Best of Bridge Michigan: Top political stories of 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endured a year of protests, heated language and social media threats that culminated in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap her. (Bridge file photo)

This week, Bridge Michigan is revisiting some of its most impactful stories from 2020, a year like few others. Today, we examine our top articles about politics and government.

In a year shaped by the coronavirus, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spent months battling with Republicans over a lockdown intended to slow the spread of the pandemic — and things often got very ugly.


From armed protesters to an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, tensions were high all year and remained so after the presidential election, when President Trump refused to concede defeat and blamed a global fraud conspiracy centered in Michigan.

In a dizzying political year, here are some of the top stories. In the coming days, we will revisit the articles about the environment, social justice, education and business.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s year: Nooses, beheadings and shouts of tyranny

The alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer and storm the Michigan Capitol with 200 armed militia members followed months of provocative, sometimes violent rhetoric against the governor, who imposed a long list of pandemic-related executive orders last spring to try to limit the spread of the virus.Ron French

Inside Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus fight: We know we saved lives

Whitmer’s restrictions to slow the pandemic thrust her into the national spotlight, propelled her to the vice presidential shortlist of Democrat Joe Biden, provoked a yearlong war of words with President Trump and sparked a court battle with Republicans. Through it all, she won praise for managing the pandemic, but also criticism that she shut out Republicans from the process and was overly restrictive on vulnerable businesses.  Jonathan Oosting

Meet the Trump-loving group behind protest of Gov. Whitmer’s stay-home order

Many of the Republican activists who protested Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions became the biggest proponents later in the year of conspiracy theories claiming that widespread fraud denied Trump victory in Michigan. This April profile traced how Trump gave fringe Republicans a “modicum of credibility” and a podium some are now using to try to wrest control of the state Republican Party. Jonathan Oosting

For some Michigan sheriffs, Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus orders are optional

As Whitmer shut down the state because of COVID-19, a band of conservative sheriffs stood in defiance. Drawing authority from the right-wing “constitutional sheriff” movement, a Republican sheriff in west Michigan likened Whitmer’s order to mass arrest. They are the final word, they insisted ─ not the governor or federal government ─ on interpreting the constitution within their county.  — Ted Roelofs

Michigan Dems prep for doomsday scenario: What if Trump loses, won’t concede?

In late October, it seemed like a longshot, doomsday scenario: A president who refuses to concede and pressures states legislators to overturn election results. Bridge Michigan broke down the possibility well before the exact scenario would play out after the Nov. 3 general election.  — Jonathan Oosting

Weeks after vote, 13 fake fraud claims persist in Michigan. Here’s the truth

President Donald Trump and his supporters spent weeks spreading falsehoods about election fraud — and Bridge Michigan spent weeks fact-checking the most pervasive conspiracy theories and claims of fraud to set the record straight. Madeline Halpert

Michigan militias, far-right groups recast themselves as mainstream 

From armed protests in the state Capitol to protests at officeholders’ homes, resistance to Gov. Whitmer often had a militaristic edge. In this September profile, militia leaders vowed that, after being marginalized, they were finally “starting to realize we have an important role in the public eye.” Just weeks later, men with militia ties were arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap Whitmer. Jonathan Oosting

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Tue, 12/29/2020 - 8:44am

My best story would be "those women from Michigan". They're strong, smart, independent women who won't take crap from anybody. They're every white male Republican's worst nightmare! We love our Michigan women!

White male repu...
Fri, 01/01/2021 - 9:50am

My race, sex, or political affiliation have nothing to do with why I believe those “women from Michigan” have been nothing but terrible for the state.

They forced businesses to close, they changed voting laws illegally, and threatened to sue people who disagree with their narrative. They were hypocrites, liars, partisans, and ultimately destroyed liberty in the state.

So yeah, they are a nightmare.

Sat, 01/02/2021 - 4:16pm

You sound like a person who could care less about the health and welfare of your fellow human beings. The virus probably didn't have anything to do with your business going down the crapper. Your attitude and lack of empathy will probably limit your business success.

Charlotte Morton
Sun, 01/03/2021 - 2:29pm

I guess you must believe in Herd Immunity like 45, which scientifically and medically is the nightmare we lived through this past 9 months. The only thing that saved many lives is what these "Women from Michigan" did. And there were no laws broken in changing the voting laws. I know you have no proof. Many states went to mail in voting because of the pandemic, then Trump tried to disable the post office, take away ballot boxes and try to disenfranchise many minority voters because he knew he had to, to have a chance to win. If that isn't destroying our liberty, what the hell is? Republicans are losing, they have to Gerrymander districts and try to take away voting rights of those who won't vote for them. Yeah, you and your cult are a nightmare.

Charlotte Morton
Sun, 01/03/2021 - 2:20pm

I especially love this story. And recently Nessel replied to one of Trump's many rants about them, she said, he didn't have to worry because he isn't their type.

Wed, 12/30/2020 - 2:43pm

Thank you to Bridge and its staff for the opportunity for readers to share their views on topics Bridge had identified. Since the inception of Bridge it has been so valuable to hear the diversity of perception the readers have offered, they have been thought provoking, and creating value I haven't found in the rest of the news media for years.
Bridge has for several years offer articles that became topics of sharing, of good conversation, and many times a place where passions were even allowed to be vented.
Bridge has been a place where readers could see a bit around that next corner, hear what they might not hear from their neighbors and from residents across Michigan.
What was best to me was when readers shared their thinking behind what was said [something that seldom happened in the articles themselves from the people being interviewed].
The most disappointing article was the one that was never written. It was one about how Bridge and its staff had a conversation with the readers, asking about what they wanted to learn about, what added information they hoped would be reported on, what ideas readers had for addressing problems kept being posted, and what Bridge learned from their readers.
An important thing I learned in my career in manufacturing was to engage those you serve, ask them what was valuable to their success and listen to their answers. I hope Bridge will consider this idea so they will find ways to improve Bridge and make it sustainable.
Good Luck to Bridge and the whole of the staff for the new year.

Fri, 01/01/2021 - 9:47am

This website turned hard left when the kids started to take over. It’s why I stopped sponsoring it. Get back in the center. Report news.

Sat, 01/02/2021 - 3:48pm

Out with the old, and in with the new. These "kids" will be running things soon, and that day can't come soon enough!