Hard to believe – the filing deadline for the 2022 election has just passed but in some circles the speculation about the 2026 (yes, 2026) gubernatorial election has already started. Although anything of this nature could change in the next several years, the chitchat now has it that Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, a Democrat, is looking down the road at running for governor of Michigan. As the storyline goes, his lieutenant governor running mate will be Mary Patterson Warner, daughter of GOP icon L. Brooks Patterson, who jettisoned into the news with criticism of Democrat Oakland County Commissioners when they scheduled (and then canceled) a meeting to appoint Brooks’ replacement on the morning of his funeral in 2019. Why wait until 2026? Republicans, in private of course, generally agree that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who will be term limited and not appearing on the 2026 ballot, is going to be hard to beat this year, especially with the current throng of GOP candidates. In the 2026 Hackel scenario, the Macomb politician, considered as a moderate and a county executive in the mold of Patterson, would also switch parties to run as a Republican. Don’t just dismiss this as wishful thinking of the chattering class – this is good information. Discussions have been taking place.