The Republicans look forward – certainly not literally – to a gubernatorial contest that could tatter the party’s chances well before November 2018 rolls around.

The race to replace term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder on the GOP side will almost certainly evolve into a standoff between Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who enjoys a nice-guy image, and the hard-charging Attorney General Bill Schuette. The result may be 16 months of Calley and Schuette pummeling each other in the primary election campaign as the unpopular Snyder meekly stands aside and serves as a punching bag for the Democrats. Expect the word Flint to come up daily.

Though it would certainly serve as an aberration to Snyder’s mostly nonpartisan approach, one political observer suggests that the solution is for Snyder to step down. Dennis Lennox, a GOP political consultant and freelance writer, proposes that Snyder can resign with dignity, turning over the reins to his lieutenant.

That would somewhat remove Snyder as a factor in 2018 and send Schuette to the sidelines.

The idea is that the governor would take an early out, cite the improvements in the Michigan economy under his watch, and then hope that Calley, with a free ride to the nomination, could prevent a Democrat from succeeding Snyder and dismantling his policies.

Certainly, Schuette supporters would scoff at such a suggestion. Democratic backers of the two likely candidates to vie for their party’s nomination – former state Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer and Congressman Dan Kildee – would likely portray a Snyder resignation as a desperation move, or worse.

But Lennox makes the case that the elevation of Calley to interim governor status presents the smoothest path for the GOP to retain the governor’s mansion:

“Calley would then become governor, putting him in a much better position to win, as no first-term GOP governor has lost since Kim Sigler in 1948. Being the loyal Republican partisan that he is, Schuette would be unlikely to challenge an incumbent, even a so-called accidental governor.”

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