Whitmer on Schuette: ‘I’m Not Going to Get Distracted by His Superficial, Sexist Barbs’

Joan Isabella/WDET

Gretchen Whitmer

Democratic nominee for governor Gretchen Whitmer is calling out her GOP opponent Bill Schuette for what she calls “superficial, sexist barbs.”

Whitmer and her new running mate, Garlin Gilchrist II, joined Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson Tuesday morning to talk about their ticket and the course they hope to set heading into the November election.

Henderson asked Whitmer about GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Schuette’s persistent criticism comparing her to former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and whether she considers the tone of those attacks sexist.

Bill Schuette seems to have some kind of sick obsession with Jennifer Granholm and that’s all he seems to talk about,” said Whitmer. “I’m not running for governor to defend anyone else’s record.”

I’m not going to get distracted by his superficial, sexist barbs,” she continued.

On Monday, Whitmer announced she had selected Gilchrist, a native Detroiter, to be her running mate and choice for lieutenant governor.

Cheyna Roth/MPRN

Gretchen Whitmer (right) and Garlin Gilchrist (left)

Gilchrist worked in Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration as Detroit’s director of Innovation and Emerging Technology, was the National campaign director for MoveOn.org from 2011-2014, narrowly lost a bid to be Detroit city clerk to incumbent Janice Winfrey, and is currently director of the University of Michigan’s new Center for Social Media Responsibility. He also managed Barack Obama’s social media during his historic and successful run for president in 2008.

Gilchrist said he wants to bring Michigan’s state government systems “into the 21st Century” by using better, more user-friendly technology to help service residents.

I have experience building systems that work for people,” said Gilchrist, who said he would offer ”new ideas and fresh energy” to the executive branch and to Lansing.

Henderson also asks Whitmer to address speculation that Gilchrist was chosen — at least partially — because he could help drive Democratic turnout in the city of Detroit, where Whitmer got fewer votes than her opponent Shri Thanedar in the primary election.

While we’ve got a robust effort in Detroit, we’re going to keep working to grow that,” she said.

Garlin and I are going to spend a lot of time in communities across Michigan partnering with people like Mike Duggan who needs a partner in the governor’s office and who has been a phenomenal advisor and supporter of mine, and I’m going to be a great partner to him,” said Whitmer. “But (where) we win this race is in the streets.”

Henderson also speaks with Crain’s Detroit Business Senior Reporter Chad Livengood about the Gilchrist selection and about how the race for governor is unfolding.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

UPDATE (8/22/18 2:23 p.m.): Schuette’s campaign released the following statement from running mate Lisa Posthumus Lyons regarding Whitmer’s statements on Detroit Today this week:

GRAND RAPIDS — Lisa Posthumus Lyons, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, today said that Gretchen Whitmer should end her attempt to use gender politics to distract attention away from her record of helping implement Jennifer Granholm’s disastrous policies when both where in power.  

Yesterday on WDET’s Detroit Today radio program, Whitmer attempted to deflect from questions about her record of supporting Jennifer Granholm’ disastrous governorship by saying, “I’m not going to get distracted by his superficial sexist barbs.”

Lyons says Whitmer should just take responsibility for her record of supporting and helping implement disastrous Granholm polices such as the Michigan Business Tax.

It’s about her record, not her gender, and she knows it. If Jennifer Granholm was a man she would still have had the same terrible policies that ran Michigan into the ground and Gretchen Whitmer still would have helped her do it,” said Lyons.

Senator Whitmer should stop hiding behind gender politics and take responsibility for her record during the Lost Decade.  It certainly is something that voters should be aware of before considering handing the keys over to the Granholm team again.”

Here’s a transcript of the question and answer Lyons references in her statement:

STEPHEN HENDERSON: “Gretchen, I want to talk a little about a criticism that has been leveled at you by Bill Schuette, who’s your opposition in the fall. He compares you to Jennifer Granholm. He calls you Granholm 2.0, in fact. And I think, you know, there are some substantive comparisons that can be made because you’re both Democrats. But the tone of that criticism seems to me to focus on the fact that you’re both women. And I want to just get your reaction to that – if you see it that way, if you see what he’s doing as sexist.”

GRETCHEN WHITMER: “(Laughs) So you’re picking up on that, too, huh, Stephen?”

SH: “(Laughs) Just a little.”

GW: “Listen. Listen. You know, Bill Schuette seems to have some kind of sick obsession with Jennifer Granholm and that’s all he seems to talk about. I’m not running for governor to defend anyone else’s record. I’m running for governor because our potholes are ripping up our cars and endangering our families. We’re paying to fix our cars instead of paying to fix our roads. We’ve got too many communities that cannot drink their water. Bill Schuette was asleep at the wheel for over two-and-a-half years while the people of Flint, their kids were brushing their teeth with water that had lead in it. Our schools used to be the envy of the world and because of Betsy DeVos – you know, Bill’s good buddy – we are now in the bottom ten in our country and we’re failing generations of kids. I’m running for governor because I think we deserve better. And one of the things I’m really proud of is that, as a leader in the Legislature, crossed the aisle and worked with Governor Snyder – a man that I have my share of disagreements with, to be sure – but he embraced Obamacare and he needed a partner because he couldn’t get it done with just Republican votes alone. And I went to work, I rolled up my sleeves, I negotiated with him, we put the votes together. And that’s one of the best things that’s happened in this state. Bill Schuette wants to rip it all away from people. I’m not going to get distracted by his superficial, you know, sexist barbs. I want to stay focused on the issues that matter to people. Garlin and I offer a real vision and a strategic plan to getting it done. And I think that’s the kind of leadership we need in Michigan now more than ever.”

Image credit: Cheyna Roth/MPRN & Jake Neher/WDET

This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

On November 6, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

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Detroit Today

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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