The Women’s Wave is bringing its rising tide to the Great Lakes with Gretchen Whitmer’s victory in tonight’s Democratic primary for Michigan’s gubernatorial race.
With 27 percent of precincts reporting, the New York Times called the Michigan Democratic gubernatorial primary for Gretchen Whitmer, with 50 percent of the vote.
Whitmer stole the spotlight of Michigan Democrats in 2011 when she responded passionately to a state law that allowed and arguably encouraged the bullying of LBGT youth. Whitmer, at the time the state’s Senate Minority Leader, has carried the cause of LBGT Michiganders along for the long road to her current bid for Governor.
But Whitmer is perhaps best known for giving voice to the exasperated and often furious feeling Michiganders have about decaying infrastructure with a powerful campaign message: “Fix the Damn Roads.”
To Gretchen Whitmer, spending money to repair roads shouldn’t be that hard a pitch. Firstly, Michigan has some of the worst highways in America, which is a particular shame in the state that houses the auto industry. Secondly, as Whitmer explains, Michiganders are already paying more because of the dilapidated roads — on car repairs and maintenance.
In an otherwise cool and level debate performance, Whitmer showed a bit of raw, emotional response around women’s issues and the #MeToo movement. She has told her story before, and touched the nerve of the newest wave of feminism born out of the #MeToo moment.
Heading into the fall, there are some advantages Democrats have in securing the Governorship for Whitmer. Legalization of recreational marijuana and reforms to a deeply partisan redistricting process are both initiatives on the November ballot and should energize the left in Michigan.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Republican nominee for Governor, will also have to contend with shadows cast by larger figures in his party.
The specter of the Flint crisis still looms over Rick Snyder — Michigan’s outgoing Republican governor. And though Michigan voted for Trump in 2016, its approval of the Republican president has consistently run about ten points lower than national averages.
While the fall will be a harsh fight for Whitmer, in the battleground that is the Mitten hard elections are familiar territory.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.