University of Michigan Regent Mark Bernstein said today he will not enter the Democratic race for Michigan governor in 2018 and will instead endorse former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer.

The development is a boost for Whitmer, of East Lansing, considered by many to be the Democratic front-runner for the nomination.

"After much exploration and discussion with my family, I will not be a candidate for governor in 2018," Bernstein, a Southfield attorney, said in a statement.

"I will continue to fight and win for those who need a voice in the legal system, as their attorney."

Bernstein said he believes in Michigan's future and that's why he "strongly considered" entering the race.

He said "a divisive and expensive Democratic primary would only distract us from this essential task," and it is time to unite behind Whitmer.

Gretchen Whitmer

"Her values and vision honor my highest aspirations for our state," Bernstein said.

Whitmer issued a statement praising Bernstein.

"Mark Bernstein's service to the state of Michigan through his work improving access to education, his commitment to social justice, the environment, and his extraordinary generosity illustrates the good that people can do for one another when they put people ahead of politics," Whitmer said in a statement issued by her campaign.

"I am honored to have his support, and together we're all going to build a movement for Michigan where our kids can thrive, our workers have opportunity, and our government is accountable to the people."

Other Democrats running for governor include former Detroit Health Department Director Abdul El-Sayed; retired Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar; retired Xerox executive William Cobbs of Farmington Hills; emergency medical services driver Kentiel White of Southgate, and Justin Giroux of Wayland.

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