What Does Granholm’s Tenure as Governor Tell Us About Qualifications for Energy Secretary?

Granholm’s potential appointment to energy secretary has instigated a reexamination of her tenure as Michigan Governor.

As President-elect Joe Biden continues to roll out his cabinet picks, this week brought some big news for Michiganders. Biden has nominated former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as his choice to run the energy department.

“One thing you could definitely say is she was ahead of the curve on clean energy when it comes to policies around the country.” — Zach Gorchow, Gongwer

Her relationship with the auto industry is seen as one of her biggest qualifications for the job. But Granholm, who served through an economic and political mess here in Michigan, has a complicated legacy as governor which still divides Michiganders.

Listen: Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm tapped for energy secretary.


Zach Gorchow is the executive editor and publisher at Gongwer news service in Lansing. He says Granholm has been eyeing the role of energy secretary for quite some time now, pushing to be a part of the Obama administration and prospective Clinton administration in 2016. Her foresight on renewable energy is a big part of her consideration for the position.

“One thing you could definitely say is she was ahead of the curve on clean energy when it comes to policies around the country,” Gorchow tells Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today.

Granholm detractors point to the economic instability that marked her tenure as governor as disqualifying for energy secretary job. Gorchow says this critique isn’t fair.

“I’ve always thought that laying the economic calamity that was that decade and starting before (Granholm’s) tenure as governor… the auto industry, the bill came due for structural problems and structural issues in the economy,” says Gorchow. “Does that mean her tenure as governor was an unequivocal success? No.” Gorchow highlights Granholm’s struggle to collaborate with the state Legislature as a spot on her record as governor.

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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.
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    Clare Brennan works with the production team on “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” and helped produce Season Three of the podcast series “Created Equal.”