|49th Governor of Michigan|
|Assumed office |
January 1, 2019
|Preceded by||Rick Snyder|
|Ingham County Prosecutor|
July 21, 2016 – December 31, 2016
|Preceded by||Stuart Dunnings III|
|Succeeded by||Carol Siemon|
|Minority Leader of the Michigan Senate|
January 1, 2011 – January 1, 2015
|Preceded by||Mike Prusi|
|Succeeded by||Jim Ananich|
|Member of the Michigan Senate|
from the 23rd district
March 21, 2006 – January 1, 2015
|Preceded by||Virgil Bernero|
|Succeeded by||Curtis Hertel Jr.|
|Member of the |
Michigan House of Representatives
January 1, 2001 – March 21, 2006
|Preceded by||Laura Baird|
|Succeeded by||Mark Meadows|
|Constituency||70th district (2001–2003)|
69th district (2003–2006)
Gretchen Esther Whitmer
August 23, 1971
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
Marc P. Mallory
|Education||Michigan State University (BA, JD)|
Gretchen Esther Whitmer (born August 23, 1971) is an American politician serving as the 49th governor of Michigan since 2019. 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.
Whitmer was born and raised in Michigan. She is a graduate of 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. On October 8, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation thwarted a militia group's kidnapping plot against her.
Early life and education
Gretchen Whitmer was born on August 23, 1971, in Lansing, Michigan, the eldest of three children of Sharon H. "Sherry" Reisig and Richard Whitmer, both attorneys. Her father was head of the state department of commerce under Governor William Milliken and was the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan between 1988 and 2006. Whitmer's mother worked as an assistant attorney general under Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley. Her parents divorced when she was ten 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.
After graduation from Forest Hills Central High School, just outside Grand Rapids, Whitmer earned a BA degree in communications from Michigan State University in 1993 and a Juris Doctor from Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University 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.
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.
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 outgoing Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III's term 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. In a letter dated March 29, 2016, Dunnings announced he would resign effective July 2.
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.
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." Whitmer's term expired on December 31, 2016.
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 COVID-19 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.
After Whitmer extended the order and tightened restrictions in April, an eight-hour protest against the restrictions organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and co-hosted by the Michigan Freedom Fund attracted between 3,000 and 4,000 protesters to the Michigan State Capitol. New York Times columnist Charlie Warzel described the demonstration as "twisted, paranoid and racialized", pushed by conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News praised the protesters, saying, "God bless them, it’s going to happen all over the country". At the time of the protest, more than 1,900 people in Michigan had died after contracting the virus. On April 29 a Michigan judge upheld the order against legal challenge, ruling that "Our fellow residents have an interest to remain unharmed by a highly communicable and deadly virus. And since the state entered the Union in 1837, it has had the broad power to act for the public health of the entire state when faced with a public crisis.”
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.
In the wake of the unsealed indictment, Whitmer, in a livestream, thanked the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, called the plotters "sick and depraved men", and cast blame on Trump for refusing to explicitly condemn far-right groups and for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On November 18, 2020, three Republican members of the Michigan House of Representatives introduced House Resolution No. 324 to impeach Whitmer. The state senate majority leader and state house speaker (both Republicans) opposed calls for impeachment, calling them "shameful". The resolution was "dead on arrival", as the legislature was adjourned and not expected to take action in a lame-duck session.
Whitmer would like to phase in full-day Universal Pre-K for 4-year-olds in Michigan. 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.
Whitmer has said she would fight Republican efforts to take away protections for patients with preexisting conditions. In the State Senate, she successfully worked to expand Medicaid coverage in the state. She has spoken against single-payer healthcare as unrealistic and said 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.
In March 2019 Whitmer proposed increasing the gasoline tax by 45 cents per gallon to fund road repairs. It was not enacted.
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.
- "Feds search Livingston County property late Wednesday". The Detroit News. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Snell, Robert; Burke, Melissa Nann. "Feds say they thwarted militia plot to kidnap Whitmer". The Detroit News. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- "Monday Profile: Gretchen Whitmer". LegalNews.com. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- "SHARON WHITMER Obituary - Detroit, Michigan | Legacy.com". Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- "Blue Cross takes punches in governor's race". Crain's Detroit Business. July 8, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- "Stateline Profile Gretchen Whitmer" (PDF). csgmidwest.org/. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- "Gretchen Whitmer's perplexing problem in race for Michigan governor". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
- Mathews, Reena (January 17, 2017). "FHC alumna Senator Gretchen Whitmer is running for Governor". The Central Trend. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- Spelbring, Meredith. "Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to give SOTU response: What to know about her". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- BTL Staff. "Ingham County to hold special election to fill state Senate seat". PrideSource.com. Pride Source Media Group, LLC. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
- Michigan Senate Democrats (2007). "Michigan Senate Democrats: About Gretchen Whitmer". Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- 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.
- 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.
- Justin A. Hicks (May 11, 2016). "Whitmer chosen for interim Ingham County prosecutor". Lansing State Journal.
- Emily Lawler (March 14, 2016). "Ingham County Prosecutor allegedly engaged prostitutes 'hundreds of times'". MLive Media Group. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
- Benjamin Raven (March 29, 2016). "Stuart Dunnings informs Ingham County he is resigning as prosecutor". Jackson Citizen Patriot. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
- 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)
- Justin A. Hinkley (July 22, 2016). "Cases unaffected by Dunnings' alleged crimes, Whitmer says". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- 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.
- Whitmer, Gretchen (January 3, 2017). "I'm ready — are you?". Medium. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- "Whitmer and Schuette Win Michigan Governor's Nominations". nytimes.com. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "AP Interview: Whitmer focuses on 'fundamentals' like roads". apnews.com. September 15, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
- "Gretchen Whitmer, Bill Schuette butt heads at first gubernatorial debate". mlive.com. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
- "Michigan Election Results". New York Times. The Associated Press.
- Smith, Mitch (February 4, 2020). "Democrats Turn to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan for Trump State of the Union Response". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Neavling, Steve (September 9, 2019). "Whitmer breaks pledge to 'fix the damn roads' under new budget". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Beggin, Riley (May 31, 2020). "Michigan should have protected public from unsafe Edenville Dam, experts say". Bridge Magazine. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
- Beggin, Riley (June 2, 2020). "Congress launches probe of Michigan, federal oversight of failed Midland dam". Bridge Magazine. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
- Egan, Paul; Gray, Kathleen (April 15, 2020). "Gov. Whitmer says Capitol protesters put others at risk, may have worsened pandemic". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
- Poll: Michigan residents fear economic impact from coronavirus but support Whitmer’s response. Mlive.com, March 26, 2020
- LeBlanc, Beth; Mauger, Craig (April 15, 2020). "Whitmer to protesters: Rally will 'come at cost to people's health'". Detroit News. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
- Smith, Allan (April 15, 2020). "'Lock her up!': Anti-Whitmer coronavirus lockdown protestors swarm Michigan Capitol". NBC News. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- Wilson, Jason (April 17, 2020). "The rightwing groups behind wave of protests against Covid-19 restrictions". The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
- Gabbatt, Adam (April 18, 2020). "Thousands of Americans backed by rightwing donors gear up for protests". The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
- Gibbons, Lauren (April 15, 2020). "Thousands converge at Michigan Capitol to protest coronavirus stay-at-home order, Whitmer warns it will 'put more people at risk'". mLive. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
- "Protesters chant 'lock her up' after Michigan governor's stay-at-home order". The Guardian. April 15, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
- Egan, Paul; Berg, Kara (April 15, 2020). "Thousands converge to protest Michigan governor's stay-home order in 'Operation Gridlock'". USA Today. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- Warzel, Charlie (April 19, 2020). "Protesting for the Freedom to Catch the Coronavirus". The New York Times.
- Blake, Andrew (April 16, 2020). "Fox News hosts praise protesters for defying Michigan stay-at-home order". The Washington Times. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
- Judge rules Michigan stay-at-home order doesn’t infringe on constitutional rights. MLive, April 29, 2020
- Majority of Michigan residents support Governor Whitmer's coronavirus response, despite anti-lockdown protests, poll shows. Newsweek, April 20, 2020
- Panetta, Grace. "Despite high-profile protests, Michiganders overwhelmingly approve of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's handling of the coronavirus". Business Insider. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- "Michigan residents approve of Whitmer's handling of COVID-19 over Trump's, new poll shows". FOX 2 Detroit. April 20, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- "Poll: Michiganians favor Whitmer's COVID-19 handling over Trump's". Detroit News. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
- Palmer, Ewan (April 20, 2020). "Family of First Child to Die From Coronavirus in Michigan Express Support for Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Lockdown". Newsweek.
- LeBlanc, Beth; Mauger, Craig; Burke, Melissa Nann (October 2, 2020). "High court strikes down Whitmer's emergency powers; gov vows to use other means". The Detroit News.
- Lawler, Emily (October 2, 2020). "Unlock Michigan turns in 539k signatures to limit Gov. Whitmer's emergency powers". Mlive.com. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
- Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas; Dewan, Shaila; Gray, Kathleen (October 8, 2020). "F.B.I. Says Michigan Militia Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Snell, Robert. "Feds say they thwarted militia plot to kidnap Whitmer". The Detroit News. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- "FBI thwarted militia plot to kidnap Whitmer, overthrow state government". WJRT-TV. October 8, 2020. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Rocha, Veronica; Macaya, Melissa; Wagner, Meg (October 8, 2020). "Facebook cooperating with FBI in Michigan investigation, company says". CNN. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Carrega, Christina; Stracqualursi, Veronica; Campbell, Josh (October 8, 2020). "13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer". CNN. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Choi, Joseph (October 8, 2020). "Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer responds to kidnapping plot, says Trump 'complicit' in stoking extremists". The Hill. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Golding, Bruce (October 8, 2020). "Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blasts 'sick and depraved men' in kidnap plot". The New York Post. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- "HOUSE RESOLUTION NO.324". Michigan Legislature. Michigan Legislative Service Bureau. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- McFall, Caitlin (November 18, 2020). "Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer faces possible impeachment proceedings for 'corrupt conduct'". FOX News Channel (FNC). Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Mauger, Craig (November 18, 2020). "Whitmer impeachment resolution introduced, but key Republicans oppose". The Detroit News. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Dodge, Samuel (September 18, 2020). "Michigan House Speaker calls effort to impeach Whitmer as 'shameful' as Trump impeachment". mlive.com. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Bridge Staff (November 19, 2020). "Whitmer impeachment resolution dead upon arrival in Michigan Legislature". Bridge Michigan. Center for Michigan. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- "What Michigan schools will look like under Governor Whitmer or Schuette". October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
- 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.
- "Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to propose 45-cent hike in fuel tax to fund Michigan roads". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- "Whitmer rises to establishment choice in Democrats' gov race". Detroit News. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- "Meet Gretchen – Gretchen Whitmer for Governor". Gretchen Whitmer for Governor. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
- "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)
- VanderKolk, Kevin (January 4, 2017). "Skubick: Whitmer family joins in run for governor". WLNS. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gretchen Whitmer.|