Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, long considered Republicans’ strongest potential county executive candidate, announced Tuesday he will not run for the job in 2020.
Longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a Republican, died in August. Democrat Dave Coulter, the mayor of Ferndale, was appointed his replacement by the Oakland County Commission. Coulter and county Treasurer Andy Meisner, also a Democrat, have both said they’re running in 2020.
Oakland County used to be a GOP stronghold with Patterson as a larger-than-life figure at the helm since 1992. However, the wealthy Southeast Michigan county has trended blue in the last two decades, with Democrats now controlling the county commission. Bouchard is the lone Republican in an executive position.
“My focus, first and foremost, has always been to keep Oakland County safe,” Bouchard said in a statement first reported by the Oakland Press. “The Sheriff’s Office has had a number of senior leaders retire and will be experiencing additional retirements soon. I feel it is incumbent upon myself to ensure stability in the agency and to focus my efforts in managing the agency into a new era of leadership.”
Bouchard, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, has served as sheriff for 20 years. He’s a former state senator who also lost his 2006 U.S. Senate bid.
In January, Bouchard attended a bill signing for human trafficking legislation with President Donald Trump in Washington, as the Advance reported. Bouchard said he spoke with U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr about priorities for large county sheriffs.