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Gretchen Whitmer

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Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg
49th Governor of Michigan
Assumed office
January 1, 2019
LieutenantGarlin Gilchrist
Preceded byRick Snyder
Ingham County Prosecutor
In office
July 21, 2016 – December 31, 2016
Preceded byStuart Dunnings III
Succeeded byCarol Siemon
Minority Leader of the Michigan Senate
In office
January 1, 2011 – January 1, 2015
DeputySteve Bieda
Preceded byMike Prusi
Succeeded byJim Ananich
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 23rd district
In office
March 21, 2006 – January 1, 2015
Preceded byVirgil Bernero
Succeeded byCurtis Hertel Jr.
Member of the
Michigan House of Representatives
In office
January 1, 2001 – March 21, 2006
Preceded byLaura Baird
Succeeded byMark Meadows
Constituency70th district (2001–2003)
69th district (2003–2006)
Personal details
Born
Gretchen Esther Whitmer

(1971-08-23) August 23, 1971 (age 48)
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Gary Shrewsbury (div.)
Marc Mallory (m. 2011)
Children2
ResidenceGovernor's Mansion
EducationMichigan State University (BA, JD)
Signature
WebsiteGovernment website

Gretchen Esther Whitmer (born August 23, 1971) is an American politician serving as the 49th governor of Michigan. A member of the Democratic Party, she served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2001 to 2006 and in the Michigan Senate from 2006 to 2015.

Born and raised in Michigan as the daughter of two lawyers, Whitmer graduated from Forest Hills Central High School near Grand Rapids, Michigan State University, and the Michigan State University College of Law. She ran unsuccessfully for the state house in the 1990s before being elected in 2000. In 2006 she became a state senator, a position she kept until term limits forced her to step down in 2015. She was the Senate's first female Democratic leader from 2011 to 2015. In 2013, Whitmer gained national attention for a floor speech during a debate on abortion in which she shared her experience of being sexually assaulted. For six months in 2016, she was the county prosecutor for Ingham County.

Whitmer was elected governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election, defeating Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. As governor, Whitmer has focused on healthcare and infrastructure. In February 2020, she was selected to give the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's 2020 State of the Union Address.

Early life and education

Gretchen Whitmer was born in 1971 in Lansing, Michigan, as the eldest of three children to Sharon H. "Sherry" Reisig and Richard Whitmer, who were both lawyers.[1][2] Her father served as head of the state's Department of Commerce under Governor William Milliken and was the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan between 1988 and 2006.[3] Whitmer's mother worked as an assistant attorney general under Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley.[4] Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old; she and her siblings moved with their mother to Grand Rapids. Her father traveled from his home in Detroit to visit the family at least once a week.[5] She graduated from Forest Hills Central High School, just outside Grand Rapids.[6] She received a BA in communications from Michigan State University in 1993 and a JD from Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 1998.

State Legislature

House of Representatives

Whitmer originally ran for the Michigan House of Representatives in the 1990s but was unsuccessful.[7] In 2000, she tried again and was elected to represent the 23rd legislative district. She was reelected in 2002 and 2004.[8]

State Senate

In March 2006, Whitmer left the state house and became a State Senator. She was elected and reelected in 2006 and 2010. In 2011, Whitmer's Democratic colleagues unanimously chose her to be the Senate Democratic Leader, making her the first woman to lead a party caucus in the Senate. She continued in that role for the remainder of her time there.[4] Due to term limits, Whitmer was unable to run for reelection in 2014 and left office in 2015.[9] In 2013, she received national recognition when she discussed her experience of being sexually assaulted.[10] She told the story during a debate about abortion rights, particularly for victims of rape, arguing victims should be allowed to terminate pregnancies which resulted from rape.[11]

Ingham County Prosecutor

On May 11, 2016, it was announced that the judges of Michigan's 30th Judicial Circuit Court had unanimously selected Whitmer to serve the remaining six months of the term of outgoing Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III[12] after he was arrested on March 14, 2016, and charged with 11 counts of involvement with a prostitute and four counts of willful neglect of duty.[13] In a letter dated March 29, 2016, Dunnings announced he would resign effective July 2.[14]

On June 21, 2016, Whitmer was administered the oath of office as prosecutor by Ingham County Circuit Court Chief Judge Janelle Lawless. She said her top priorities during her six months of service would be to determine if any other officials in the prosecutor's office knew about Dunnings's alleged crimes and to change how the office handled domestic violence and sexual assault cases.[15]

On July 22, 2016, Whitmer issued an 11-page report on whether Dunnings's alleged criminal activity had affected cases handled by the office. The report concluded that employees "were never asked to compromise a case or look the other way" and that she had "...full confidence that any problem that had existed in this office left with Mr. Dunnings."[16][17] Whitmer's term expired on December 31, 2016.

Governorship

Whitmer speaking at a National Guard ceremony in January 2019

2018 election

On January 3, 2017, Whitmer announced she would run in the 2018 Michigan gubernatorial race.[18]

On August 7, 2018, Whitmer became the Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan.[19] She won all 83 counties in the state in the Democratic primary[20].

In July 2018, Republican officials accused Whitmer of supporting the movement to abolish ICE, a claim Whitmer disputed. She said that if elected she would focus on improving Michigan's "fundamentals", such as schools, roads, and water systems.[21]

Whitmer's main opponent was Republican Bill Schuette, the term-limited Attorney General of Michigan. The two candidates met for a debate on October 12, 2018, in Grand Rapids at WOOD-TV. A second debate was held at WDIV studios in Detroit on October 24.[22]

Whitmer defeated Schuette in the November 6 election by nearly a 10-point margin.[23]

Tenure

Whitmer casts herself as able to work with state legislators from different political perspectives.

As both a gubernatorial candidate and as governor, one of Whitmer's key pledges was to "fix the damn roads", a reference to Michigan's struggling infrastructure. But her initial post-election plan to fund road repairs with a 45-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase was deeply unpopular, with one poll finding it opposed by 75% of Michigan voters, including majorities of both Democrats and independents.[24] Even Democratic legislators in Michigan's Republican-controlled legislature largely declined to support the plan, which would have nearly tripled Michigan's gas tax and potentially made it the highest in the nation.[25] [26]

Whitmer's first budget earmarked several billions of dollars for investment in infrastructure.[27][28][29] In 2019, she struggled with the Republican-controlled legislature to pass a budget and made several concessions.[27]

The gubernatorial election and national conversation during Whitmer's time in office focused largely on healthcare. During the election, she was the only Democratic candidate not to support a single-payer healthcare system.[30] As governor, she has focused on women's healthcare and Medicaid expansion.[27]

In February 2020, Whitmer was selected to deliver the Democratic response to Donald Trump's 2020 State of the Union Address. Michigan is considered a swing state in the 2020 presidential election, and it was speculated that Democrats hoped selecting Whitmer would bolster their chance of winning the state.[27][31][32]

Electoral history

Michigan House of Representatives District 70 Democratic Primary, 2000[33]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer 2,434 47.4 N/A
Democratic Mary Lindemann 2,152 41.9 N/A
Democratic John Schlinker 284 5.5 N/A
Democratic Robert McCann 263 5.1 N/A
Majority 281 5.5 N/A
Michigan House of Representatives District 70 Election, 2000[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer 17,409 56.6 -0.1
Republican Bill Hollister 13,355 43.4 +3.6
Majority 4,054 13.2 -3.7
Turnout 30,764 +21.5
Democratic hold Swing
Michigan House of Representatives District 69 Election, 2002[35]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer 18,002 62.5 +5.9
Republican Larry Ward 10,783 37.5 -5.9
Majority 7,219 25.0 -10.8
Turnout 28,785 +12.9
Democratic hold Swing
Michigan House of Representatives District 69 Election, 2004[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer (I) 26,828 65.7 +3.2
Republican Angela Lindsay 14,307 34.3 -3.2
Majority 12,521 31.4 +6.4
Turnout 40,865 +42.0
Democratic hold Swing
Michigan Senate District 23 Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer 64,404 69.8 +16.4
Republican Frank Lambert 27,931 30.2 +16.4
Majority 36,473 39.5 +32.8
Turnout 92,335 100 +11.6
Democratic hold Swing +16.4
Michigan State Senate District 23 Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer (Incumbent) 49,974 64.0 -5.8
Republican Kyle Haubrich 28,127 36.0 +5.8
Majority 21,847 28.0 -11.6
Turnout 78,101 100 -15.4
Democratic hold Swing -5.8
Michigan gubernatorial election, 2018[37][38]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Gretchen Whitmer
Garlin Gilchrist
2,256,791 53.34% +6.48%
Republican Bill Schuette
Lisa Posthumus Lyons
1,853,650 43.81% -7.11%
Libertarian Bill Gelineau
Angelique Chaiser Thomas
56,752 1.34% +0.21%
Green Jennifer V. Kurland
Charin H. Davenport
28,857 0.68% +0.21%
Constitution Todd Schleiger
Earl P. Lackie
24,701 0.58% -0.03%
Natural Law Keith Butkovitch
Raymond Warner
10,258 0.24% -
Majority 403,141 9.53% +5.47%
Turnout 4,231,009 34.04%
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

Political positions

Education

Whitmer would like to phase in full-day Universal Pre-K for 4-year-olds in Michigan. She also wants to reduce the cost of childcare for struggling families. She would eliminate Michigan's current 3rd grade "read or flunk" policy, which she has said penalizes students who have been failed by the education system, and would instead work to improve their reading skills. She proposes that all high school students be offered two years of debt-free higher education, either college or post-secondary training for skilled trades.[39]

Health care

Whitmer has said she would fight Republican efforts to take away protections for patients with preexisting conditions. In the State Senate, Whitmer successfully worked to expand Medicaid coverage in the state. She has spoken against single-payer healthcare as unrealistic. She has stated she would work to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and would get rid of Shuette's drug immunity law, which she believes protects drug companies from legal trouble if their drugs harm or kill people.[40]

Taxation

In March 2019 Whitmer proposed increasing the gasoline tax 45 cents per gallon to fund road repairs. If it is enacted Michigan will have the highest fuel tax in the United States.[41]

Personal life

Whitmer has two children with her first husband, Gary Shrewsbury. The couple divorced, and in 2011 she married dentist Marc Mallory, who has three children from his previous marriage.[42][43] Whitmer and Mallory live in East Lansing, Michigan, with her two daughters, Sherry and Sydney, and his three sons, Alex, Mason, and Winston.[44][45]

References

  1. ^ "Monday Profile: Gretchen Whitmer". LegalNews.com. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  2. ^ "SHARON WHITMER Obituary - Detroit, Michigan | Legacy.com".
  3. ^ "Blue Cross takes punches in governor's race". Crain's Detroit Business. July 8, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Stateline Profile Gretchen Whitmer" (PDF). csgmidwest.org/. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "Gretchen Whitmer's perplexing problem in race for Michigan governor". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Mathews, Reena (January 17, 2017). "FHC alumna Senator Gretchen Whitmer is running for Governor". The Central Trend. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  7. ^ Jilani, Zaid (July 18, 2018). "A Blue Cross CEO Encouraged a Michigan Woman to Get Into Politics. Now She's Running for Governor and Says Single Payer Is Unrealistic". The Intercept. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Michigan Legislative Service Bureau (2006). Michigan Manual 2005–2006. Lansing: Legislative Council, State of Michigan. p. 129. ISBN 1-878210-06-8. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
  9. ^ Michigan Senate Democrats (2007). "Michigan Senate Democrats: About Gretchen Whitmer". Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
  10. ^ Smith, Mitch (February 4, 2020). "Who Is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, the Democrats' Answer to Trump?". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  11. ^ Abbey-Lambertz, Kate (December 12, 2013). "Lawmaker Bravely Reveals She Was Victim Of Rape In Emotional 'Abortion Insurance' Debate". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  12. ^ Justin A. Hicks (May 11, 2016). "Whitmer chosen for interim Ingham County prosecutor". Lansing State Journal.
  13. ^ Emily Lawler (March 14, 2016). "Ingham County Prosecutor allegedly engaged prostitutes 'hundreds of times'". MLive Media Group. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  14. ^ Benjamin Raven (March 29, 2016). "Stuart Dunnings informs Ingham County he is resigning as prosecutor". Jackson Citizen Patriot. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  15. ^ Matt Mencarini and Justin A. Hinkley (June 22, 2016). "Whitmer 'looking forward' to starting as prosecutor". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2016.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  16. ^ Justin A. Hinkley (July 22, 2016). "Cases unaffected by Dunnings' alleged crimes, Whitmer says". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  17. ^ Whitmer, Gretchen (July 22, 2016). "Report on the Status of the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office" (PDF). Ingham County Prosecutor's Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 3, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  18. ^ Whitmer, Gretchen (January 3, 2017). "I'm ready — are you?". Medium. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  19. ^ "Whitmer and Schuette Win Michigan Governor's Nominations". nytimes.com. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "AP Interview: Whitmer focuses on 'fundamentals' like roads". apnews.com. September 15, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  22. ^ "Gretchen Whitmer, Bill Schuette butt heads at first gubernatorial debate". mlive.com. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  23. ^ "Michigan Election Results". New York Times. The Associated Press.
  24. ^ Livengood, Chad (April 18, 2019). "Poll: 75% oppose Whitmer's 45-cent gas tax hike plan". Crain's Detroit Business. Crain Communications. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  25. ^ Beggin, Riley (August 29, 2019). "Michigan House Dem leader says Whitmer's 45-cent gas tax is probably dead". Bridge Michigan. Center for Michigan. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  26. ^ Malewitz, Jim; Wilkinson, Mike (March 4, 2019). "Gretchen Whitmer's plan to fix Michigan roads: Nearly triple gas tax". Bridge Michigan. Center for Michigan. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  27. ^ a b c d CNN, Devan Cole (February 4, 2020). "Michigan governor's response to Trump's State of the Union to highlight state Democrats want to win in 2020". CNN. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  28. ^ Law, Tara (February 4, 2020). "Gretchen Whitmer Is Giving the Democrats' State of the Union Response. Here's What to Know". Time. TIME. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  29. ^ Neavling, Steve (September 9, 2019). "Whitmer breaks pledge to 'fix the damn roads' under new budget". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  30. ^ Jilani, Zaid (July 18, 2018). "A Blue Cross CEO Encouraged a Michigan Woman to Get Into Politics. Now She's Running for Governor and Says Single Payer Is Unrealistic". The Intercept. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  31. ^ Lawler, Emily; Barrett, Michael (February 4, 2020). "5 things to know about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as she takes the national stage". Michigan Live. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  32. ^ Smith, Mitch (February 4, 2020). "Democrats Turn to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan for Trump State of the Union Response". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  33. ^ "2000 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. September 28, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  34. ^ "2000 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. September 28, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  35. ^ "2002 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. September 28, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  36. ^ "2004 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. September 28, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  37. ^ "2018 Michigan Official General Election Results - 11/06/2018". mielections.us.
  38. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 16, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ "What Michigan schools will look like under Governor Whitmer or Schuette". October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  40. ^ Jilani, Zaid (July 18, 2018). "A Blue Cross CEO Encouraged a Michigan Woman to Get Into Politics. Now She's Running for Governor and Says Single Payer Is Unrealistic". The Intercept-US. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  41. ^ "Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to propose 45-cent hike in fuel tax to fund Michigan roads". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  42. ^ "Whitmer rises to establishment choice in Democrats' gov race". Detroit News. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  43. ^ "Meet Gretchen – Gretchen Whitmer for Governor". Gretchen Whitmer for Governor. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  44. ^ "Monday Profile: Gretchen Whitmer". Oakland Legal News. April 11, 2016. Archived from the original on December 26, 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  45. ^ VanderKolk, Kevin (January 4, 2017). "Skubick: Whitmer family joins in run for governor". WLNS. Retrieved August 10, 2018.

External links

Michigan Senate
Preceded by
Virgil Bernero
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 23rd district

2006–2015
Succeeded by
Curtis Hertel Jr.
Preceded by
Mike Prusi
Minority Leader of the Michigan Senate
2011–2015
Succeeded by
Jim Ananich
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark Schauer
Democratic nominee for Governor of Michigan
2018
Most recent
Preceded by
Stacey Abrams
Response to the State of the Union address
2020
Political offices
Preceded by
Rick Snyder
Governor of Michigan
2019–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Michigan
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Asa Hutchinson
as Governor of Arkansas
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Michigan
Succeeded by
Ron DeSantis
as Governor of Florida
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