Breaking: Gilchrist joins Whitmer in endorsing Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (right)
Updated, 11:19 a.m., 3/6/20

One day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president on national television, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist followed suit Friday morning.

“I am proud to endorse* Joe Biden for president, because the vice president has been a friend to entire state of Michigan, especially the city of Detroit,” Gilchrist said on CNN.

Gilchrist said he believes the “momentum is building” for Biden, noting his strength with Black voters.

Like Whitmer had in a February interview, Gilchrist had told the Advance last week that he didn’t plan to endorse before Michigan’s presidential primary on Tuesday — although he did say, “I would never say never.”

But the race has changed significantly since then, with a number of candidates dropping out after Biden’s rout in the South Carolina primary. And on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also left the race, leaving only Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) standing.

Whitmer: I know what it’s like to be ‘written off’ like Biden

The endorsement of Gilchrist, Michigan’s first African-American lieutenant governor, is significant, as the former President Barack Obama organizer voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary.

When asked why he voted for Sanders four years ago, Gilchrist said, “I thought it was well-organized and the community organizer in me appreciated the way that it engaged, and so that’s why I chose to support him in the primary,” the lieutenant governor said. “And then was enthusiastic about my support for Secretary Clinton in the general [election].”

As for the 2020 primary, Gilchrist said last week he expected candidates to “engage more deeply” with Midwest voters.

“I have had the pleasure of speaking with almost all the candidates, invited them to know some of my thoughts about what they need to do in Michigan and across the Midwest and across the country. And so, I expect them to engage more deeply. I know that we are a post-Super Tuesday state and that has meant that most candidates spend more time in other places. Hopefully, we can do something about that primary date going into 2024,” he said.

Garlin Gilchrist after the second debate | Andrew Roth

In an interview with the Advance on Thursday, Whitmer said that she’s “been watching this presidential race for the better part of the last year and a few months. I’m always focused on the dinner-table issues,” she said. “And I think that showing up and showing that you can get things done … When the chips were down with the auto industry, it was [President] Barack Obama and Joe Biden that had our back.”

Other Michigan political figures who have rallied to the Biden cause this week include former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (R-Rochester Hills), U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) and former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

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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.