Whitmer: Still no interest in VP, why she’s met with female presidential candidates

By: - June 4, 2019 6:30 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Susan J. Demas

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first said last year in an interview with the Advance that she wasn’t interested in being on the presidential ticket.

That was before the Democrat took office and there’s been a stampede of candidates declaring since then, so has anything changed?


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s event in Clawson, March 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Whitmer told the Advance during a sit-down interview on Mackinac Island that she has seen her name mentioned in national coverage, however:

Michigan Advance: So when we talked in December, you said that you had no interest in being on the presidential ticket. Has that changed at all?

Whitmer: No.

Michigan Advance: Has anybody seriously talked to you since then?

Whitmer: I’ve seen my name in national articles, but no.

The governor did invite via Twitter the Democratic presidential contenders — 24 and counting — to visit Michigan. So far, 11 have taken Whitmer up on her offer: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former U.S. Rep. Beto O-Rourke (D-Texas), U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), businessman Andrew Yang, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), former Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam and self-help guru Marianne Williamson.

“Well, I think that the fact of the matter is that all roads to the White House lead through the state Michigan,” Whitmer said on MSNBC in March after extending her invitation.

Susan J. Demas: The road to the White House runs through Michigan (so far)

Of the events, Whitmer has attended Harris’ speech at the NAACP Detroit dinner in May, Klobuchar’s keynote at the Michigan Democratic Party Women’s Caucus luncheon in May; and Gillibrand’s event sponsored by Fems for Dems in March. That’s all three of the female candidates who, so far, have campaigned in the Mitten State.

The Advance asked her about that last week:

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris addresses the Detroit NAACP dinner | Andrew Roth

Michigan Advance: So you’ve invited all of the presidential candidates to visit Michigan, but your public appearances have just been with the female candidates. Are you sending any kind of a message about the need for women to run for office?

Whitmer: Well, maybe the message send is that there is more planning. We did get much further notice ahead for the candidates that have been able to make … to spend some time with. And that’s critical in a schedule like the one that I keep.

Whitmer spokesman Zack Pohl noted to the Advance that “we don’t discuss the governor’s private phone calls, but she has spoken to several of the candidates by phone since the beginning of the year.”

Haslett road | Susan J. Demas

Spokeswoman Chelsea Lewis said on those calls, Whitmer has stressed “the need to have ongoing discussions with Michiganders about the fundamental issues facing our state, like fixing our roads, closing the skills gap and cleaning up drinking water.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is scheduled to stump in Detroit and Lansing on Tuesday. Whitmer is not scheduled to attend, but the Advance has learned they’re likely to talk by phone. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also is slated to campaign in Detroit on Tuesday.

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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.