Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at Affirmations in Ferndale, June 3, 2019 | Derek Robertson
A ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote went slightly off-the-rails when a local TV reporter asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if she thinks “angry women” will play a decisive role in the 2020 presidential election.
“Governor, could you speak to the power of the female vote, please? In the next election do you think that angry women will decide who the next president of the United States will be?” asked Tim Skubick, a longtime Lansing TV reporter, anchor and producer of the weekly public series “Off the Record.”
“I think that smart women will decide who the president of the United States is gonna be, Tim,” Whitmer said.
With the memory still fresh of President Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” comments, anti-abortion measures advancing in Michigan and approved by state governments in Alabama and Georgia, women have “a lot of reasons” to be “engaged,” Whitmer said.
“I think that every single day, those of us who are mothers fight for our kids. Those of us who want full access to the panoply of medical care are going to be speaking out and voting. I think that every one of us who wants to be respected and protected in the workplace is going to speak out, as well. I believe that what we’re confronting as a country affects every single one of us and we’re gonna see historic turnout in the next election. And we’re going to see women voting in record numbers,” the governor said.
The event was attended by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, state House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) and other legislators.
Whitmer added later that although Michigan and the nation have made “great strides” in the fight for women’s rights since the 19th Amendment was ratified, there is still a long way to go — from protecting abortion rights and closing the gender wage gap to getting more women elected to office.
Women won every key statewide elected office in 2018.
Whitmer is the state’s second female governor after Democratic former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, to whom her campaign opponent — GOP former Attorney General Bill Schuette — constantly drew parallels.
“We know that we are still the minority voice in a lot of respects,” Whitmer said at the event in the governor’s ceremonial office. “I mean, look around this room at the pictures on the wall. There have only been two women governors in the history of the state of Michigan, and because there’s so few of us we get compared to one another.
“So when that ceases, we’ve really achieved equality,” she said. “But we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
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