If Biden calls on Gretchen Whitmer as vice president, what happens to the Michigan government?


Update: Michigan Gov. Whitmer Not Biden’s Vice President’s Choice But To Speak At Convention

LANSING – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has become a the top candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate, in part because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan and his criticism of President Donald Trump’s federal response.

But Whitmer would have less time to fight COVID-19 at home if she joined Biden on the national campaign, although that is largely virtual this year given the continuing threat to public health. This could mean new and additional responsibilities for Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who would succeed Whitmer if she became vice president.

Over the next three months, Whitmer “would spend most of her time running for vice-president if she was selected, which means that a lot of state business will be done by other people in the world. interim, ”said Matt Grossman, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.

“It’s not completely unusual, but maybe it has more implications now.”


Speculation that Democrat Biden might select Whitmer as his running mate has gained new momentum in recent days following reports that the first-term governor flew to Delaware on August 2 for a face-to-face meeting with the former vice-president.

While Biden is expected to announce his pick this week ahead of the Democratic National Convention, CNN’s Chris Cillizza on Monday ranked Whitmer as the third most likely choice for the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

He put the Lansing Democrat behind only Senator Kamala Harris of California and former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, both of whom are women of color.

“I was very skeptical that in this climate Biden would choose a white woman as vice president,” Cilllizza wrote. “I’m still in that camp, but if he does, it looks like Whitmer will be the choice.”

Vice-presidential candidates almost never resign from their current post unless or until they win the election, so Whitmer would likely remain governor of Michigan even if she stepped down from her daily duties to campaign through the country, in person or virtually.

Vice President Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana when Trump elected him in 2016, and he completed his term before taking office with Trump in 2020. Likewise, Sarah Palin remained Governor of Alaska afterward. that John McCain named her running mate in 2008.

If selected, Whitmer would be the first Michigander to win a major party vice-presidential nomination.

Gerald R. Ford was not vice-chairman until after Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, and he became chairman when Richard Nixon resigned the following year.

Whitmer would likely only step down as governor if she was on the ticket and Biden beat Trump in November. And even then, she could keep the state post until early 2021, when she and Biden would be inaugurated.

As part of a succession plan mandated by the Michigan Constitution, that would make Gilchrist the 50th Governor of Michigan. He had become the first African-American governor in Michigan history and the country’s only current black governor.

Whitmer supporters argue the momentum could dampen some criticism from black voters who are hoping to see Biden pick a woman of color, a possibility he raised for months after promising to select a running mate.

Biden needs black voters, and picking a white woman could send a “ripple through the black community if he doesn’t,” said Jonathan Kinloch, chairman of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party in Detroit.

Still, “Garlin Gilchrist would be a great governor,” he said. “There would certainly be enthusiasm here in the state to have the first black governor and [Whitmer] would have played a very important role in making this happen.

Gilchrist, 37, is a former software engineer and political activist who had never held an elected post before becoming lieutenant governor. He would take control of the state with two years in the No.2 role.

“People who have never held elected office may have more problems when in power, both on the electoral side and the government side,” MSU’s Grossman said. “But getting into an administration that’s already built can be a little easier than doing it from scratch. “

The succession scenario would mark the final stage in a rapid rise for Gilchrist, who lost his candidacy for a Detroit employee in November 2017 before Whitmer selected him as his running mate in August 2018.

Two years later, there is speculation that he may soon succeed Whitmer as governor.

“It’s true,” Gilchrist told Bridge in June, laughing at the possibility while praising Whitmer for being “responsive to the people of Michigan” despite national attention, speculation and Twitter attacks from Trump and his allies. .

“If I’ve learned anything in the last three years of my personal and public life, it’s that anything can happen, but what you can control is how you spend your time and energy, and on what results you choose to focus on, ”Gilchrist said. . “… If anything happens in this regard for Gretchen Whitmer, I am certainly humbly ready to serve the people of Michigan.” “

If Gilchrist were to become governor, he would serve Whitmer’s current term which would last until 2022 – and likely without a lieutenant governor.

Michigan Constitution Lacks Mechanism to Replace Lieutenant Governor Promoted Mid-Term, 1968 Report Says legal opinion of then-Attorney General Frank Kelley.

Kelley considered the matter when the then governor. George Romney was preparing to step down and serve as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard Nixon.

Lt. Gov. William Milliken became governor when Romney resigned in January 1969, and he was re-elected in 1970. While the constitutional office was technically vacant for nearly two years, the Michigan Senate spearheaded special law to appoint the President of the Senate Thomas Schweigert to the post of “Acting Lieutenant Governor” in 1969.

If Gilchrist is promoted to governor, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will be second and act as governor if and when Gilchrist has left the state. Under Michigan’s Constitution, Attorney General Dana Nessel would be elevated to third.

How Whitmer would balance campaign with government amid a pandemic that has killed more than 6,200 Michiganders is “the $ 64,000 question” and could influence Biden’s decision, said Bill Ballenger, a longtime political observer from Michigan.

If she spent too much time campaigning, Republicans could attack her – and the Biden ticket, for abandoning the state in a “moment of peril,” he said.

“The real question is whether she plays as she goes to see what the progression of the disease looks like and how good a practical governor she has to be this fall. It is uncharted territory. We’ve never had this before and there’s no way of knowing how it would be handled.

Whitmer remains relatively popular in Michigan. In a late July poll of 600 likely voters by Lansing’s EPIC-MRA, 57 percent of voters said they thought she was doing a good job, and 42 percent of those polled gave her a negative rating.

Still, it’s unclear whether Whitmer would give Biden a boost in Michigan, a state Trump narrowly won in 2016. Biden already does good polls here – he led Trump 51-40 percent in the recent EPIC-MRA poll – and the research on Home State’s Vice Presidential Effects isn’t very strong, Grossman said.

“If you think COVID is the problem right now, then [Whitmer] would be a choice which helps to highlight this and which contrasts sharply with the president, ”he said.

“The traditional role of a vice presidential candidate is to attack the presidential candidate of the other party. I think she’s been pretty good at it.

Whitmer has repeatedly criticized Trump’s COVID response, but Republicans also say she also has a lot to respond to her coronavirus policy on nursing homes, which account for a third of the state’s deaths.

Governor for two years, Whitmer lacked some of the foreign policy and executive experience of other vice-presidential possibilities.


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