Biden hinted he’s running for president. Does Mayor Duggan still want to run his campaign?

(Jan 2014) Michigan North American International Auto Show

Mayor Duggan said last year he would manage the presidential campaign of Joe Biden if the former vice president opted to run in 2020.

Well, Biden this week said he’s seriously considering running against Donald Trump for president, and limited polling shows that the 76-year-old is leading the pack of potential 2020 Democratic nominees. 

So it seems fair to ask whether Duggan would still chair Biden’s campaign – a pledge he made in an August 2017 interview with Politico – since it comes in the middle of the mayor’s second term and would surely require Duggan to step down or miss a lot of time in the city.

Duggan spokesman John Roach told Motor City Muckraker that he knows of no plans for Duggan to join a yet-to-be-determined Biden campaign.

“I am not aware of any such conversations taking place,” Roach said. 

Duggan told Politico in August 2017 that he would run Biden’s campaign if Biden decided to run.   

“Well, you know, I’d do it if Joe Biden wanted,” Duggan told Politico’s Off Message podcast. 

Biden and Duggan have become close over the past few years. Last year, Biden recorded a robocall on the eve of the mayoral primary election after Duggan called the former vice president on his cell phone for help.

“He said are you sure you didn’t want anything else,” Duggan recalled. “He was very effective.”

On Monday, Biden reignited speculation that he will run for president when he said he believes he is the “most qualified person” to run for president and indicated that he will be making a decision in the next two months.

“I’ll be as straight with you as I can. I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” Biden said at a book tour at the University of Montana. “The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse, that I’ve worked on my whole life.”

“No one should run for the job unless they believe that they would be qualified doing the job. I’ve been doing this my whole adult life, and the issues that are the most consequential relating to the plight of the middle class and our foreign policy are things that I have — even my critics would acknowledge, I may not be right but I know a great deal about it,” he added.

Biden said he plans to meet with his family before making the decision.

“I have two young grandchildren my son left who love me and adore me and want me around. I want to be there to take care of them, so we’ve got to figure out whether or not this is something we can all do as a family,” he said. “We’re going to make that decision in the next six weeks to two months, and that’s the basis of the decision.”

It’s unclear what would happen if Duggan ended up working full-time on Biden’s campaign and whether he would resign or work both jobs simultaneously. The primary elections begin in Iowa on Feb. 3, 2020, but campaigning for most candidates begins months earlier.

The general election is in November 2020.

Biden became a major advocate for Detroit as the vice president, visiting the city numerous times under Duggan’s leadership. In 2014, Duggan introduced Biden, both of whom are Irish, at the  Michigan North American International Auto Show. 

“He’s loved it here,” Duggan told Politico.

Duggan would be an interesting choice in a swing state that narrowly went to Trump in 2016. The mayor has built one of the most formidable political machines in the state, raising millions of dollars inside and outside of the city. A large share of that money comes from the other side of the aisle – Republicans, who have taken a liking to Duggan for being corporate-friendly as banks and developers look to cash in on downtown Detroit’s renaissance.

They are both moderate Democrats and not part of the progressive wing that has gained traction after Hillary Clinton’s miserable campaign allowed a brash reality TV star and billionaire to become president.

Duggan was a big Clinton supporter, and some of his top campaign aides helped run the race in Michigan.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.