A fighter for Michigan's working families
Gretchen Whitmer, is a lifelong Michigander and champion for working families. A product of East Lansing and Grand Rapids public schools, Gretchen twice graduated from Michigan State University, earning both her undergraduate and law degree in her home state. Gretchen’s parents were deeply involved in public service, and though her mother was a Democrat and her father was a Republican, both taught her the importance of putting others first. In their bipartisan household, she has said that both her parents “were leaders who really put the public interest above their own personal interest or above any special interests.” As a college student, Gretchen interned at the Michigan Capitol during a unique period in Michigan government when co-speakers shared power in an evenly split House. ‘It got me interested in the process,” she has said, “but more importantly, it made me realize the value in having a voice while public policy was being made.” She began her career as an attorney in private practice, arguing cases in Circuit Court and before the Michigan Public Service Commission. She was first elected to the state House in 2000 to fight for working families. Gretchen’s daughters were born when she was serving in the Legislature, and like so many working mothers, she had to get creative in a workplace not set up with their needs in mind — including pumping breast milk in a copy room because there was no other place in the Capitol. She quickly established a reputation as a problem solver who put her constituents first, and was voted by her peers as the most effective Democrat in the House. Gretchen was elected to the Michigan Senate in 2006, and made state history in 2010 as the first woman to lead a party caucus in the Senate. After being term-limited out of office, she taught a course in gender and law at her alma mater, Michigan State, focused on women’s legal rights and how much work is yet to be done to advance them. In 2016, she served as the Ingham County prosecutor. During her tenure, she set up a domestic violence unit to coordinate domestic and sexual violence cases within one group of dedicated professionals to advocate for survivors. Gretchen lives in East Lansing with her husband Marc and their blended family of her two daughters and his three sons.
Demanding accountability in Lansing
Gretchen never backs down from tackling the toughest problems facing Michigan’s working families, and she was a key leader in addressing Detroit’s fiscal crisis. The Flint water crisis was a powerful motivator in Gretchen’s decision to seek the governorship. “As a parent, every time I turn on the faucet, I think about the families in Flint,” she has said. “We need action. We need vision. And we need accountability.” She is a strong believer in the power of women’s leadership because when women’s voices are included, families and communities benefit from better policy outcomes. “Women care about the same issues everyone cares about,” Gretchen has said, “except we’re just acutely more aware and confronted with certain things that just aren’t equal.” Education is a top priority for Gretchen, who knows that strengthening schools and increasing educational opportunities for all Michiganders will create jobs and expand economic opportunities for working families. Her legislative accomplishments include leading the bipartisan passage of Healthy Michigan, which expanded access to Medicaid to more than 600,000 Michiganders. Gretchen also successfully led the fight against Republican efforts to create a loophole in an anti-bullying bill that would have told Michigan's students it was okay to bully other kids as long as it was based on “religious belief or moral conviction.” Gretchen made national headlines for her success in blocking this “license to bully” from becoming Michigan law. As a governor with executive authority, she would fight for all Michiganders to be treated with dignity and respect. As women’s rights are under attack like never before and millions of Americans’ access to health care is in jeopardy, Gretchen — a steadfast pro-choice champion — will fight back against the dangerous Republican agenda that seeks to turn back the clock on the progress we’ve worked so hard to make. Gretchen is an advocate for voting rights, and recognizes that when so many voters have to “stand in line, take off work, get childcare, try to figure out how to get transportation,” in order to make their voices heard, we must make it easier, not harder, to exercise this most fundamental American right.
Victory in the battle for a critical executive leadership position
“It’s got to be with resolve and Michigan grit that we can both be patriotic enough to respect the office, and fight the office holder when he's wrong,” Gretchen said as she addressed the Women’s March on Lansing in January the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Michiganders and the EMILY’s List community have seen the power of Democratic women in executive leadership positions, and Gretchen is the experienced leader we need to fight for our values. During a Republican administration, Democratic governors are uniquely positioned to show our country the power of innovative leadership in action and the enormous positive impact that the policies Democrats fight for can make. As governor, Gretchen will have executive authority to protect Michiganders from President Trump and his Republican allies’ dangerous agenda — and to serve as an example to the rest of our country of just how much we can accomplish together when an experienced, principled, and inclusive Democratic woman leads the way forward.