Whitmer, Greig, Stevens net national attention as Dems contend with 2020 politics

Gretchen Whitmer (top), Haley Stevens (left) and Christine Greig (right) | Whitmer photo by Casey Hull

Democrats made big moves in Michigan in the 2018 election and national publications this week took notice of three female leaders: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) and U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester).

Susan J. Demas graphic

The stories also noted Greig’s and Stevens’ struggles ahead of the 2020 election and Whitmer’s battles with the GOP.

It’s all in the Advance‘s periodic roundup of Michigan in the national news.

Looking to state races

First up is Greig, who gets a key billing in an Atlantic story looking at the Brooklyn-based Future Now Fund, a progressive group that’s keeping its focus on state races, even as all eyes turn to the presidency in 2020.

Greig credited the group’s spending for Democrats flipping a net five seats in the state House in 2018, bringing it to a 58-52 split, “putting control of the chamber in reach for Democrats in 2020.”

House Minority Leader Christine Greig speaking at the Planned Parenthood summit, April 16, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

Although author Russell Berman notes that “Michigan is one of the states where Democrats began to claw back power in 2018,” he also goes through the state’s electoral history and pitfalls of the Dems:

From 1992 to 2012, Michigan voted Democratic in the presidential race for six consecutive elections, giving it the appearance of a blue state before Clinton famously let its 16 electoral votes slip away to Trump in the closing days of the 2016 campaign. But the state government had fallen to Republicans six years earlier: The GOP had recaptured both the governor’s office and the state House from Democrats, and it had extended its majority in the state Senate to a supermajority. The victories allowed Republicans not only to enact conservative policies, but also to control the redistricting process after the 2010 census, which helped lock in their gains at the legislative level for the next decade.

“We were not paying attention to what was going on right underneath our noses,” Greig told me.

The Michigan story was replicated all over the country on Election Night 2010, which Democratic operatives now identify as every bit the historical inflection point that Trump’s victory was in 2016.

The 2010 red wave is described as a “bloodbath,” punctuated by Republicans controlling the redistricting process in Michigan and other critical states. The Future Now Fund wants to keep working toward down-ballot Democratic victories next year, although several other groups are back to focusing on Congress and the presidency.

Whitmer’s gas tax

The Washington Post takes a look at Democratic governors across the country reversing the policies of their GOP predecessors. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 45-cent gas tax hike proposal — which the Post editorial board previously endorsed, calling it a national “model” — is mentioned.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Clawson, March 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Writer Tim Craig writes Whitmer says roads “were neglected by her predecessor, Republican Rick Snyder.” The Post notes that Republicans, however, “have signaled that they are unlikely to support Whitmer’s ambitious gas-tax proposal.”

The redacted Mueller report

Reuters flags the fact that 30 new Democratic members of Congress won districts that now-President Donald Trump did in 2016.

In light of that, House members like Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) are “treading carefully” on the redacted report issued last week on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian election interference investigation.

Stevens told reporter Joseph Ax that “many Democrats were elected because ‘voters want checks and balances and a return to good government and government we can trust.’

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) (left) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), January 03, 2019 | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“Still, speaking after a town hall on Thursday evening, the 35-year-old emphasized that most voters going into 2020 are more concerned about issues such as health care, education and infrastructure,” he writes.

Ax also interviewed a constituent of Stevens in her 11th District seat spanning Oakland and Wayne counties. Joy Marie Zug is one of those voters who flipped from former President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016, but she said she “has since soured on Trump due to his ‘lies.'”

Zug believes Democrats “should consider impeachment, based on the mountain of evidence in the Mueller report.”

Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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