Whitmer: MIGOP co-chair calling 1st Black LG a ‘scary masked man’ was racist

Gov. also talks COVID, ‘critical race theory’ and the GOP false elector scheme

By: - January 26, 2022 7:43 am

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (left) and MIGOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock (right) | Susan J. Demas and MIGOP photos

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told the Michigan Advance Tuesday that Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock’s tweet last week that Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist was a “scary masked man” and his video would make “babies … cry” was racist. 

As the Advance first reported, Gilchrist — the state’s first African-American LG — posted a Twitter video on Thursday announcing he was back to doing events after both he and his daughter contracted COVID-19 earlier this month.

Maddock, who is married to state Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford), reposted the video Thursday night and remarked, “Show this video to a [sic] babies and watch them cry. Scary masked man should #StayHome.”

Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock Twitter post on Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Jan. 20, 2022

That came shortly after CNN broke a story that former President Donald Trump’s team directed the 2020 fake GOP elector scheme in Michigan and six other states to help overturn the Electoral College results and install him for another term, even though President Joe Biden won the election. That reporting featured leaked audio from Meshawn Maddock, saying, “We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that. I’m under a lot of scrutiny for that today.”

Many Democrats condemned Maddock’s tweet and affirmed their support for Gilchrist. The story has since made national news.

GOP former Attorney General Mike Cox — whose spouse, former Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox, lost a bitter battle last year to helm the party to Maddock and current Chair Ron Wesier — tweeted: “No one even remembered who Michigan’s LT Gov  was until the white hooded @CoChairMeshawn dropped her racist tweet.”

However, most Republicans have stayed silent. The Advance asked Whitmer if Maddock’s statement was racist and if she expects any current GOP officials or candidates to condemn it.

“They should. And yes it is, and they should,” she said. “Last week, I was asked by many people in the media how I felt about a post that a staff person at the [Michigan Democratic Party] put up about parents having the ability to weigh in on their kids curriculum and education. This is a post by a co-chair of the Republican Party, and every elected official on that side of the ballot should weigh in. And I hope they weigh on the side that this is unacceptable, and it’s just terrible to see, and we can’t let this become the norm.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel, Dec. 20, 2021 | Laina G. Stebbins

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said last week there is “absolutely” enough election fraud evidence to charge the 16 false electors — which include Maddock — who attempted to submit a 2020 Electoral College certificate for Trump. She has referred the investigation to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Michigan. The U.S. House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol also is reportedly looking into the issue.

The Advance asked Whitmer if she thinks the fake Republican electors should be charged at the state or federal level.

“I will leave that to the attorney general, our state attorney general, and the U.S. attorney general [Merrick Garland],” Whitmer said. “I think efforts to undermine and to defraud our elections are serious and merit accountability.”

Republicans in Michigan and several other states have been pushing bills banning “critical race theory,” a college-level theory examining systemic effects of white supremacy in America that the vast majority of K-12 schools in the state do not teach. The effort has been fueled by right-wing think tanks. 

The Advance asked Whitmer if she would sign any of the Republican bills banning critical race theory or the way that race is taught in school.

“I’m going to stay focused on spending all my energy to make sure that our kids have the resources and the support they need to prepare them for the world,” she said. “And I know this is an election year and there’s going to be all sorts of outrageous statements and claims, I’m not going to get caught up in it, I’m going to stay focused on making sure that we’re delivering for the people of this state. That’s what I was hired to do. That’s what I’ve always stayed focused on. It’s the kitchen-table issues of making sure that our kids have the support they need to be successful in life. And that’s my north star.”

It’s been almost two years since the first COVID cases were reported in Michigan in March 2020. Michigan’s vaccination rate continues to lag most other states. Meanwhile, the state hasn’t implemented new COVID restrictions during the omicron wave that has shattered case and hospitalization records and Whitmer has expressed some doubts about vaccine mandates. 

The Advance asked the governor what it will take to get past this pandemic and move on to a less deadly endemic phase.

Gov.. Gretchen Whitmer, Jan. 25, 2022 | Screenshot

“I’m listening to the national experts we routinely check in with our experts at the University of Michigan and the Department of Health and Human Services,” Whitmer said. “They do anticipate that we may be doing boosters every year, like we do with the flu shot, that this virus is mutating and while omicron was so much more contagious, apparently it’s less deadly. And that they anticipate that the virus will continue to mutate and … the recipe for, this is my layman’s term, will change, but that there will probably still be a need to get vaccinated.

Whitmer added that “no one knows exactly how often” vaccine doses will be needed “and what that looks like, but it does look like we’re going to have to learn to live with this. And it’ll change, and to prejudge it, I think would be foolish on my part, so I’m not going to. I can just say that we will continue to do everything we can to keep people safe, and to start to reengage in life where we can. And stay focused on the fundamentals, keeping our kids in school, getting people back into the workforce, which we’ve seen a lot of strides there, and supporting our kids with the wraparound resources they need to get past the incredible destruction that the pandemic has had on their education.”

Earlier this month, Whitmer’s husband, Dr. Marc Mallory, tested positive for COVID-19. She tested negative. Mallory was fully vaccinated and had his booster shot and Whitmer told the Advance Tuesday that he had fully recovered.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on 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, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. 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 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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