Ann Arbor man looks to wage Independent campaign for governor of Michigan
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.
"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 AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.