Whitmer pledges focus on Michigan economy after reelection

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledged to “hit the ground running” after winning her second four-year term

November 9, 2022, 12:17 PM

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledged Wednesday to “hit the ground running” and stay focused on the state’s economic fortunes in her second term but also celebrated Democrats’ sweep of statewide offices and voters’ apparent support for the party’s staunch backing of abortion rights and voting expansion.

“For the next four years, I ask you to believe in Michigan. To work with us and believe in our state. If we do, I know there is nothing we can’t accomplish,” Whitmer said Wednesday morning in Detroit. “I won’t make any predictions for the next four years but I can promise you this: we will make Michigan a place where you can envision your future.”

Republican challenger Tudor Dixon said in a statement that she had called Whitmer to concede the battleground state’s governor race.

While Michigan has been slow to bounce back from some of the country’s strictest COVID policies, Whitmer said in her victory speech that she would continue working to bring auto jobs back to the state and helping small businesses recover. She promised to continue “fighting like hell to protect fundamental rights as they’ve continued to be under assault across the nation.”

Whitmer was first elected in 2018 after years in the Legislature and has since become a leading voice in the Democratic Party, delivering the party’s response to former President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020. She has said in interviews that she will not run for president in 2024 even if President Joe Biden doesn’t seek reelection.

Whitmer led a statewide ticket of Democrats that centered their campaigns on abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Whitmer filed multiple lawsuits in state courts to block a 1931 law banning abortion from taking effect.

Whitmer also pushed a message of bipartisanship and unity Wednesday morning, saying that she would be a governor “for all of Michigan” and that she would work “with anyone that wants to get things done.”

While Michigan has been slow to bounce back from some of the country’s strictest COVID policies, Whitmer has said priorities in her second term include bringing auto jobs back to the state and helping small businesses recover.

“January 1 is less than 60 days away and I am committed to having a productive session through the end of this year. And then we’re going to hit the ground running for term two,” Whitmer said.

Dixon, who was endorsed by Trump, was a former political commentator and horror-film actress who struggled until late in the campaign to compete with Whitmer’s multimillion-dollar campaign fund.

Whitmer spent millions on ads attacking Dixon for being too “extreme” on abortion, which went unanswered for months as her Republican opponent struggled to fundraise. Dixon opposes the procedure in all cases except to save the life of the mother.

The Democrat also threw her support to a Michigan ballot measure seeking to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and overrule a 1931 law that was triggered after the fall of Roe v. Wade that would criminalize abortion. Michigan Democrats hoped the proposal would lead to high voter turnout statewide and give the party key victories in U.S. House and state legislative races.

While seemingly one-sided for months, a surge in funding from national Republicans and primetime debate performances helped increase Dixon's name recognition in a state that had a GOP governor just four years ago.

The economy was the top issue on the minds of Michigan voters, with about half saying it is the most pressing matter facing the nation, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 3,200 of the state’s voters.

Nearly all the state’s voters said rising prices for gas, groceries and other goods were a factor in how they voted, with half naming it as the single most important factor. And among the voters who said inflation was an issue in how they cast ballots, roughly half named rising food and grocery prices as the most important factor.

The rising prices are personal, with about a third of Michigan voters saying that their family is falling behind financially. Those voters were more likely to cast a ballot for Dixon.

Meanwhile, nearly 6 in 10 voters say their family’s financial situation is holding steady. Those voters were more likely to vote for Whitmer.

The outcome of the November race is significant beyond Michigan, a presidential election battleground. The winner will be in office for the 2024 contest, and could influence voting laws and how the election is conducted. Trump, Biden and former President Barack Obama all visited the state in recent weeks to rally support for their party’s candidates.


Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections


Foody reported from Chicago. AP reporter Amanda Seitz in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.


Joey Cappelletti is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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