Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson appears to be subtly ramping up a run for the governor’s office.

Her appearance at a United Auto Workers event on Tuesday bolsters suspicions Benson is running without actually running. Democratic candidates typically seek UAW endorsements and donations when seeking office.

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Current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be term-limited after completing her second term in 2026, and Benson hasn’t been shy in the past about replacing her.


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“A lot of people have talked to me about it,” Benson said last September. “I go to many events and people come up to me and ask me to run, encourage me to run,” she said. “It is something that I will look closely at with my family.”

“I’ve taken a state agency from being the butt of jokes to being a model for how a state agency can run,” Benson said in January. “And I really want to see if we can make all of state government work that well, and truly lead Michigan from a perspective of a common vision of who we want to be and operationalize the state government that serves everyone effectively and equally.”

Since then, she has dropped fewer hints, seemingly preferring to keep political pundits guessing.

That is until Tuesday’s easily interpreted UAW appearance, which followed her participation at the annual Edmund Pettis Bridge Walk in Selma, Ala., in early March. While she was in Selma, Benson also visited with her former co-workers at the SPLC.

Benson’s career is marked by several stops along the nation’s most liberal institutions. She served as a legal assistant for National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg, was a summer associate with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Additionally she attended Wellesley College and received her Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School.

Benson has recently appeared twice with failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, once at Columbia University and another time at Wellesley.

As reported last week in The Midwesterner, Benson’s husband Ryan Friedrichs registered as a lobbyist with the State of Michigan in 2022 to represent The Related Companies. One year before Friedrichs registered, Gov. Whitmer signed a fiscal year 2023 budget that included $100 million for a project developed by The Related Companies.

Also reported by The Midwesterner on Wednesday is the scheme orchestrated by President Joe Biden, Benson, and the U.S. Small Business Administration that would allow the SBA to register Michigan voters online and in person.

Benson told veteran Michigan political reporter Tim Skubic last fall that she would not make an announcement until after the November 2024 election. Other Democrats potentially vying for the 2026 gubernatorial nomination include Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, and Royal Oak state Sen. Mallory McMorrow.