MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ) Following a steep rise from beat cop to county sheriff to county executive — Is Macomb’s Mark Hackel planning to put another feather in his cap and run for governor?

It sounds like he’s considering it for 2014 — if he can garner enough support.

“If there were people from the business sector or others that said, ‘You know what, we think you can make a go of this, we’d really like to help make this happen,’ then I might be intrigued or interested in seeing what can we build, what can we do,” Hackel said.

He added: “I hear about it, people say, ‘You have a good possibility of running for governor some day.’ I hear it.”

But the moderate Democrat raised in the birthplace of the so-called Reagan Republicans thinks it would be a long, difficult road to the governor’s office.

“I keep thinking to myself, it’s going to be a challenge — Why? Because my brand is I’m very independent, very moderate,” Hackel said. “If ever that day comes, you’ll find those that are part of the party that try to make those decisions as to who the candidate they put forward is going to be, (I’m) not going to be at the top of the list.”

Hackel is the first county executive in Macomb County, elected to a four-year term on Jan. 1, 2011, following a change in the structure of county government. Prior to his election, the county was run by a 26-member commission.

Hackel is arguably Macomb’s most popular political figure, with people lining up to shake his hand at just about every public stop. His last term as sheriff, in 2008, he received 78.4 percent of the 314,778 votes cast.

He got 66 percent of the vote in the first county executive election — but he says that support is hard fought.

“When I ran for county executive, I was denounced as a candidate, I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid, I’m not following along, I’m not playing the game,” Hackel said.

Hackel formed an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2008, but abandoned that to run for county executive. He says he’s not afraid to tackle the big topics — the kind a state leader takes on — like the controversial Canadian bridge project.

The owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Matty Moroun, just released a report saying the proposed new bridge to Canada is not needed and too costly. Moroun, who has fought hard for years to build and own his own bridge, contends a publicly funded new bridge will eventually cost state and local governments in Michigan $325 million.

Hackel doesn’t buy it.

“Let’s build a bridge, let’s move forward,” Hackel said. “It’s going to create some tremendous economic opportunities for us right now and into the future. You talk to the Big Three, our automakers, you talk the executives, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb County, even the city of Detroit with the mayor, the governor of the state of Michigan, everybody’s on board, the suppliers, everybody gets it.”

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