Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson doesn’t want to talk about her upcoming campaign for governor, but her recent comments at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference say it all.

Benson denied that she’s angling for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s job when confronted by The Detroit News, then touted her perceived qualifications to replace her in 2026.

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“I firmly don’t want to be a candidate for anything when doing this job in this moment, and I love the job that I have,” Benson said. “But certainly I’ve really enjoyed, among other things, overseeing the Department of State – the agency that interacts with more citizens than any other than perhaps (the Department of Health and Human Services), and doing it well.”

After the November election, Benson said she’ll be looking to expand her influence beyond the Secretary of State.

“I’d like to see all of our agencies operate as efficiently and as transparently as ours does,” she said, “and so that type of work, I’ll be looking more into after we get through the cycle.”

Those comments are the latest obvious sign that Benson is aiming for the governor’s mansion.

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Late last month, a “really excited” Benson cast herself as a “purposeful warrior” to announce her new book rehashing the 2020 election that’s “both a firsthand account of what it was like to have a front row seat to a nationally coordinated effort to undo the fair and legitimate results of a Presidential election, and an inspiring roadmap for how we, in these divisive, uncertain times, can channel our fears and frustrations into fighting as warriors on behalf of ourselves and our community.”

Clearly, Benson wants to be the driver on that road trip, with other signs in May that she may already be campaigning for union endorsements and donations.

“The power of the people will always be greater than the people in power,” she posted to X after a talk with the United Auto Workers on April 23. “Proud to join @UAW Region 1A today to celebrate the power found when we work together and fight for fairness – in the workplace and at the ballot box!”

Benson’s comments at the Mackinac Policy Conference also track with her response to a question about what she’s planning when her term ends in 2026, and a term-limited Whitmer leaves office.

“I’ve taken a state agency from being the butt of jokes to being a model for how a state agency can run,” she said at a January forum hosted by the Association of American Law Schools in Washington, D.C. “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.”

Those comments followed others in September, when Benson told WJBK “a lot of people have talked to me about” running for governor.

“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.”

In the meantime, Benson has a full schedule stumping for President Joe Biden in Michigan and beyond, defending against multiple lawsuits alleging violations of state and federal laws, spreading false claims about voting, and pushing for legislation to limit investigations of fraud in the 2024 elections.

At the same time, she’s raising millions in political donations, including more than $1 million in six-figure donations from out of state mega donors.

“It’s going to be a messy year,” Benson predicted at the D.C. forum in January. “The bottom line … I do believe the elections this year will influence, if not determine, the future of our democracy.”