With more than a year to go before the 2018 primary elections for Michigan governor, Michigan Democrats appear to be rallying behind Lansing native Gretchen Whitmer as the party’s candidate of choice. Whitmer, who declared her candidacy in January, got an early boost in May when Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint said he wouldn’t be running for governor. The same month, party speculation focused on Farmington Hills attorney Mark Bernstein (of TV commercial fame), who said he too was considering a run for office. But the well-known attorney and former White House press official during the Clinton years has since declined, offering the Bernstein name advantage instead to Whitmer in July and urging the party to unite behind her. While the endorsement may help improve Gretchen’s name recognition in southeast Michigan, the former state legislator and Ingham County prosecutor doesn’t yet have a lock on the nomination, as many voters in Oakland County are starting to wonder “who the hell is Gretchen Whitmer,” as one political wonk said. Also to consider is the filing deadline for the gubernatorial primary in April, which comes well after this year’s general election for the Detroit mayoral race. While Mayor Mike Duggan has consistently refuted questions about a possible run for governor, a loss in his own city could open up new opportunities for the one of the state’s most popular Democrats.