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gretchen whitmer

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s gubernatorial election is still 14 months away, but the field of candidates is growing quickly.

A whopping 20 people have filed with the Secretary of State so far: six Republicans, seven Democrats and seven third-party candidates. And that number is expected to grow before the April 2018 filing deadline.

Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette / Facebook.com

Attorney General Bill Schuette, who actually has been running for governor forever, made it official yesterday, at a barbecue in his hometown of Midland. It wasn’t exactly a grass-roots rally; those who went were supposed to donate a minimum of $50 to the campaign.

If you were willing to give $500, you could be designated a “grill master,” and for a thousand dollars, an “on duty” donor. That may have been a slight error in branding; I think being grill master sounds better. But Schuette hasn’t made many errors in this campaign – though, as he himself noted, his party faces an uphill battle.

Bill Schuette speaks to a crowd of supporters.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“Our next governor, Bill Schuette,” Cynthia Schuette introduced her husband to an enthusiastic hometown crowd in Midland on Tuesday.

Michigan’s attorney general’s interest in the state’s top job has not been a secret. 

In his speech, Schuette laid out his priorities.

Former Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer was just one of a number of Democrats at Detroit's annual Labor Day parade.
Whitmer for Governor

Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade attracted the usual mix of union members, activists and political candidates this year.

Those candidates included three of the Democrats running for governor.

Former state Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer has lined up most of the big labor support statewide. She met and marched with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others.

After this week, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the 2018 governor’s race will look like in Michigan.

In just a little more than a year, Republicans and Democrats in Michigan will choose their candidates for governor in the August primary. Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited so, it’s a wide open field.

On June 1st, I talked about Gretchen Whitmer, the former state Senate minority leader and now the leading candidate for next year’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

During an interview during last week’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Whitmer told me that when you look at all the candidates, “I’m the one that looks most like John Engler.”

Gretchen Whitmer, currently the leading Democratic candidate for governor, told me something yesterday at the Mackinac Policy Conference that caught me by surprise: “You know, when you look at all of the candidates in the race, I’m the one that looks most like John Engler.”

profile shot of Gretchen Whitmer
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee's decision to stay out of the Democratic race for Michigan's governor makes the field a little less crowded, but there's still competition for a spot on next year's ballot. 

Last week, Stateside spoke with Democratic candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, the former head of the Detroit Health Department.

Today, Gretchen Whitmer joined the show. Whitmer served for 14 years in the Michigan House and Senate, including four years as Senate Minority Leader. She was the interim prosecutor for Ingham County during the last half of 2016. She kicked off this year by announcing her run for governor in 2018.

Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint has decided that he will not, after all, run for the Democratic nomination for governor next year. Sources close to the congressman told me last night that he had been wavering until last week, when House Republicans rammed through a health care bill that few understood and which made Democrats extremely mad.

Kildee, who has told me he loves Congress, had an epiphany then that his work was to stay in the House, where he has a safe seat, and fight for what is right for the nation.

MichiganDems.com

There is no way to sugar-coat the results of the November election if you're a Democrat. It was a disaster, anyway you cut it.

How do Democrats regroup, re-calibrate and rebuild?

That's the job of the Chairman of Michigan's Democratic Party Brandon Dillon and he joined Stateside to talk about it.

The new president, Congress and state Legislature still haven’t been sworn in but Campaign 2018 is already underway.

Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is the “first” candidate to launch a 2018 campaign for governor of Michigan. Whitmer is a Democrat who spent more than a dozen years in the state Legislature before being term-limited out in 2014.

flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The 2017 year is just a few days old, and we're already looking ahead to 2018.

In Michigan, that will mean a new governor to replace term-limited Rick Snyder.

On Tuesday, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer became the first candidate to step forward into the ring. The former Senate minority leader filed the paperwork with the Secretary of State which allows her to set up a committee to run for governor.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Ford changed gears yesterday, with an announcement that it's canceled plans for a new factory in Mexico and will instead invest $700 million in its Flat Rock plant in Michigan. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether pressure from President-elect Donald Trump influenced that decision.

They also talk about former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer's announcement that she plans to run for governor of Michigan in 2018, and new Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller's response to the massive sinkhole in the city of Fraser. 


http://whitmer.senatedems.com/

Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is the first candidate to formally announce that she will run for governor of Michigan in 2018. The former Senate Democratic leader sent an e-mail today declaring her plans.

The job will be open because Michigan’s term limits do not allow Republican Governor Rick Snyder to run again.

Whitmer may have competition for the Democratic nomination as Congressman Dan Kildee weighs a bid. On the Republican side, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley are potential candidates. 

Michigan Department of Corrections

  LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Lansing-area prosecutor says DNA results in a 1981 murder have "created questions about everything" related to the case.

  Gretchen Whitmer spoke to The Associated Press after a Friday court hearing in the case of Michael Darnell Harris. He's seeking to have his second-degree murder conviction thrown out after DNA tests on the victim's clothing point to another man who was 13 at the time.

Ingham Co. Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Stuart Dunnings, Ingham County's disgraced prosecutor, has filed an application to begin receiving his pension benefits.

Dunnings will officially step down on July 1, after he was accused of paying prostitutes for sex hundreds of times. 

He faces 15 charges in three separate counties. Preliminary exams in the cases have not yet been scheduled.

Dunnings' pension plan, Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan (MERS), says it will not disclose how much he will receive.

Sen. Arlan Meekhof, Michigan's next Senate Majority Leader.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, will be the new state Senate majority leader in 2015.

Republican senators chose Meekhof to replace term-limited Sen. Randy Richardville to lead their caucus.

Republicans will likely add one seat to their 26-12 majority in the Senate next year, although Democrats are considering a recount in one race.

Senate Democrats selected Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint as the next state Senate minority leader. He will replace term-limited Sen. Gretchen Whitmer.

Republican state Representatives will choose a new state House Speaker this afternoon.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Lansing public library's effort to ban openly carried firearms has ended

"The Michigan Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal of a case involving libraries and guns. Lansing’s library system had banned openly carried firearms in its branches.  But the Court of Appeals found that violated a state law preventing local units of government from banning weapons," Steve Carmody reports.

Bill would affect taxes related to oil and gas wells

A bill in Lansing would exempt things like piping, machinery, tanks and other equipment used to develop oil and gas wells from personal property taxes. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"Leaders of some of Michigan's poorest counties in the northern Lower Peninsula say the change would cost their communities millions of dollars while giving a tax break to oil and gas companies."

Gretchen Whitmer will not be on 2014 ballot

Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer confirmed yesterday she will not be on the statewide ballot in 2014. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"She announced early this year that she wasn’t going to run for governor in 2014. But speculation had been rampant that Whitmer could be a serious and credible candidate for Attorney General or Lieutenant Governor. 'But it’s just not the time,' she told the Free Press Thursday. 'My girls are 10 and 11, and I thought when they got to this age they wouldn’t need me as much, but they need me more.'"

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Earlier this summer, the state’s House and Senate chambers got facelift. The $370,000 renovations included replacing the chamber’s carpet, which was held together by duct tape in several spots.

Now that carpet is being cut up, and put on the market for anyone who wants a piece of legislative tapestry — er, history.

As the Detroit Free Press’s Kathleen Gray reported, at least 170 people have requested swatches of the Senate’s old carpeting, which are “being sold for $25 for an 8-by-14-inch swatch and $50 for a 27-by-27-inch square.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A plan to improve Michigan’s roads and infrastructure will probably not be on the November ballot. That’s according to leaders of both parties in the state Senate.

Governor Rick Snyder wants the state Legislature to boost road funding by more than a billion dollars a year. But lawmakers have not embraced his plan to raise registration fees and the state’s gas tax to pay for it.

Instead, multiple plans have surfaced that would include asking voters to increase the state’s sales tax.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder has called on state Senate Republicans to return to Lansing to vote on the Medicaid expansion. If not, Snyder says he could see the pattern repeated on raising more money for roads, student performance standards, and other controversial issues. He’s already been rebuffed on creating a state-run insurance exchange. 

But the governor says he remains optimistic that there is a path to winning an expansion of Medicaid.

Gretchen Whitmer is the state Senate Democratic leader, and she supports the expansion. She says the vote never happened because too many Republicans fear a Tea Party backlash, and she expects it will happen again.

She said this signals future problems ahead with issue like infrastructure, and called the Tea Party pressure "the tail is wagging the dog."

The governor wants the Legislature to tackle road funding once a Medicaid deal is approved. He wants that done within 30 days, but the Senate is not expected to reconvene until late August. The governor says that would be too late.

Scott Hagerstrom is the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity. He says his group won’t stop trying to block policies that could lead to a growth in the size of government.

“The governor pushes on – ‘relentless positive action’ – and it’s never really over. It’ll never be over until he’s out of office, so on that note, we’ll just have to continue to educate Michigan citizens.”

Hagerstrom says that will hold true in the future as the governor pushes for more revenue for roads or any other tax or fee hikes. He says there are some things the governor has done that conservatives like.

Hagerstrom says his group will push the Legislature to keep the governor in check.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

In 2004, 58% of Michigan voters voted yes to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

But that was nearly a decade ago. Since that vote, there's been an annual survey testing Michiganders' attitudes towards the issue. And the latest survey by the Glengarriff Group shows a major turnaround in the way we view same-sex marriage.

Today, Michigan voters back gay marriage by a 57% to 37% margin — almost an exact reversal of the vote on the constitutional ban.

With that backdrop, four Democratic senators have proposed a package of legislation that would advance recognition of same-sex marriage in our state.

Christopher Webb / Flickr

The Michigan Senate has passed a budget bill that would boost state funding to public schools by about 3%. Universities and colleges would also get a roughly 2% increase.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R- Monroe) praised the schools budget, saying it addresses issues like teacher retirement costs while giving more money to districts.

“The education budget this year may be the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been up here,” said Richardville.

But many Democrats say the plan does not do enough to make up for cuts to education over the past couple of years.

A classroom in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Battle Creek State Senator Mike Nofs says he doesn’t think higher than expected revenue in the school aid fund should be used to bail out struggling school districts.

Nofs says at today’s revenue estimating conference, state officials will announce the school aid fund has nearly $100 million more than predicted.

Nofs expects there will be push to use that money to help the struggling Pontiac and Buena Vista school districts. But he says that’s not a good idea.

Christopher Webb / Flickr

It’s day four of no school for Saginaw-based Buena Vista School District, as the district prepares to declare a financial emergency.

As Mark Brush reported on Tuesday, the school district canceled classes earlier this week after teachers were laid off. The layoffs come after the district of about 450 students learned the state was withholding funding for April, May and June.

Regardless of your politics, it may not have escaped your notice that Governor Rick Snyder is not universally popular.

He angered many voters by first taxing their pensions, then agreeing to throw thousands of children off welfare. Business taxes were lowered; spending for education at first slashed.

But the reaction to all that was mild compared to what happened last December, when the governor reversed his course and supported ramming right to work through the legislature in a day, without the courtesy of a single committee hearing.

Since then, his popularity has plummeted. His job performance ratings show more negatives than positives, and some polls show he would lose to just about any Democratic challenger.

What’s most curious about this is that you might think that with a track record like that, Democrats would be swarming all over themselves to run for governor. But here’s the reality: They don’t have a candidate.

What a week in Michigan politics! The litigating has begun on the state’s new right-to-work law, keeping the controversy alive, in the media, and in the public eye. There’s a right-to-work case in a lower court as well, but Governor Snyder asked the Michigan Supreme Court to make some key rulings so state employees can start dropping out of their unions as soon as the end of March.

Electoral College Changes?

Two days ago, the  expectation among many Democrats was that Senate Minority Leader Gretchen  Whitmer would be their candidate for governor next year.

Attractive, articulate  and charismatic, she has been the party’s primary and most visible public voice  since Rick Snyder became governor two years ago.

Yesterday, however,  she took herself out of the running. She has two pre-teen daughters, and said,  sensibly, “to be the kind of Mom I want to be for my girls simply does not allow  me to make the kind of commitment necessary to run a successful campaign for  governor at this point in their lives.’

Some may think that is a  cop-out, that she isn’t running because she thinks Snyder is unbeatable. But I  talked yesterday to someone who knows her well and says she is being completely  honest. Her daughters do mean a lot to her, and I think you have to admire that. 

This is a dilemma, by the way, many women in politics face. Republican Danialle  Karamanos just resigned as a member of the Wayne State Board of Governors,  because she has four small children and concluded that she couldn’t do both  jobs.

Senator Whitmer's office

In a letter to supporters this morning, State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) announced that she won't make a run for the Governor's seat in 2014. She cited family as the reason for her decision. MLive has the full text of her letter to supporters. Here's a portion: 

I've said all along that I wouldn't be making this decision alone, but rather would be doing it along with my family, and in particular, what's best for my 2 girls. They're 9 and 10 years old now, and without question, being their Mom is the single most important thing in the world to me.

So, while making this decision is undeniably difficult, knowing why I'm making it also makes it very easy. To be the kind of Mom I want to be for my girls simply does not allow me to make the kind of commitment necessary to run a successful campaign for Governor at this point in their lives.

She released this video on Facebook this morning explaining her decision:

The Detroit Free Press lists the following people as potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates for Michigan's 2014 race.

  • Former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer
  • U.S. Rep. Gary Peters
  • Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel
  • and State Board of Education president John Austin

A conversation with Senator Gretchen Whitmer

Nov 13, 2012
Michigan Senate Democrats

Listen to the full interview.

The Michigan legislature enters the lame duck session this week. Republicans held onto a majority in the State House, so they’ll be setting the legislative agenda, but Democrats will be watching closely.  Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer talks with Jennifer White. Public Act 4, the emergency manager law, was overturned by Michigan voters last week, could a new version of the law emerge? Plus, a discussion on right to work. And, what could the repeal of the personal property tax on businesses mean for local municipalities?

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