranger to fights and that Michigan leaders for too long “have been content to manage our decline.”

Whitmer, 45, was a lawmaker from 2001 through 2014, and led Senate Democrats in the minority for four years. During that time, the GOP made Michigan a right-to-work state and enacted other conservative policies she fought, including a law requiring residents or businesses that want health insurance coverage for elective abortions to buy extra coverage. She also criticized Republicans’ delay in expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law.

“If we want change, we can’t wait for Washington to solve our problems. And we can’t elect the same old politicians, on the same old platforms and expect a different result. We can do better. We deserve better,” she said.

When speaking against the “rape insurance” legislation in 2013, Whitmer disclosed in a speech on the Senate floor that she had been raped years before. In 2014, she formed a nonprofit focused on women’s health care.

Most recently, Whitmer — a lawyer — served as the six-month interim prosecutor in Ingham County after the previous longtime prosecutor resigned amid being amid charges for paying prostitutes for sex. Her term ended last week.

She was expected to speak with reporters today. The creation of a candidate committee allows her to begin raising and spending money immediately.

Another Democrat considering a 2018 gubernatorial run is third-term U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township, whose profile has grown during Flint’s man-made water crisis.

His spokesman, Mitchell Rivard, said in a statement that “Kildee appreciates the encouragement he is getting from across the state to run for Governor. Right now, he is focused on representing his constituents in Congress, and in the coming months he will make a decision about where he can do the most good…”