Mallory McMorrow’s response to accusations of ‘grooming’ children propels state senator to national spotlight

Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) forcefully pushed back on the accusations made by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) on the Senate floor. The video has garnered over 13 million views on Twitter.


Earlier this week, Republican State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) sent a fundraising email that accused her Senate colleague Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) of wanting to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.”

McMorrow’s response in a 5-minute speech on the Senate floor has since gone viral — with over 13 million views on Twitter alone.

WDET’s Russ McNamara spoke with McMorrow by getting some things on the record quickly.

Are you trying to groom or sexualize children?


Have you received an apology from Sen. Theis?


Have you heard from your Republican colleagues about this?

Not one.

Reporters in Lansing were told that no comment will be coming from Senate Republican leadership on Wednesday about Senator Theis’ comments. We’ve talked before about the mood, the spirit of working together in Lansing. Does something like this, like these unfounded accusations, kill political, bipartisan discourse?

I have introduced over 40 pieces of legislation over past four years, and they have given me a hearing on not one, not one bill has received a hearing or passed into law. So I wish we had a lot more bipartisanship than we have. But I haven’t seen any.

Democrats have the reputation for not pushing back against wild accusations and letting Republicans control the narrative at times. Michelle Obama famously said “When they go low, we go high.” Do you think that your speech and the response that it’s garnered nationally, is a step toward changing that perception?

I think that it is sticking to a we go high, but we also call hate when we see it. We can do both simultaneously, we can walk and chew gum, and there’s a lot of marginalized people who need us to do that.

Republicans have spent the past 40 years catering to fundamentalist Christians. You spent part of your speech on your status as a Christian mother, how has your faith guided you?

It has been so disgusting to me to see Christianity weaponized as a tool for hatred, targeting and marginalization because that is not what faith and service means. I grew up in a religious family. My mom, as I said in the speech, taught me that it was about service, she took me to soup kitchens, and she was punished for it. And she reminded me that our priest actually charged her $70 for taking me to a soup kitchen out of the Diocese. And that is why we changed what that meant. We spent more time doing service and being a part of a community and giving back than just performative nonsense.

Do you think we’ll see a continuation of that performative nonsense? Are we just getting started in a year where the Supreme Court could overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent? Plus, the governor, attorney general, secretary of state are all up for grabs?

Yes, I do. You know, I think that it is. It’s funny that Republicans always hit back on Democrats for identity politics, but they’re always trying to define themselves as the party that is in line with religious values and teachings and whether you’re religious or not, I think everybody with good morals believe that you are a part of something larger and that it’s your responsibility to leave it better than you found it. It’s that simple. And we’re going to see it get a lot worse and Democrats have to be aggressive about taking some ownership back of what service and faith whatever that means to you, means to us.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.