A source close to University Regent Denise Ilitch (D–Bingham Farms) with knowledge of the situation told The Michigan Daily in an interview yesterday that though she hasn’t made up her mind yet, Ilitch is considering a run for governor.
With the announcement last week that Lt. Gov. John Cherry will not be entering the 2010 race for Michigan governor, many are speculating as to who the Democratic front-runner for the position will be — and one of the University’s own may be stepping in to fill the void.
According to the source, Regent Ilitch, who has served on the University’s Board of Regents since 2008, has not yet formed an exploratory committee — the first formal step toward candidacy.
The source said that though Ilitch is unsure whether she’ll pursue the candidacy, Ilitch is “very humbled” by the many people reaching out and encouraging her to run.
Those supporting a possible run by Ilitch say the state of Michigan is in dire need of a fresh perspective, the source said. Because Ilitch is not from Lansing, many believe she would appeal to voters.
Ilitch’s supporters believe that her past and present business experiences would make her a sufficient candidate, according to the source.
Ilitch is the daughter of Michael Ilitch, the founder of Detroit-based Little Caesars Pizza. She is also the former CEO and president of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. — a company that manages Little Caesars Enterprises, The Detroit Red Wings, The Detroit Tigers and Olympia Entertainment.
Ilitch is the owner of Ilitch Enterprises, the owner and publisher of Ambassador Magazine in Detroit and founder of Denise Ilitch Designs, a handmade jewelry company. She is also of counsel at Clark Hill PLC — a law firm in Detroit.
The newest member of the University’s Board of Regents, Ilitch was one of two regents to vote against last years tuition hike, which raised tuition by 5.6 percent.
An alumni of the University, Ilitch earned her bachelors degree in 1977 from Michigan before going on to earn her law degree from the University of Detroit in 1980.
Illich reportedly ventured to Washington earlier this week to meet with White House officials. The Associated Press reported that President Barack Obama also “stopped by the meeting.”
After Democratic front-runner Cherry — the Democratic front-runner at the time — announced he would not run for governor, an increasing number of Democrats entered the field.
If Ilitch does decide to enter the race she’ll face competition from others, including state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith (D–Salem) and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Though he hasn’t officially announced he will be running for governor, state House Speaker Andy Dillon (D–Redford) formed an exploratory committee last week. Dillon is currently presumed to be the Democratic front-runner.
— Daily News Editor Kyle Swanson contributed to this report.