Gretchen Whitmer, the current governor of Michigan, was sworn in for a second term as the state’s 49th governor on Sunday. During her remarks on the steps of the state Capitol, she pushed a message of unity and working together during a time when Democrats took full control of the state government for the first time in forty years.
Whitmer, who was first elected in 2018 after serving as a state lawmaker for 14 years, won reelection in November by defeating the Republican candidate Tudor Dixon by a margin of roughly 11 percentage points. Whitmer was first elected in 2018, and has served as a state lawmaker for 14 years. On Sunday, she was joined by a number of other prominent Democratic leaders, including Jocelyn Benson, who was just reelected as Secretary of State, Dana Nessel, the Attorney General, and Garlin Gilchrist II, who is the Lt. Governor.
During her inaugural address, Whitmer vowed to work toward “common sense” gun reform, to continue investing in K-12 education, to improve worker rights, to lower taxes for the state’s retirees, and to combat climate change. She added that she would provide more specifics regarding these pledges during her upcoming address on the state of the state.
Whitmer addressed the crowd of around 1,000 people present and told them that their mission for the next four years will be to “guarantee that every Michigander, both now and in the future, can prosper.” “And the message we want to convey is straightforward: We want the rest of the world to know that your future is right here in Michigan.”
Whitmer faces the challenge of delivering on years of promises in Michigan, a swing state where Democrats must appeal to more than just their base or risk losing their majorities in the Legislature when it is up for grabs again in two years. With a newly powerful Democratic caucus, she is better positioned than ever to do so.
During her remarks, Whitmer thanked a number of Republican legislative leaders and pledged to work with “anyone who wants to solve problems and get things done.” She also acknowledged a number of Republican legislative leaders. After the inauguration, the newly elected Republican leader of the state Senate, Aric Nesbitt, thanked Whitmer and added in a statement that he hopes she “really follows through on her repeated promises of bipartisanship.”
The inauguration ceremony takes place just a few days after two men were found guilty of leading a plot to abduct Whitmer in 2020 prior to the presidential election and were sentenced to hefty federal prison sentences as a result of their involvement in the scheme. Prior to this, Whitmer has pointed the finger of responsibility at Republican leaders, accusing them of inciting violent language and making light of the conspiracy to abduct and kill her.
After securing narrow majorities and flipping both chambers of the state legislature in November’s election, Democrats in Michigan officially assumed control of both the state House and Senate at noon on Sunday.
During their respective addresses, the newly elected Democratic leaders in the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks and House Speaker Joe Tata, echoed the governor’s emphasis on the significance of working together with members of the opposing party.
“A stunning opportunity stands before us to work together like never before across legislative chambers and alongside the executive branch,” said Brinks, who was chosen to be the Senate’s first female majority leader in December. “A stunning opportunity stands before us to work together like never before across legislative chambers and alongside the executive branch.”
It is mandatory that the new legislative session get underway on the second Wednesday of the month of January. As lawmakers head into the new year with a roughly $6 billion surplus in their coffers, the state budget will be one of the top topics for them to address.
Kyra Harris Bolden, a former state representative, was sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the state’s Supreme Court on Sunday. Governor Whitmer appointed the former state representative in November to replace Justice Bridget McCormack, who was retiring from the court. This event also marked a first in the state’s history. Additionally, Whitmer’s oath of office was delivered by Bolden.
The final paragraph of this piece has been updated to reflect the fact that Kyra Harris Bolden served as a state representative, not a state senator. A previous version of this article had an error in which it stated that Governor Gretchen Whitmer became the first female governor when she was elected in 2018.
Joey Cappelletti is a member of the Associated Press and Report for America’s Statehouse News Initiative’s corps of correspondents. Report for America is a nationwide service program that is run by a non-profit organization and places journalists in local newsrooms so that they can report on topics that are not widely covered.
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