April 13 2010 12:00 AM

Is it a political base, or a modest vacation home?

Former Gov. John Engler and his wife, Michelle, are the proud new owners of a sprawling home outside Laingsburg listed at $649,000.

Englers bought a home in Woodhall Township on April 5, according to the
Shiawassee County Register of Deeds. The 4,240-square-foot lakefront
abode has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Online pictures show an
open-floor plan, a deck overlooking the water and an elephant statue in
the great room. The home is assessed at $294,100, according to online

The Woodhall Township property will be a "good retreat, a vacation home," John Truscott, Engler's former press secretary, said Monday.

The news of Engler's purchase didn't come as a surprise to Bill Ballenger, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

"First of all, he's a Michigan guy," Ballenger said, noting that Engler still has family around his hometown of Beal City.

have been persistent rumors that Engler will challenge U.S. Sen. Debbie
Stabenow, D-Michigan, in 2012 or will be looking to otherwise involve
himself in Michigan politics, especially as his old fundraiser, Ron
Weiser, chairs the Michigan Republican Party.

Truscott denied that.

"Absolutely not," he said. “There's no truth behind any of those rumors."

Ballenger said he doesn't see a Senate bid in Engler's future, either.

"With Engler, you can't ever be sure, but I'd be very surprised," he said.

said he could see the former governor setting up a political
entrepreneurial operation, given his extensive network in Michigan. But
Ballenger was skeptical Engler might jump in for the 2010 election.

"The idea that Engler would come up and immediately have an impact this fall might be a little too early," he said.

will not be stepping down from his post heading up the Washington,
D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers, Truscott said. The
executive's annual salary is more than $1 million, according to The
National Journal. His position was thought to be in danger with the
advent of the Barack Obama administration, as Engler was close to
former President George W. Bush, but there have been no moves thus far
to oust him.

home is in the Scenic Lake area near homes of other GOP powerbrokers
like former Supreme Court Chief Justice Cliff Taylor, Justice Robert
Young and former Engler aide Dan Pero.

The Englers have 15-year-old triplets who attend schools in the Washington area.