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Candidate Profile: Whitmer points to legislative experience as reason to earn votes

Gretchen Whitmer (Photo courtesy: Gretchen Whitmer for Governor Campaign)

Gretchen Whitmer

  • Occupation: Candidate
  • Education: Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University, Michigan State University
  • Hometown: East Lansing, Mich.
  • Political Experience: Former Minority Leader in Michigan State Senate; Former Michigan Representative
  • Of Note: Served remaining six months of the term of outgoing Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III in 2016; First woman to lead a party caucus in Senate

Polls open for the Michigan Primary Election Tuesday at 7 a.m. and many campaigns are in the final stretch.

Former state senator Gretchen Whitmer has been pegged the front runner of the Democratic race in the final months of season and is seen as the establishment pick. She has endorsements from the United Auto Workers, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the Michigan AFL-CIO among others.

Whitmer has said her experience in the Michigan Legislature gives her an edge compared to her opponents.

“Yes I have experience, but I bring receipts and I think that’s what separates me apart,” she said.

Referring to her time in the state senate, Whitmer said she crossed party lines to ensure the Healthy Michigan Plan got signed into law. The Healthy Michigan Plan was part of the Affordable Care Act that expanded health coverage to thousands of Michiganders.

With a proposal right now to add a work requirement for those looking utilize the HMP, Whitmer said she believes this is an attempt by some lawmakers to take healthcare away from people.

“If I’d been governor, I would have vetoed that,” she said, noting that Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill in June.

Whitmer has made it a staple in her platform to talk about “fixing the damn roads.”

“That’s the most obvious place where our government is failing,” she said. “Just do your job!”

To address this issue, she has proposed a Rebuild Michigan Infrastructure Bank.

“That way we can utilize every opportunity to draw down federal money, to put $3 million into rebuilding our infrastructure immediately,” Whitmer explained.

The infrastructure plan goes beyond just roads and bridges. Whitmer said while roads are being rebuilt, she wants to replace anything else that needs updating.

“Like the lead pipes that deliver our water. Over 70 communities in Michigan have a higher lead count than Flint does,” she added.

When it comes to education, Whitmer believes schools need to be a priority for everyone, politicians included, and lawmakers need to listen to those who are on the ground and have experience.

“Right now, we are last in the Midwest, the bottom ten in the country; as a parent of kids in public schools, I am infuriated that the legislature and our governor listens more to Betsy Devos than me and my children and their teachers,” Whitmer said.

She plans to invest in a pre-kindergarten for students, ensuring “when they start kindergarten, they are ready to learn.” Whitmer said she went to public schools and believes every family should have the same opportunity for their children.

“It’s the backbone of our economy, the backbone of communities and the one thing that levels the playing field for our kids,” she said.

To make that investment, Whitmer said she would ‘stop the raid’ on the school budget. If that happens, the Democratic Candidate said, “You infuse about $750 million dollars a year into the school budget.”

Whitmer said because of her experience, she knows how to work with opposition and is ready to grow the state.

“This is about our lives, this is about making Michigan a place where our kids stay, where Michiganders can get ahead and where other people come for opportunity again,” she said. “I’m ready to work with anyone who wants to solve problems and I’ll take on anyone who stands in our way.”

For more information about Whitmer’s platform, head to her campaign website.

The democratic primary is crowded, with Whitmer, businessman Shri Thanedar and former Detroit health department director Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. Due to term limits, Governor Rick Snyder is not eligible for re-election.

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