Whitmer says she will 'level' with people

By David Eggert
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrat Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that Michigan needs a governor who will level with the people and propose bold solutions to provide them economic opportunity and a better education.
The former state Senate minority leader told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview that the state for too long has had leaders “who have failed. They haven’t been straight with the public. They’ve politicized problems as opposed to working on solutions for them. I think we deserve better.”

Whitmer spoke a day after become the first candidate to launch a campaign for governor, saying she couldn’t wait to jump into the race. Second-term Republican Gov. Rick Snyder can’t run again in 2018 due to term limits.
“We need a leader who is not afraid to level with the people of this state, someone who’s ready to bring us together around bold solutions,” said Whitmer, a 45-year-old former prosecutor from East Lansing.

Alluding to Flint’s man-made water crisis, for which the Snyder administration has been deemed primarily responsible, she said Michigan needs leaders who “put people first” and “aren’t going to cut corners or jeopardize our health and safety.”

Snyder and the GOP-led Legislature frequently tout Michigan’s economic turnaround after a decade-long decline, citing a much-lower unemployment rate and the addition of hundreds of thousands of private-sector jobs on his watch.

“You can look at numbers and press releases and press statements and that kind of thing,” Whitmer said. “But the real measure that matters is whether or not the family in any given county feels economically secure — whether they feel confident that their kids are getting the education and skills they need to be successful. I think we still have a huge gap on both of those fronts.”

Turnout among Democrats was lackluster during Snyder’s 2014 re-election and the 2016 presidential election, when Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan in 28 years. But after what will have been eight years of GOP control in Lansing and two years of a Trump presidency and a Republican-led Congress, Democrats could be poised to make gains in 2018 — when popular Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow also will be up for re-election.

Whitmer said she is focused on “getting around this state ... to engage with more people from every single part of this state.”

The state Republican Party has criticized Whitmer’s candidacy, calling her a “career politician” and an ally of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Granholm tweeted Tuesday that Whitmer is “a fierce, kick-ass Dem who doesn’t suffer fools, gets things done, and who would be a phenomenal” governor.