Breaking: Whitmer endorses Barnes for Michigan Democratic Party chair

By: - December 17, 2018 3:13 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Andrew Roth

Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer today endorsed Lavora Barnes as the next Michigan Democratic Party chair.

In an exclusive interview with the Advance this morning, Whitmer said that she believes that Barnes, who currently serves as the MDP’s chief operating officer, is the best person for the job.

Lavora Barnes

“Lavora was a critical partner in this last cycle,” said Whitmer, a Democratic former state Senate minority leader. “She is so smart and works so hard and I think is an inspirational leader. … There is no one better prepared to take it on than she.”

Current Chair Brandon Dillon, who has served since 2015, announced last week he will not run for re-election next year. Dillon told the Advance in an interview last week before Barnes declared that she “would be an incredible state party chair.”

Dillon’s decision to step aside came after big 2018 victories for Dems. They flipped two congressional seats; elected a Democratic governor, attorney general and secretary of state; re-elected a U.S. senator; and made gains in the GOP-controlled Legislature, among other statewide and local wins.

Brandon Dillon

The endorsement of the incoming governor will loom large over the developing MDP chair race. Other candidates include Lisa DiRado, a chemist and Southeast Michigan party activist, and state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor). Abdul El-Sayed, who Whitmer beat in the August Democratic gubernatorial primary, has said he is not interesting in running for chair.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Advance, Whitmer also talked about the transition and meeting with Gov. Rick Snyder, the GOP-led Legislature’s “power grab” bills, the 2020 election, meeting with President Trump at the White House last week, sexism on the campaign trail and more. The Advance will have additional coverage.

Whitmer defeated Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette by 9 points on Nov. 6. She will be sworn in as Michigan’s 49th governor on Jan. 1.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 23-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ people, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 100 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.