Brinks and Tate make Michigan history as next leaders of the Legislature 

By: - November 10, 2022 6:58 pm

New Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (L) and House Speaker Joe Tate (R) | Courtesy photos

When Lansing rings in the new year in January 2023, the state Legislature will have new leaders in both Democratic-led chambers.

Democratic candidates sweeped Tuesday’s midterm election, making history by gaining control of the Michigan Senate for the first time since 1984 and the Michigan House for the first time since 2011.

Also historic are the new faces of each chamber’s incoming leaders, as chosen Thursday by the New Democratic caucuses. State Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) will be the Senate majority leader, making her the first woman to lead either chamber. 

Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) will be the first African American to be House speaker (and first person of color to lead either chamber).

On the Republican side, state Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) and state Rep. Matt Hall (R-Marshall) — who before Tuesday had been widely predicted to be the Senate majority leader and House speaker, respectively — will now lead their caucuses as the minority in the Senate and House.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (L) and House Minority Leader Matt Hall | Courtesy photos

Caucus votes were cast in the Michigan Capitol on Thursday for all leadership positions within each caucus. State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) was also reportedly in the running for Senate majority leader, while state Reps. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp.) and Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Twp.) had both thrown their hats in the ring for speaker earlier.

“I am honored to be elected by my peers to lead the first Democratic Majority in the Michigan Senate since 1983,” Brinks said in a statement. “Along with Democratic leadership in the House and governor’s office, we are ready to lead a legislature that prioritizes people over politics.

“With 12 women and eight men, the Senate Democrats make up a dynamic, diverse caucus that is ready to work with Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer to make the Great Lakes State a place where people can thrive and I’m excited to lead this talented team of legislators.”

Whitmer, a Democrat, served as Senate minority leader from 2011 to 2014.

Democrats are set to take a 56-54 majority in the state House next term.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be chosen to serve as the next Speaker of the House. The people of Michigan chose Democratic leadership for the future of Michigan, and we have a terrific caucus that will be legislating from the majority in the 102nd Legislature,” Tate said. “This is a historic opportunity to do true work for the people — to forge a future for Michigan that supports the needs of all Michiganders.”

Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said Tate’s and Brinks’ elections “mark the conclusion of a successful campaign season.”

“Joe Tate and Winnie Brinks understand the importance of protecting our union freedoms, collective bargaining rights, and repealing anti-labor legislation like so-called right-to-work,” Bieber said. “Their outstanding record of progressive legislative action, and commitment to building a cleaner, greener economy with Michigan workers, positions them to be effective champions and unifying leaders for the first pro-labor trifecta in decades.”

Sen.-elect Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) has been chosen to serve as the chamber’s majority floor leader. 

“Along with Majority Leader Winnie Brinks and the rest of the Democratic caucus, I look forward to fighting for Michiganders from all walks of life,” Singh said in a statement. “The folks in our state deserve nothing less and I am thrilled to lead this principled group of senators in delivering real results for all Michiganders.”

Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) or will serve as the House’s majority floor leader. He is the first Muslim to serve in that role. 

“We are very excited to get to work for the people of Michigan. This is their chamber and it’s time it returns to doing real work for the people,” Aiyash said. “We’ve got a robust platform that we know the majority of Michiganders expect us to deliver. We’ve got serious work to do to protect our air, land and water, and ensure we have a thriving economy that supports working families from Marquette to Monroe. The people expect us to do the job and we have every intention to hit the ground running.”

Hall said that Michigan families “are going through tough times right now. They want strong leadership at the Capitol that will focus on lowering inflation and increasing jobs and that knows how to get things done.”

Nesbitt said that while “the results of this week’s election were not what we hoped, I am honored to be chosen by my peers to lead the Republican caucus.”

Whitmer issued a statement congratulating Brinks and Tate. 

“There is so much we can do together. Make bolder investments in families, education, and infrastructure, grow our economy by bringing home tens of thousands more manufacturing jobs, and protect women’s rights, civil rights, and worker’s rights,” she said. 

The governor also congratulated Hall and Nesbitt, saying, “In the years ahead, we will face our fair share of challenges, but I have no doubt that by working together across the aisle, we can move Michigan forward.”


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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.