Michigan Makes Mark on Democratic National Convention

Michigan Democrats are playing a significant role in the party’s national convention. But some regret Michigan Gov. Whitmer is not the Vice Presidential candidate. Other Democrats say the battleground state could swing for either Joe Biden or President Trump.

It’s a different convention than the smoke-filled rooms of decades past.

Speakers are delivering remarks virtually because of the coronavirus.

That included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who used a union hall as a backdrop to discuss the state’s response to the pandemic and how it differed from the President’s approach.

Whitmer was on the short-list of Democratic vice presidential candidates.


“I have to say I had some dreams about what it would look and feel like to have our terrific governor as the vice presidential nominee, the attention that it would have brought to this state.” – Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes


And Michigan Democratic Chair Lavora Barnes says she’s still somewhat wistful that Whitmer did not make the cut.

“I have to say I had some dreams about what it would look and feel like to have our terrific governor as the vice presidential nominee, the attention that it would have brought to this state,” Barnes said.

But Barnes hastens to add that she believes Democrats are excited about Kamala Harris joining presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s bid for the White House.

She predicts the pairing will drive a substantial voter turn-out in Michigan.  

And it’s not just Whitmer leaving Michigan’s mark on the convention.

State Rep. Mari Manoogian of Birmingham is one of 17 delivering a joint keynote address.

And a union worker from the state is also set to provide remarks.

Barnes says the state has almost 150 convention delegates “attending” virtually.

She says the event will still fire-up voters, even without cheering crowds present, because most people typically watch the convention on TV anyway.

“So it hasn’t really changed that much. What they aren’t going to see is a large crowd of thousands from all over the country in one room,” Barnes said.

“And I think everyone watching understands why they’re not seeing that large crowd of thousands and is grateful to us for not doing it, for not bringing folks together from all over the country in an unsafe, unhealthy way and then sending them back home.”

Some Democrats say the week-long event must be more than just a way to anoint presumptive nominee Joe Biden.

President Trump is counter-punching during the convention with his own campaign events.

Biden leads President Trump in many polls, both nationally and in Michigan.


“Many workers are concerned about child care. People are worried about the schools. And President Trump has not dealt with it…he’s tried to squelch this from the beginning.” — Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell


But Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-12) remember how pollsters showed Hillary Clinton with a similar lead four years ago.

Dingell says she sees plenty of Trump signs in her district.

She predicts the battleground state could still swing either way.

Dingell says the convention is the time to start making the case in earnest that Democrats would do a better job of helping what she calls “working men and women” in Michigan.

Even, she says, if that case has to be made by mainly connecting with voters virtually.


Click on the audio link above to hear the full interviews with Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.