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Best of Bridge Michigan: Top political stories of 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer served as co-chair of President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 but now is distancing herself from his vaccine mandate.

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

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