Michigan Gov. Whitmer isn’t Biden’s VP pick but will speak at convention

Speculation that Joe Biden could select Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as his running mate had gained new steam in the past few days following reports the first-term governor had flown to Delaware last weekend for an in-person meeting with the Democratic presidential candidate. (Shutterstock)

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won’t join Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket this fall, but she’s still expected to play an important role in his campaign.

Biden on Tuesday named Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate to help take on Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, ending speculation he could pick Whitmer or other candidates who had been vetted for the role. 

The selection is historic: Harris, who also ran for president and sparred with Biden on race and desegregation busing policy during a June 2019 Democratic debate, will be the first woman of color to secure a major party nomination for vice president. 

Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the governor tweeted congratulations from her personal account: “I am extraordinarily proud to support @KamalaHarris and @JoeBiden! They will be a fierce team to Build America Back Better. #WeHaveHerBack.”

Whitmer will have a prime-time speaking slot at next week’s Democratic National Convention, a four-day event that will be fully virtual given the coronavirus pandemic. 

She is set to speak during the Monday night program, which the DNC says will feature “Americans who are rising up to take on” COVID-19, economic turmoil and racial injustice. The opening night will be bookended by addresses from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Former President Bill Clinton and Former Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden will headline Tuesday night, followed by former President Barack Obama on Wednesday.  Biden, who served as vice president under Obama, will address Democrats on Thursday night and formally accept the party’s presidential nomination.

If Biden wins,  he could still tap Whitmer for another job in his administration. But even if she stays put in Michigan, the process was good for her, said Adrian Hemond, a Democratic strategist with Grassroots Midwest in Lansing.

“Gretchen Whitmer certainly had her national profile raised, in large part because of the vice presidential chatter and vetting process, which is going to be great for her fundraising for re-election [as governor] and if she decides to run for U.S. Senate when [current Democratic Sen.] Debbie Stabenow is done,” Hemond said.

Michigan Republican Party chair Laura Cox, who has criticized the governor for keeping a vigorous national media schedule amid the pandemic, said Biden’s pick “is confirmation of what every Michigander already knew: Gretchen Whitmer just isn’t ready for the big leagues.”

Whitmer developed a close relationship with Biden this year and will likely play a prominent role in his campaign here this fall, especially if the polls tighten in a state Trump won by 10,704 votes in 2016. When she formally endorsed Biden ahead of Michigan’s March primary, the former vice president named Whitmer as a chairperson to his national campaign.

Speculation that Biden could pick Whitmer as his running mate reached a fevered pitch on Saturday after The Associated Press confirmed she had flown to Delaware to meet with the former vice president the prior weekend. 

But the possibility of a Whitmer pick sparked backlash from African-American leaders — including several in Michigan — who expected Biden to pick a woman of color after hinting at that prospect for months. Harris is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants.

Whitmer was not “vetted in the way” Black contenders were, “nor does she compare in qualifications,” Pamela Pugh, vice president of the State Board of Education, wrote in a Sunday op-ed for Black Star News. 

“We should all be reminded that in 2016, with 94 percent of Black women voting for Hillary Clinton and 53 percent of White women voting for Donald Trump, we were the Democrats’ strongest voting bloc.”

Whitmer has already been playing an active role in state campaigns as she seeks to help Democrats retake the Michigan House, where Republicans currently hold a five-seat edge.

Building Bridges, a political action committee tied to the governor, has already given more than $200,000 to the House Democratic fund and individual state House candidates this cycle.

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Tue, 08/11/2020 - 6:31pm

Whitmer for Health and Human Services!

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 6:37pm

Joe, great choice!

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 9:26am

Just wait for Trump to resurrect his birther conspiracy!

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 6:40pm

White man, African Asian American woman, coup de grace!

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 6:45pm

Nothing wrong with that, it's always a pleasure to hear Whitmer speak. Maybe Trump will replace Pence with Omarosa Manigault, Candace Owens or someone else completely devoid of experience just to boost his "ratings".

Kevin Grand
Tue, 08/11/2020 - 7:11pm


The DNC certainly weighed the numbers on this one.

Oakland County Mom
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 5:12am

Trump already called her "nasty" and said she's against fracking. Biden Harris 2020!

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 5:15am

Sarah Palin is giving Kamala Harris VP advice.

Looking Good!
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 5:39am

Relatable patriotic nice Catholic white guy who unites

Daughter of immigrants
Black, Caribbean, Baptist
Asian, Indian, Hindu
Attended HBCU
Husband Jewish
Mother eminent scientist cancer researcher
Father eminent economist

Greedy self-serving divider, incompetent, sacrilegious, xenophobic, racist, misogynist, KKK-loving trust baby with small hands.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 2:13pm

You forgot Trump orange and bonespurs.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 2:16pm

Harris is also the perfect age to counter Biden's age. We could have 16 years of Dems in the White House. That would be awesome.

Jake K.
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 9:14am

Crap. I was so hoping that Whitmer and her liberal entourage would be vacating the state of Michigan.

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 5:02am

By "entourage", I take it you mean her cohort of office-holders that were elected state-wide, the people working hard everyday for their constituents, We the People, not the whiny Do-Nothing GOP legislature.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 9:51am

Bad news is we're stuck with this clown for another few years.

Good news is we don't have to worry about the chaos that would result from Gilchrist ascending to the governorship.

All set
Thu, 08/13/2020 - 9:40pm

Misogyny: check
Racism: check

Trump's choice!
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:42am

Trump called Harris the “meanest” and “most horrible” senator when asked about her joining the Joe Biden ticket on Tuesday. Trump says Harris is "the kind of opponent everyone dreams of". Yet he gave donations of $5,000 on Sept. 26, 2011, and $1,000 on Feb. 20, 2013, to Harris’s re-election campaign for California attorney general, according to state campaign finance records. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, also gave $2,000 to Harris on June 3, 2014, campaign finance records show.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:26pm

All these dems beg for money it is all they know.

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 9:41pm

Funny thing is, your guy Trump gives it to them!

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 3:20pm

I don't believe Biden had anything to do with the VP pick. It was dictated by the DNC. Just like the run-up to the various primaries. Biden, who didn't do so good in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states, suddenly has everyone drop out so he "captures" the nomination by default. Now for the real shocker - Biden is only in it to win the election. If he wins in November, he will not be inaugurated in January. For some strange reason, he will drop out and Harris will ascend to the presidency. And if that doesn't come to be, then the powers that be will invoke the 25th amendment within 2 months of a Biden presidency and again, Harris will ascend. I hope I'm wrong and all this will never take place, because Trump and Pence will be enjoying 4 more years.

I call BS
Thu, 08/13/2020 - 5:06am

Arjay seems to be drinking the Q-ade!

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 10:39am

Oh, please let it be so, Arjay.

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 9:43pm


Thu, 08/13/2020 - 11:11am

Sounds like DNC voodoo dolls and Qanon deep state conspiracies! Get a life! All that BS is complete nonsense.

Trump for president
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:24pm

Ha ha ha ha ha, Biden said, he was looking for someone intelligent... whitner in rear view mirror . Chameleon the winner oh wait, did I pick VP. I thought this piece of paper you gave me was for a sandwich. Oh Joe forgot where he was going hahahha. If all this wasn`t so scary it would make the funniest SL skit ever. God please help us!

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 9:16am

Right, because Trump bragging about "acing" a simple, one-page cognitive test designed to detect Alzheimer's or dementia is much better.

"I have a very good brain"
" I went to the best schools, I'm, like, a very smart person.