Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, 48, has been tapped to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump‘s 2020 State of the Union address. Before the February 4 event begins at 9:00pm ET, learn more about Governor Whitmer, her policies, and why Democratic bigwigs like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are teasing a potential vice presidential run.
1. She said that she was “honored” to deliver the Democratic response. “I’m honored to discuss the Democratic Party’s vision of action for our nation from East Lansing High School, where my daughters are learning and preparing for the future,” Whitmer said in a statement on February 3. “Americans are good, hardworking people who expect our elected officials in the highest offices of government to work just as hard as we do every day. Democrats across the country have a plan to improve education, fix our infrastructure, expand and protect health care coverage, and build an economy that works for everyone.Our nation deserve this type of leadership, and we are ready to take action to get it done.”
2. She made history with her 2018 election win. Whitmer won all 83 counties in Michigan during the 2018 primary, and she won nearly 10 percentage points over Republican Bill Schutte, a candidate publicly backed by President Trump — the largest for a non-incumbent Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state in 86 years. Prior to becoming governor, she was the first female leader of the Democratic caucus in the Michigan state senate.
3. She rarely mentions Trump in public. Whitmer almost never brings up Trump as governor, which she says helps her avoid partisan fights. She told the Associated Press that she’s advised 2020 Democratic candidates to do the same while campaigning in Michigan. Voters in the state, according to Whitmer, are more focused on “fundamentals” and what a candidate will do for them as president, rather than Trump’s latest tweet.
4. She’s an outspoken proponent of women’s reproductive rights. Whitmer fought for health insurance coverage for abortions while a member of the Michigan state senate. During a 2013 legislative debate about that coverage, she publicly disclosed that she had been raped in college.
5. She’s shooting down rumors that she’ll be on the 2020 ticket. The State of the Union response is generally delivered by those viewed as rising stars in the party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to appoint Whitmer to the role fueled speculation that she could be asked to join the Democratic presidential ticket. However, Whitmer has repeatedly said that she doesn’t want the job.
“I have never been drawn to Washington, DC,” she told AP. “My family’s here in Michigan. I love this state and I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to serve as the governor. I’m not looking to join a ticket. But I do want to be a constructive part of making sure I’ve got a great partner in the White House.”