After a hard-fought primary and general election, Michiganders have chosen Gretchen Whitmer as the successor to term-limited outgoing Republican Governor Rick Snyder.
With 31.7 percent of precincts reporting, Detroit’s local FOX affiliate has declared Democrat Gretchen Whitmer the next Governor of Michigan at 10:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time. She took 52 percent of the vote as of this reporting.
Whitmer replaces a governor marked by two lasting and significant scandals in his tenure; the practice of emergency financial managers and the Flint Water Crisis rocked Snyder’s first and second terms respectively, with the latter becoming a national conversation that nears its fifth anniversary.
Following Snyder presents a host of problems, not the least of which is that the crises that Snyder faces aren’t really resolved. The state’s economy is changing and the future is uncertain, Flint residents don’t trust government officials who tell them their water is safe and the effects left by the toxic water in Flint will last for at least a generation.
Schuette got national political attention when a video of him from 1989 circulated on the internet. The video showed him making unwanted and truly awkward advances (and uncomfortably overpronouncing Van Gogh) toward a woman in what his campaign called an “embarrassing” outtake from an interview. The clip was widely circulated, eventually making it to a segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Schuette wasn’t even particularly well-liked among fellow Republicans, with major funding sources leaving the state in September and a failure to get Snyder’s endorsement showing a lack of faith in the candidate.
This was a strong indicator in favor of Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer ran as a strong supporter of the LBGT community and as a champion in the #MeToo movement, including the sharing of her own #MeToo story with the state. Whitmer’s central thrust, however, was her devotion to “Fix the Damn Roads” in a state where infrastructure is in dire need and road repair seems an evergreen issue that is often mentioned but rarely actually addressed.
Michigan’s next governor will have a slate of issues in front of him/her. Not only is the question of what Republicans will do about the minimum wage increase they plan to roll back something the new administration will have to deal with, but the approaching fifth anniversary of the Flint Water Crisis looms large in the state’s near future.
Governor Whitmer will have a world of work in the coming four years.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.