As 2020 election looms, Whitmer to give Dems’ Trump SOTU response

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her first State of the State address | Casey Hull

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been chosen for a sought-after national role, giving the Democrats’ official response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

President Donald Trump rally in Battle Creek, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Michigan is expected to play a key role in the 2020 presidential election. Trump flipped the state in 2016, winning by a narrow, 10,704-vote margin. Democrats and progressive groups have been doing a huge organizing push in the three Upper Midwest states he won — Michigan, Wisconisin and Pennsylvania. The Democratic National Convention is to be held in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Whitmer, who was elected in 2018 amid the Democrats’ sweep of all top statewide offices, is has attracted national attention. Her name has been floated as a vice presidential pick for the Democratic presidential nominee, although Whitmer has twice told the Advance she isn’t interested, most recently in May.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Friday morning announced Whitmer’s role, which is typically reserved for rising stars in the opposition party. U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) will deliver the Spanish language response to the speech.

“Governor Whitmer’s dedication to Michiganders is a model for public servants everywhere. Thanks to her tireless efforts, thousands more families across the state have access to quality health care, safer drinking water and the opportunity for a good-paying job,” said Schumer. “Whether it’s pledging to ‘Fix the Damn Roads’ or investing in climate solutions, Governor Whitmer’s vision for the future is exactly what this country needs, and I’m thrilled she is giving the Democratic response.”

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Pelosi also emphasized Democratic priorities in the 2020 election, such as expanding health care and cleaning up drinking water.

“Since day one, Governor Whitmer has rolled up her sleeves to get things done for the people of Michigan,” said Pelosi. “During her time in public service, she has led the charge to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of people, expand protections for hard-working middle-class families and ensure clean drinking water in our communities.  Her decades of hard work on behalf of the people should serve as a model for our nation. She’s a forward-looking leader who is laser-focused on solving problems for everyday Michiganders and is uniquely qualified to deliver Democrats’ message of progress for all Americans.”

Whitmer is slated to giver her State of the State address Wednesday* at the Michigan Capitol.

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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.