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Posted on Thu, May 30, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Ann Arbor man looks to wage Independent campaign for governor of Michigan

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor resident Robin Sanders publicly announced on Thursday his intention to run as an Independent candidate for governor of Michigan in 2014.

The 58-year-old state corrections officer's declaration comes just two days after former Democratic congressman Mark Schauer of Battle Creek announced he'll be challenging Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who will be seeking a second four-year term in 2014.


Robin Sanders

Sanders, who has never run for public office, told in a phone interview on Thursday he wants to give Michiganders a nonpartisan choice on the ballot.

"I'm going to give it a shot," he said. "I'm looking for interest at this time. Right now I'm a one-man campaign and doing my research for how to conduct a campaign."

Sanders said announcing his intentions to run, combined with the launch of a campaign website, is "the poor man's way" of polling the entire state.

Although he said doesn't have a great deal of money and he's relatively unknown to the general public, it's his hope voters will consider his qualifications.

"I have a much broader real-world experience," he said, comparing himself to Schauer and Snyder. "I think I stand out if you do a side-by-side comparison of us."

Sanders has lived in Ann Arbor for 14 years, and before that in Ypsilanti for six years. He has spent nearly 20 years as a state corrections officer at four different facilities and is in the process of retiring from the Woodland Center Correctional Facility in Whitmore Lake.

He touts his background as the financial secretary for the Knights of Columbus Council in Ann Arbor, and 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy, including combat tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm.

Raised in Romulus, he attended Washtenaw Community College, majoring in correctional science, and is attending the college now in pursuit of a certificate in computer systems technology.

His wife Pamela is a Michigan Department of Corrections dietician. He has three sons, a step-son who is autistic and a step-daughter, as well as three grandchildren.

He notes he also has a mentally impaired brother and has become keenly aware of the special needs for impaired adults and children.

Sanders said he hasn't begun trying to collect the 30,000 signatures he'd need by next summer to get on the ballot. He's first seeing if there's any interest in his campaign.

"The main thing I am concerned about is gathering that grassroots support," he said. "They're going to have unlimited resources. I'm just a middle-class guy. I'm struggling just like a lot of other middle-class families are in this economy. I'm asking for other people to pitch in with me."

Sanders said he'd be willing to put about $10,000 of his own money into waging a gubernatorial campaign if there's sufficient interest and support from the public. He said that's something he couldn't have pictured himself doing a few short years ago.

"If you would have told me just a few years ago that I should run for office, I would have suggested you talk to your doctor about changing your meds," he said.

If elected, Sanders said he would do what needs to be done as governor "in a totally unbiased manner for all citizens, regardless of political, social, religious or economic viewpoints."

His website is light on positions on issues at the moment, but he said he's noticed a lack of concern for public safety in Lansing and he'd be a strong advocate for public safety. He said he sees both good and bad in both major political parties.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Robin Sanders

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

Donbee, Everyone is entitled to their own onpions/beliefs, however, I must take issue with yours and others comments. 1. To make everyone a State employee is not something that I ahve ever said or even implied. 2. Returning pensions to all State employees is also a distortion of my position. My position on these issues is as follows: Everyone who has invested time and effort to become a professional, private and public sector, should have pensions. To imply that I want to dig our State in the hole financially is not a kind thing to say about anyone. I am not asking anyone to vote for me blindly or out of anger against political parties. All I am asking is for everyone to look an objective look at my background,and engage in a polite and intelligent discussion with me. If they are not satified with me at that point, then don't vote for me. Can we please dispense with the name calling and devisive comments?


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Tell us about fracking buddy.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 7:59 a.m.

My biggest worries, after listening to the NPR story and seeing the information here, as well as his website is: 1) The idea that he will make everyone possible a state employee, insourcing as many jobs as possible to the state government. 2) The fact that he wants to return all state employees to a pension plan (note both he and his wife are state employees). We are already over $50 billion in the hole on state pension funds - more than the WHOLE budget for the state for a year. If we doubled Income taxes it would take 18+ years to dig out of this hole. Now this guy wants to reopen the pit and make it bigger. Unbiased in economic viewpoint? Well if you are state employee or a retired state employee, your viewpoint is going to be "got mine" if he wins, the rest of us will see his economic view point annually on tax day.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

His intentions are undoubtedly honorable and he has every right to run, but he has no chances of prevailing and all his candidacy will do is split the anti-Snyder vote and help the incumbent. We may not like that, but that is reality.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

Or he may pull the right wing fringies away from Snyder. Not sure where this guy's politics are.

David Cahill

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Any candidacy which divides the right-wing vote has my support. 8-)


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I just hope that the "AA Snyder Effect" doesn't hurt him...


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

I find it interesting an article is written about a man who says, I'm going to run for Governor! Yet he hasn't made any step beyond that statement (besides a vague website) nor has he stated any positions (see his political views on his website--none). I also find it interesting (in a very scary way) that people are quick to say they will vote for him. Now he may get it together, gather the signatures needed, and come out with clear positions. In which case, I certainly think an article is warranted. But until then, why all the attention? Why so quick to say you will vote for him? Unless people are being facetious...but alas, I'm afraid that is wishful thinking on my part. So let me end this with: I'm running for Governor! Ryan, when can I expect my interview?


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

I wouldn't NEVER vote for a tea party puppet. We have enough of those in MI already!

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

We know how you vote. Straight party ticket.

Seasoned Cit

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Nice that you gve hin some reognition and actually listed his name. If he's from A2 and has worked for the State, I'd say he's as qualified just like Obama was to be President. Only problem is that he sure won't be getting any free help from the Press.. just as you have demonstrated.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

It may interest folks to know that Mr. Sanders is a proponent of widely expanded fracking in Michigan. It will interest others to know he does not support same-sex marriage because it "goes against natural law."


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

The foolish Dems that voted for Snyder won't be doing that again. Independent corrections officer smells like Tea Party to me so run on runner! Mr. Schauer may have a chance after all!

Usual Suspect

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

"The foolish Dems that voted for Snyder won't be doing that again." But the smart ones will.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Tea got it. He's against same sex marriage and women


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

I'm ready to start voting for the best candidate that is running in neither the republican nor democrat parties! It's not that the two parties candidates are bad, but they are told how to vote by the "parties" and I never voted for them!

Mr. Me

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 6:37 a.m.

All the commenters are putting this guy down are the reason only sociopaths want to run for office.

Kai Petainen

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 5:19 a.m.

Regardless of his political stance... I may agree or disagree with it... or I have no idea what it is.. I find it admirable when people run for a political office. It's democracy and it's nice to see it in action. I wish him the best (as I'll wish all the candidates the best)


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 2:11 a.m.

Well if he can collect the signatures....go for it. He might shake up the race a bit!

Claude Kershner

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

Ypsi: Snyder in a landslide. I'm still offering the beer bet....


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

This reminds me when Minnesotans elected Jesse Ventura as governor. They were probably shocked the next morning when they woke up and heard the election results. Thousands of people must have said the same thing...."Holy #$%&, I only voted for Jesse as a joke. He actually won!"


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 2 a.m.

Jesse had name recognition and charisma before he ever got in the race. I already can't remember this guy's name.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

Would be nice to have a choice other than the two "bought and paid for parties".


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

He's got my vote!!!

Fresh Start

Thu, May 30, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

I might wager that pigs will fly before this guy gets elected!


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

Half of you will vote for him sight unseen.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

Which half?


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

"Sanders said he hasn't begun trying to collect the 30,000 signatures he'd need by next summer to get on the ballot. He's first seeing if there's any interest in his campaign." I'm going with "no" for the answer to that question. Unless interest is along the line of a human interest story. Governor? Sure, KofC treasurer is almost the same as a CEO. Yep. Go with that.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

I think Mr. Sanders has it backwards. Doing the background work and developing a platform to convince people you are the right candidate might generate better support than his approach of: I'm running for Governor, are you interested? If so, I'll come up with some ideas!


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

You're right - the odds are slim to none.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

To be honest with you, if he came by my house and asked me to sign his dealeo, I would do it. If he wants to run...sure. If he wants to be the gov? Well, people in hell want ice water.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Look, I agree that he may have a hard time getting the signatures needed. But, before you go disparaging him, look again: He is a military veteran that has participated in combat tours. He has an extensive experience in corrections and law enforcement. He is keenly in touch with the middle class and the problems faced by normal people. I don't know if he has all the traits one would want in the Governor, but he is as qualified as needed by our laws and probably more than most. Good for him to want the job because I sure as heck wouldn't want it. So maybe this is a joke and maybe not but at least I'll give him a chance to explain how exactly he thinks he can make things better for our State.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

I'm all for opportunity to chose someone on stands versus political party jockeying, too bad not enough others feel the same way. Good luck sir - and mentor someone along the way to follow in your footsteps in the future.

Top Cat

Thu, May 30, 2013 : 8 p.m.

The quote "You can't beat somebody with nobody" still applies and especially here.

Rod Johnson

Thu, May 30, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

I think you have Top Cat's nobodies and somebodies wrong.

Usual Suspect

Thu, May 30, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Was a nobody. This time around he has a record of success to run on (i.e, the state is actually improving for a change) and is now a somebody, opinions of local liberal sheep notwithstanding.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

That may be true but only if you consider the 2010 gubernatorial election as a battle of nobodies. The real worry is that if Robin Sanders should get on the ballot that he would siphon votes from Mark Schauer and cost Schauer the election. Obviously Robin Sanders does not like Rick Snyder but I do not know why he does not like Mark Schauer.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Fair winds and following seas, brother!


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

24 hrs ago I made a neutral, innocuous post of a positive greeting btw those who have been to sea and, What? Four (4) regulars vote me down. What's up with that? Are yins political regulars so hair-trigger that ye hate the U.S. Navy?


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Snyder has done a awesome job with the mess he was left. I'm voting Snyder :)


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

McMansion builder- Pulte, exits Michigan:


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Where are the jobs Guvner? Pall is leaving Michigan. Thanks for tax break Popeye!


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Liberal Ann Arbor with its mighty educators have spoke. It's ok to tax my savings for retirement as I have no pension just savings but when some union pension gets taxed its not FAIR. Well it has not been fair for a long time! No need to worry about same sex health care , coming soon to a state near you is OBAMACARE. Smoke that one VERACITY, in fact fire up the bong. Those that can do , those that can't teach goes a long way , by the way I love Charter Schools.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 10:34 a.m.

Veracity - this state is turning around under Snyders guidance. I agree with all of the things you have listed as his accomplishments. Maybe he should use your post as a campaign ad, you summarize his lack of giveaways nicely. Financial responsibility and accountability is obviously not something that sits well with you.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

Jeez I wasn't even slamming Snyder. But, what does it mean that he's done an "awesome job"? Think how many times you hear "awesome" in a single day. It's overused, everywhere, all the time. It's awesome, they're awesome, that's awesome, totally awesome, thanks for being awesome. I'm just saying, can we get a new word now? Maybe we can bring back groovy. Or radical.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

How can you not love the word "vernacular"?


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

"awesome" = the most meaningless and overused word in our vernacular.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Awesome as in awful I will believe. Unless you are a wealthy crony I doubt that you can list much of what Governor Snyder has done that benefits you. Meanwhile this is what he has done for for everyone else: Cut state funds to schools and municipalities in order to pay for the $1.7 billion reduction in business tax; Signed into law the first taxation of retirees' pensions; Established an Emergency Manager Act that disenfranchises local governments and allows one state-appointed person to cancel contracts, establish other contracts, sell off municipal assets and set all rules for government operations; Restricted women's rights to health care, abortions and access to contraceptives; Blocked gay rights in higher education institutions; Reduced the duration for which the unemployed can receive unemployment insurance payments; and Failed to create employment for the remaining 400,000 unemployed Michigan citizens. Robin Sanders may not have the experience nor knowledge needed to be a good governor but I can understand why just any Joe would want to challenge Governor Snyder's reelection effort.

Mr. Ed

Thu, May 30, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

He has my vote!


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Me too!


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

Well, if a talking horse is voting for him, he's obviously the best candidate.