What We're Thinking

February 6, 2020

Ryan Dalton

Director of State Affairs
BGR Government Relations

Why Governor Whitmer was the Smart Choice for Dems’ 2020 SOTU Response

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s last State of the Union before the 2020 election in November.  On the surface, the choice seems obvious: Governor Whitmer won Michigan by 10 points, a state Trump won in 2016 and a must win for Democrats in 2020; Governor Whitmer is part of the next generation of future leaders within the party; and the Governor has already built a strong track record that has made her popular with constituents.  But she’s also the Democrats’ ideal messenger in a year where their success hinges on winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

These states share a lot in common both demographically and politically. President Trump notably carried all three of these states in 2016, and today, all three are governed by Democratic Governors and Republican-controlled legislatures. Winning these three states in November will require a practical, center-left set of priorities, like affordable healthcare, investing in infrastructure, strengthening the economy and leaving behind something better for the next generation – the issues that Democrats proactively and successfully ran on in the 2018 midterm elections.

In one regard, Governor Whitmer introduced herself last night as the new face of the Democratic party’s future — a successful leader who has delivered results at home while inspiring people across the country as one of the most visible women elected to executive positions in 2018. In another, Governor Whitmer’s straight-talk, pragmatic message and focus on kitchen table issues is exactly what continues to reliably appeal to voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. This is a winning combination that demonstrates where Democrats want to put their focus and drive contrasts in 2020. 

In her SOTU response she summed it up perfectly: “It doesn’t matter what the president says about the stock market.  What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for: transportation, student loans or prescription drugs.  American workers are hurting.  In my own state.  Our neighbors in Wisconsin.  And Ohio.  And Pennsylvania.  All over the country.  Wages have stagnated, while CEO pay has skyrocketed.”

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