Whitmer taps Detroit-born 'tech guru' Gilchrist as Michigan running mate
The race for the Michigan governor's mansion is now set as Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer announced her running mate Monday, during a public announcement in Lansing.
With the state Capitol as a backdrop, Whitmer made it official: Her running mate for the race to the governor’s office is Garlin Gilchrist II, a 35-year-old a tech guru who was born and raised in Detroit.
"I wanted someone who's got my back, who's going to work just as hard as I do — that has integrity, that knows how to get things done," Whitmer said while announcing her pick on a closed-off Lansing street. "Garlin Gilchrist fits all those requirements to the max."
Gilchrist has not previously run for public office, but he previously worked as Detroit's first director of innovation and emerging technology and created a system for residents to report problems such as potholes and broken street lights.
After earning an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, Gilchrist moved to Washington state to work for Microsoft as a software engineer. Then, in 2008, he worked as a social media manager for the Barack Obama campaign. He later worked at the Center for Community Change and MoveOn.org in Washington, D.C., on campaigns to expand Medicaid, fight poverty and promote economic, racial and environmental justice.
In 2014, he returned to Detroit, where he lives with his wife and their twin son and daughter. Since February, Gilchrist has served as the founding executive director of the Center for Social Media Responsibility at the University of Michigan. He will be taking a leave of absence from the job during the campaign.
On Monday, Gilchrist told the crowd attending the announcement that he's excited to join the Whitmer ticket and is ready to continue her momentum.
"I'm ready to roll up my sleeves to work alongside Gretchen Whitmer, to make build a better Michigan and make this state what we dream about, make this state where my 4-year-old children won't want to leave to go pursue opportunity because they can get it right here at home,” Gilchrist said. “Gretchen, thank you so much for inviting me, let's get to work"
Gilchrist, who is black, also brings racial and gender diversity to the Democratic ticket, which now has women leading all statewide offices for the party.
Both Gilchrist and Lyons are expected to be formally nominated as lieutenant governor candidates at political party conventions this weekend.
The Michigan Republican Party criticized Whitmer's choice, saying Gilchrist is too inexperienced to run the state, if needed. A pro-Schuette super political action committee, noting Gilchrist's work for MoveOn, pronounced the Whitmer-Gilchrist ticket as "the most liberal" in state history and criticized Gilchrist for filing campaign-finance reports late.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.