Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Sen. Mallory McMorrow speak at the NewDEAL conference in Detroit, May 15, 2023 | Ken Coleman
During a conference centered on the “state of democracy,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist on Monday rallied a group of Democratic elected officials from across the country.
“Our story is compelling,” Gilchrist said at the event in Detroit.
Gilchrist was referring to Democrats’ effort on issues like reproductive freedom, voting rights protection and efforts to reduce gun violence during a midday forum sponsored by NewDEAL, a national nonprofit network of “rising” Democrats.
The two-day conference is designed to “elevate innovative pro-growth policies and outline top state and local priorities to defend democracy, combat climate change, and make government work for all,” according to sponsors.
On the first day at Detroit’s Shinola Hotel, Gilchrist and state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) addressed attendees.
McMorrow, who won a Republican-held state Senate seat in 2018 and went on to be a powerhouse fundraiser in 2022 following a viral speech backing LGBTQ+ rights, said her Senate office started live streaming to her district constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic instead of holding meetings at coffee houses and restaurants.
“We can’t assume that people know what is happening,” said McMorrow.
In June 2022, McMorrow announced that she had raised more than $1 million fundraising haul in three months to flip the GOP-controlled Michigan Senate. The state’s upper chamber is now led by Democrats for the first time since 1983. The state House also is now controlled by Democrats for the first time since 2010.
Gilchrist, first elected in 2018, is the first American American to serve in his post in state history. He and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won reelection last year in a landslide.
Several dozen officeholders from throughout the country attended the event, including Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, as well as state Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton), Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown). U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids) and former state Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) also attended.
Christine Hunschofsky, a state lawmaker from Florida, attended the conference and was impressed by McMorrow and Gilchrist’s presentation.
“It’s an idea summit,” said Hunschofsky, who was formerly the mayor of Parkland, Fla., where a mass gun violence high school incident occurred in 2018 that resulted in 17 people being killed and another 17 injured. “This is where we can get ideas from other states to enact policy. It’s here to sharpen us and make us better. I appreciate what Michigan is doing, especially when it comes to gun violence prevention.”
Following mass shootings at Oxford High School Oxford High School in 2021 and Michigan State University in February, the Legislature approved a package that aims to prevent and curb the gun violence that has traumatized children, parents and communities across the state. Whitmer in April signed bills at MSU for safe storage of firearms and background checks. The “red flag” or extreme risk prevention order legislation is on her desk
“We don’t have to live like this. And today, we are showing that we are not going to anymore,” Whitmer said last month.
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