By John Celock
Michigan’s state House speaker is aiming to become the country’s latest statewide elected official under the age of forty.
House Speaker Tom Leonard (R), 36, officially kicked off his long anticipated bid for the Republican nomination for state attorney general Thursday. Leonard, one of the most conservative Republicans in Lansing framed his campaign as the continuation of his past work as a county and state prosecutor.
“I saw victims during the most painful times of their lives,” Leonard said in a video.
A term-limited third term legislator, Leonard has been mentioned as a likely candidate for attorney general in the 2018 election since moving up to state House speaker two years ago. Prior to running for the Legislature in 2012, Leonard has been a prosecutor at the county level and in the attorney general’s office, including prosecuting major crimes.
In the Legislature, Leonard has risen quickly, including holding the posts of insurance committee chairman and speaker pro tempore before taking on the speakership. Leonard used his announcement video to highlight what he said were accomplishments in cutting taxes, lowering insurance rates, battling Common Core and protecting the unborn.
“The political elites don’t care about those things but you and I do,” Leonard said about his record in Lansing.
Leonard said that he wanted to focus on “common sense values” as attorney general. Leonard is running to succeed term limited Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), who is running for the open governor’s office next year. State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker has also announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination for attorney general. On the Democratic side, attorney Dana Nessel has announced her candidacy while former U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles is considered a likely contender.
If elected, Leonard would likely be the youngest statewide elected official in Michigan. Currently Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R), 40, is the youngest of the four statewide executives in the state. Calley is running to succeed term limited Gov. Rick Snyder (R) next year.
Of the nation’s 15 statewide officials under the age of 40, two – Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Nevada’s Adam Laxalt – are state attorneys general.
In his announcement Leonard touched on how he struggled for life when he was born.
“When I was born I wasn’t supposed to survive,” he said. “But with skilled doctors and the grace of God I was given a chance.”
Statewide Officeholders Under 40
Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), 29, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), 33
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson (R), 33
North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger (R), 33
Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D), 33
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway (D), 34, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg (R), 34, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfried (R), 34
West Virginia Auditor J.B. McCluskey (R), 34
Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball (R), 35
Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D), 35
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 36
North Dakota Auditor Josh Gallion (R), 37
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R), 39
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), 39