Politics

Lengel: Michigan's Whitmer Should Be Relieved She's Not the VP Pick

August 11, 2020, 5:55 PM by  Allan Lengel

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Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should consider herself lucky that she wasn’t selected to be Joe Biden’s running mate.

The optics would have been terrible, for starters.  Abandoning the state of Michigan in the middle of a pandemic? After less than two years in office? Not quite Sarah Palin level, but close.

And she would squander the political capital she gained by taking Covid-19 seriously in Michigan, where the early hot spot of Detroit showed how disproportionately this disease affects Black people. Many who were expecting a person of color to fill the VP spot would resent that.

Whitmer is 48 and still has a bright future in the Democratic Party. She can wait to climb the ladder.

Granted, bright futures can dim quickly with an unfortunate turn of events.  No one knows that better than her predecessor, Rick Snyder, who flirted with running for president or at least getting a cabinet position with the right Republican candidate.

Then came the Flint water crisis. His political future suddenly was doomed. Not only did no one want his endorsement, you could almost hear “Rick Who?” in leadership circles.

Whitmer has gotten high marks from the majority of  Michigan residents on her handling of the pandemic, and polling shows she’s far more popular than President Trump, with whom she has battled.

But after nearly two years, she’s still short on legislative victories. This gives her time to finish her term and deliver on something more than a coherent approach to the virus. 

Should Biden win, she’ll have an in at the White House, having built a relationship with him this spring and summer.

That’s good for Michigan.

And after all, that’s what a first-term Michigan governor should care most about.



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