LANSING, MICH. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday vowed to “hit the ground running” and focus on the state’s economic fortunes in her second term, but also celebrated statewide offices held by Democrats and apparent voter support for the party’s strong support for abortion rights and expansion of voting.
“In the next four years, I’m asking you to believe in Michigan. To work with us and believe in our state. If we do that, I know there’s nothing we can’t do,” Whitmer said this morning. Wednesday in Detroit. “I’m not going to make any predictions for the next four years, but I can promise you this: we’re going to make Michigan a place where you can envision your future.”
Republican challenger Tudor Dixon said in a statement that he invited Whitmer to drop out of the battleground state’s gubernatorial race.
While Michigan is reeling from some of the nation’s toughest COVID policies, Whitmer said in his victory speech that he will continue to work to bring auto jobs back to the state and help small businesses recover. He vowed to “continue to fight like hell to protect fundamental rights as they are under attack across the country.”
Whitmer was first elected to the House in 2018 after several years and has since become a leading voice of the Democratic Party, leading the party’s response to former President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address. He said in interviews that he will not run for office. for the presidency in 2024 even if President Joe Biden does not seek re-election.
Whitmer led a statewide Democratic ticket that focused its campaigns on abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Whitmer filed numerous lawsuits in state courts to overturn the 1931 law banning the validity of abortions.
Whitmer also delivered a message of bipartisanship and unity Wednesday morning, saying he would be a governor “for all of Michigan” and work “with anybody who wants to get things done.”
While Michigan is coming back from some of the toughest COVID policies in the country, Whitmer said priorities in his second term include bringing auto jobs back to the state and helping small businesses.
“January 1 is less than 60 days away, and I am committed to holding a productive meeting by the end of this year. And then we hit the ground running for the second period,” Whitmer said.
Dixon, who was endorsed by Trump, was a former political commentator and horror movie actress who struggled to compete with Whitmer’s multimillion-dollar campaign fund until the end of the campaign.
Whitmer spent millions of dollars on a campaign slamming Dixon for being too “extreme” on abortion, which went unanswered for months as his Republican opponent struggled to raise funds. Dixon opposes this procedure in all circumstances except to save the mother’s life.
The Democrat also supported a Michigan ballot measure seeking to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and a 1931 law passed after Roe v. Wade that criminalized abortion. Michigan Democrats hope the proposal will lead to high voter turnout across the state and give the party key wins in congressional and state legislative races.
Although the months seemed one-sided, increased funding from national Republicans and debate shows have helped boost Dixon’s name recognition in a state that had a GOP governor just four years ago.
The economy was the top issue on the minds of Michigan voters, with nearly half saying it was the nation’s most pressing issue, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast poll.
Nearly all voters in the state said higher prices for gas, groceries and other goods were a factor in their vote, with half citing it as the most important factor. And among voters who said inflation was an issue in how they voted, nearly half cited rising food and grocery prices as the most important factor.
Price increases are personal, and nearly a third of Michigan voters say their family is falling behind financially. These voters were more likely to vote for Dixon.
At the same time, about 6 out of 10 voters say that their family’s financial situation is stable. These voters were more likely to vote for Whitmer.
The outcome of the November race outside of Michigan, the battleground for the presidential election, is significant. The winner of the 2024 contest will be in office and can influence voting laws and the way the election is conducted. Trump, Biden and former President Barack Obama have all traveled to the state in recent weeks to support their party’s candidates.
Follow AP’s election coverage here: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections
Visit https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections
Foody reported from Chicago. AP reporter Amanda Seitz in Washington, DC contributed to this story.
Joey Cappelletti is an Associated Press/Reporting staff member for America’s Statehouse News Initiative. Reporting for America is a national nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues.