Election campaigns for Michigan governor generally kick off about 18 months ahead the November balloting, so potential Republican challengers for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are now starting to jockey, as evidenced by meetings in recent weeks with representatives of the Republican Governors Association and possible Michigan candidates for next year. Chief among them was twice-failed U.S. Senate candidate John James, an Oakland County businessman who has raised notable funding in the past and performed better than expected in two state-wide runs for office. Add in Tudor Dixon, a 44-year-old conservative radio talk show host from Norton Shores on the westside of the state and a speaker at the CPAC get-together in Florida, someone who a GOP insider described as “solid” and the next Candace Owens, a conservative author and talk show celebrity. Then there’s Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Hills, a member of the famed Rinke auto family, familiar especially to those living in the southeast part of the state. Rinke has been a consistent donor to state and national Republican candidates for office and helped develop Michigan dealer franchise legislation on behalf of state auto groups. All three, we are told, were part of recent Republican polling and the group fared well against Whitmer, including James who was only 1.7 percent behind the governor. As a side note, there are three other GOP candidates (Austin Chenge, Ryan Kelley, Bob Scott), all of whom have formally filed gubernatorial campaign committees.