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Posted on Mon, May 10, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Washtenaw County's Alma Wheeler Smith drops out of race for Michigan governor

By Ryan J. Stanton

State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem Township, announced today she is dropping out of the Michigan gubernatorial race, leaving only two Democratic candidates vying for the nomination in the Aug. 3 primary.

Alma wheeler smith.JPG

Alma Wheeler Smith

Smith, 68, has not yet endorsed either of her rivals, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and state House Speaker Andy Dillon.

She told the Detroit Free Press today she shared a “concern of splitting the progressive vote and ending up with a candidate that does not represent core Democratic values.”

"Democrats need to unify behind a candidate, and I have come to believe that my continued candidacy would only serve to divide us further,” Smith added.

Tuesday is the deadline for candidates to submit petition signatures to appear on the August primary ballot. Smith said she was well on the path to collecting the 15,000 signatures needed to qualify, but decided not to submit them.

Smith acknowledged in a recent interview with that her campaign had struggled to garner financial support. But she remained confident her grassroots push for office was gaining momentum.

"The polls show that our momentum is growing well — that the others are kind of plateaued —and I intend to keep moving forward," she said last month. "We are working at raising money, always raising money. Unfortunately, until we do campaign finance reform, it is going to be about who gets the bucks."

Political pundits say Bernero is most likely to benefit from Smith's decision to abandon her bid because, like Smith, he is seen as a progressive, left-leaning candidate and is likely to pull votes from Smith's supporters. Dillon at times has alienated key Democratic constituencies.

"Alma Wheeler Smith is the kind of fighter we need involved in our effort to shake things up in state government and to get our priorities straight in this time of crisis," Bernero said in a statement released today, adding that Michigan Democrats should be proud of Smith for the gubernatorial campaign she ran.

"Alma is a friend, a colleague, and a fellow crusader in the fight to take Michigan back from the special interests and to stand up for the little guy," Bernero said. "She was a tough competitor in Michigan’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. She too has been a strong advocate for working families who are struggling against the banks and insurance companies. Alma has always stood up for what’s right and never backed down from a fight, no matter how long the odds."

Editor's note: will have more complete coverage of Smith's decision to abandon her bid for governor later.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Paul Taylor

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

I have one thing to say about those who are dissing Alma: haters gonna hate.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 1:43 p.m.

I am surprised it took her so long to find out that no one outside Ann Arbor would support her "progressive" ideas and policies. And like Freemind said in the first response to this thread, she is trying to portray herself as a martyr and a victim, both at the same time. Ian surprised that she didnt pull out the race card too.

Olan Owen Barnes

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Thank god - one less tax and spend person out in an era of a down economy. Private sector jobs are what is needed and we can not spend our way into nirvana or an up economy as 40% of every dollar spent is borrowed from China and others. The next generations are paying for our folly! Yes I know I put a plural on the word GENERATIONS.

scooter dog

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

Loose Lips,sink ships When you advocate raising taxes in this economy you get what you ask for.Everything I read about her was her desire to raise taxes,not very smart.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

Alma is a selfless and dedicated public servant who served our city and region very well as our State Senator for many years and then as a State Rep. Alma served ably as a director of my bank during a couple of years when she was out of office before rejoining the legislature and she is one of the few people in Lansing who actually know what the problems are and has solutions to fix some of them. For example, she had a symposium on why Michigan's roads are so screwed up and got to the bottom of what the problems are. Unfortunately, lobbyists, incompetent bureaucrats shielded by our governor and other special interests both inside and outside of government prevent the required solution from being applied! Unlike many of the politicians in our state, Alma is not a lawyer and has outside business experience. Alma has been a real estate investor and understands the challenges of small business people doing business in our state. While I wouldn't embrace every single position she has taken in her career (do you know a politician you do agree with 100%?), I would assert that many of the anonymous commenters here don't know Alma or her policy recommendations and reflexively attack her because of various labels they apply to her based on what they think she is, versus what she actually says. Alma has a lot of talent, knowledge and ability and Im sure there will be opportunities for her in service to our great state in the future.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

i forsee a republican governor next go around.

L. C. Burgundy

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

It's just as well to save her and her supporters money. Even if she had gotten the nomination, her chance of winning this fall was somewhere between zero and zero. Virg Bernero's chances are about as high. Andy Dillon has a slim chance, but Governor Blow-You-Away has done a lot of damage to the D side of the ticket already.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

@ topcat, looks like your pick of Andy dillon from a few months back is closer to getting the nod. i don't see how she could endorse anyone but him and save face. I still have whatever republican gets the nod against him though. Good luck. So, if she is term limited out does she get an appointment, come back to local politics, join the private sector, or retire? I'd pick retirment, she has a Cadillac benefit plan, it would make sense to enjoy it.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

There goes "the family business"...!


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 10:08 a.m.

Smith said she was well on the path to collecting the 15,000 signatures needed to qualify, but decided not to submit them. Translation: "I'm having trouble finding 15,000 other people who are committed to raising your taxes as much as I am."

Top Cat

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 9:47 a.m.

"Unfortunately, until we do campaign finance reform, it is going to be about who gets the bucks." Translation...individuals are not willing to freely donate to my campaign. So better that people should be forced to donate to a campaign like mine through the mandate of taxation.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

So she played the martyr and the victim card at the same time? Apparently this has nothing to do with her actually losing in the polls.