Kowall becomes first Republican to enter Oakland County executive contest
Former state senator Mike Kowall becomes the first Republican officially entering the race for Oakland County executive.
Kowall, a White Lake Township resident, is seeking to oust Democrat David Coulter, who was appointed to the job last summer following the Aug. 3 death of longtime county executive L. Brooks Pattersonof complications from pancreatic cancer at age 80.
County Treasurer Andy Meisner, a Democrat, is also in the race.
Kowall has been active in Oakland County Republican politics for more than two decades. He served in the Michigan House of Representatives 1998-2002, then as White Lake Township supervisor 2004-10 and as a state senator 2011-18. He also flirted with a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011.
After being term-limited out of the Senate, he went to work for Patterson’s economic development team.
“Oakland County is the second largest county in the state of Michigan, so experience matters,” Kowall said in a news release. “Encouraging economic development, ensuring sound infrastructure and protecting the investment our citizens make through their tax dollars has to be the top priority.”
Coulter was voted into office Aug. 16 by the board of commissioners to serve a partial term as county executive following a messy political fight after Patterson’s death. The partisan appointment battle last summer featured politicking, cover-up accusations, a legal challenge, resignations, an apparent olive oil slathering in the commissioners’ auditorium and a series of resignations by Patterson’s most trusted and senior deputies.
Coulter announced in the fall that he would seek a full four-year term.
The most recent campaign finance statements for the two men show that Coulter has $200,627 in the bank after raising $216,925 during a Oct. 28-Dec. 31 reporting period; Meisner reported $500,050 cash on hand after raising $110,835 during the Oct. 21-Dec. 31 period.
Oakland County, long a bastion of Republican politics, has swayed politically in the last 10-plus years. Democrats have been making inroads, capturing four of the six countywide positions and now, with Coulter, adding a fifth. Sheriff Mike Bouchard is the lone Republican in a countywide elected post.
Bouchard said in November that he wouldn’t seek the executive position, the Oakland Press reported at the time.
The post comes with a $197,248-per-year salary