Who is Gretchen Whitmer - Governor of Michigan: Biography, Time Life, Career and Family
|Gretchen Whitmer. Photo: New York Daily News|
Gretchen Whitmer is a proven fighter, who has mobilized Michiganders to take on the big problems facing our state, and who has challenged the status quo in Lansing to get things done for all Michiganders.
As a mom, former legislator, prosecutor, and Governor, she fights for the things that matter to people and put them first.
Whitmer was born on August 23, 1971, in Lansing, Michigan. Her father served as head of the Michigan Department of Commerce under Governor William Milliken and her mother was an assistant attorney general under Attorney General Frank Kelley. Whitmer earned her Bachelor of Arts in communications from Michigan State University in 1993 and her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law in 1998.
House of Representatives
Whitmer originally ran for the Michigan House of Representatives in the 1990s but was unsuccessful. In 2000, she tried again and was elected to represent the 23rd legislative district. She was reelected in 2002 and 2004, according to Historica.fandom.
In March 2006, Whitmer won a special election to the Michigan State Senate, replacing Virg Bernero, who had been elected mayor of Lansing in November 2005. She was elected to a full term in November and reelected in 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. Due to term limits, Whitmer was unable to run for reelection in 2014 and left office in 2015. In 2013, she received national recognition when she discussed her experience of being sexually assaulted. She told the story during a debate about abortion rights, particularly for victims of rape, arguing victims should be allowed to terminate pregnancies that result from rape.
|Photo: Michigan Radio|
On January 3, 2017, Whitmer announced she would run in the 2018 Michigan gubernatorial race. On August 7, 2018, Whitmer became the Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan. She won all 83 counties in the state in the Democratic primary.
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.
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. Whitmer defeated Schuette in the November 6 election by nearly a 10-point margin.
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. Her initial post-election plan to fund road repairs with a 45-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase was, however, deeply unpopular, with one poll finding it opposed by 75% of Michigan voters, including majorities of both Democrats and independents. 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.
Whitmer's first budget earmarked several billions of dollars for investment in infrastructure. In 2019, she struggled with the Republican-controlled legislature to pass a budget and made several concessions.
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. As governor, she has focused on women's healthcare and Medicaid expansion.
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.
In May 2020, the Edenville Dam gave way after awaiting an overdue report on its safety standards. Whitmer directed the EGLE to form an investigation that "state Republicans, flooding victim advocates, and dam safety experts" criticized, concerned that the state's environmental agency would essentially be investigating itself. Guidelines from the Association of State Dam Safety Officials advocate independent investigators. An inquiry launched by the U.S. House of Representatives later gave the EGLE and FERC a two-week deadline for answers.
Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. This order was met with broad public approval; a March poll found that 69% of Michigan residents supported Whitmer's actions, including 61% of self-identified Republicans.
Polling by the Detroit Regional Chamber in mid-April found that 57% of Michigan residents approved of Whitmer's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including the extension. The family of the first child to die of coronavirus in Michigan expressed support for Whitmer's decision to extend the stay-at-home order on the grounds that social distancing would save lives. LaVondria Herbert, the child's mother, said, "I want to say thank you to the governor for making people go home."
On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4–3 that "a state law allowing the governor to declare emergencies and keep them in place without legislative input—the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act—is unconstitutional" and unanimously ruled that the 1976 Emergency Management Act "did not give Whitmer the power, after April 30, to issue or renew any executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic after 28 days without Legislative approval".
Also on October 2, a petition containing 539,384 signatures was submitted seeking to repeal the 1945 EPGA law allowing Whitmer emergency powers during the pandemic.
On October 8, 2020, a federal indictment against six men associated with the Wolverine Watchmen, a Michigan-based militia group, was unsealed. The indictment charges the men with plotting to kidnap Whitmer and violently overthrow Michigan's government. The FBI became aware of the scheme in early 2020 after communications among the far-right group were discovered, and via an undercover agent who met with more than a dozen individuals at a meeting in Dublin, Ohio. Another seven men were charged with state crimes in relation to the plot. Facebook is cooperating with the investigation since the federal criminal complaint detailed how the group used a private Facebook group to discuss the alleged plot.
|Whitmer with her current husband and her 5 children. Photo: Gretchen Whitmer for Governor.|
Whitmer has two children with her first husband, Gary Shrewsbury. The couple divorced, and in 2011 she married dentist Marc P. Mallory, who has three children from his previous marriage. Whitmer and Mallory live in East Lansing, Michigan, with her two daughters and his three sons.
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