Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope confirmed Tuesday that he is not going to run for the Ingham County Clerk post being vacated this year by retiring Clerk Mike Bryanton, opting out of a competitive Democratic primary race against state Rep. Barb Byrum.
Polls showed Swope lagging well behind Byrum, whose mother, Dianne, established the Byrum name as a political brand as a state senator and House member until term limits caught up with her.
However, Swope said he didn’t base his decision on that.
“I’ve decided I can better serve my community right now by staying in my current position,” Swope said. “Another primary battle among Ingham County Democrats would distract attention and funds from this November’s election.”
Swope also noted that his husband, Bradly Radkowski, recently opened a business, so he has a lot going on personally.
Byrum, D- Onandaga, who cannot run for her post again because of term limits, said she received a call from Swope on Tuesday afternoon letting her know of his intentions not to run. She said the two plan on sitting down next week and that she looks forward to working with him.
Swope was first elected city clerk in 2005 and won re-election in 2009 when nobody filed to run against him. He served as an Ingham County commissioner from 2001-05. He worked as a policy analyst for the Michigan Senate and a benefits administrator for the Michigan House of Representatives.
Without Swope in the race, the field is essentially open for Byrum unless and until someone announces. Rumors of Swope’s departure have circulated in liberal circles for about a week.
Last May, Practical Political Consultants did a robo-poll of 225 likely Democratic primary voters that showed Byrum up 72 to 16 percent over Swope, with him struggling badly in the name ID department. At least one other poll had been done on the race since and Swope’s name ID, again, was far behind that of Byrum.
However, Swope said his decision was based on having a busy personal schedule, not polling data.
“I just really am focused on what’s best for the community right now and how I can best serve — I know I have a lot going on,” he said.
One local Democratic operative told City Pulse that Swope’s departure shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the amount of time and money he’d need to expend over the summer to get his name ID numbers up to Byrum’s level.
All things considered, Swope may be on a better track to run for mayor whenever Virg Bernero decides he’s had enough, whenever that may be, the Democratic insider said.
Bryanton had encouraged Swope to run and was supporting his candidacy. He did not return a telephone call for comment.