DETROIT
01/31/2013 05:56 pm ET

Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Senate Democrat, Bows Out Of 2014 Governor's Race

The field of candidates for Michigan's 2014 governor's race is yet be determined, but state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) has already made it clear she won't be in the running.

The Senate minority leader informed supporters Wednesday that she wouldn't be challenging incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder (R), despite some earlier expectations.

"While making this decision is undeniably difficult, knowing why I'm making it also makes it very easy," she said in a letter cited by MLive. "To be the kind of Mom I want to be for my girls simply does not allow me to make the kind of commitment necessary to run a successful campaign for Governor at this point in their lives."

Whitmer served as a forceful critic of the governor during last year's lame duck session battle over right-to-work legislation, which state Republicans eventually passed into law.

Her exit from the race makes more room for former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) who has hinted at a run.

Bill Ballenger, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, told the Lansing State Journal that although Schauer isn't well-known, his success may ultimately depend on Snyder's popularity ratings.

“Mark Schauer by himself is not a formidable candidate, but he has the image of being a left-of-center Democrat who might be able to bring together the various factions of the Democratic Party and get fairly united Democratic support," Ballenger told the newspaper.

A January poll conducted by Republican-aligned Mitchell Resource and Communications had Snyder clearing a 50 percent favorability rating.

The governor ended last year with about $828,000 in his campaign fund, the Detroit News reports. Snyder hasn't formally announced any plans yet to run for re-election.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D) and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D), who challenged Snyder unsuccessfully during the last race, have also been tossed around as potential candidates. A December poll held by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-affiliated firm, showed Snyder losing to both of them, as well as Schauer.

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