Gretchen Whitmer, a former Democratic leader in the Michigan State Senate, won her party's nomination for governor in Tuesday's primaries.
As predicted by polls and experts, Whitmer defeated former health director of Detroit Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar.
His victory reflects the enduring strength of the Michigan Democratic establishment and the influential unions that joined behind his candidacy and, possibly, the limits of the power of the left out of the blue bastions.
Whitmer, 46, will face Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, 64, winner of the Republican primaries, in the general election for the governor's seat open. Analysts believe he has a strong chance to restore Democratic control of the governor's mansion after eight years of Republican rule by Rick Snyder, who had a limited mandate.
"He led a very traditional campaign in terms of both the Democratic Party and the state of Michigan," said Matt Grossmann, a political scientist and public opinion expert at Michigan State University. "She was able to maintain a national interest in the finale by Abdul El-Sayed and a well-funded campaign by Shri Thanedar."
The governor's office of Michigan is a major target for the Democrats, who hope to capitalize on the president Donald Trump ] is unpopular in a state that narrowly won in 2016. Trump's approval rating is 36 percent in the Great Lakes state, according to a NBC News survey at the end of July.
After two terms, Snyder is not much more popular. As of April, it had a 38 percent approval rating. Snyder presided over the lead poisoning of the Flint water supply and the constant deterioration of the now infamous roads of the state .
Perhaps it's no wonder then that Whitmer used a lot of the themes of the kitchen table, the main one "fixing the damn ways ", as he memorably expressed it in a campaign ad. By applying user fees, it plans to create a state infrastructure bank that will attract additional federal money to improve roads, bridges and water supply systems.
Whitmer also supports a number of traditional progressive priorities. She wants to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour, provide state residents with two years of college or business school without debt and revoke the state right to work law.
The contrasts between Whitmer and his two opponents were clearer in health and education policy. Unlike El-Sayed, 33, and Thanedar, 63, Whitmer is not compatible with single-payer health insurance at the state level. She also wants to increase the regulation of charter schools for profit, instead of eliminating them altogether.
However, Whitmer argued successfully that her familiarity with the legislative process made her a better administrator of liberal priorities than El-Sayed and Thanedar.
Despite belonging to the legislative minority, it helped negotiate the state expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2013. The following year, Whitmer was part of a successful effort to modestly increase the minimum wage, which is now $ 9.25 per hour .
When Whitmer could not stop the conservative legislation, she protested. In December 2013, the state senator spoke publicly for the first time about rape at the university during a floor speech against a law that required women to take out additional insurance to obtain reimbursement for an abortion.
"I am proud of my progressive record," Whitmer told a crowd of activists at the mid-July picnic at the Michigan Democratic Party in Milford.
Women are more in tune with what we need socially because women are mothers.
Whitmer initially faced the skepticism of the state's big shots, such as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D), who openly tried to recruit US Senator Gary Peters for the race.
Finally, he won the backing of virtually every elected Democrat in Michigan. Duggan led a demonstration for her on the Sunday before the election.
To win, Whitmer raised $ 6.9 million at the end of July. An external group that supports it, Build a Better Michigan, also contributed more than $ 2.2 million. She, however, was overtaken by Thanedar who deposited about $ 11.5 million of her personal fortune.
In addition, Whitmer benefited from the scope of organized labor in the state.
Mary O'Neill, a retired teacher in Troy, was supporting Whitmer for her commitment to improving roads and schools. O'Neill had not heard much about El-Sayed or Thanedar, but he knew about Whitmer thanks to his union, the Michigan Education Association.
And Whitmer had the advantage of being the only woman on the ballot, in a year when a mobilized core of Democratic women helped push candidates to victory – often on favored male rivals .
Debbi Madrigal, a Plymouth resident examining the city's street fair on a hot Sunday in mid-July, explicitly cited Whitmer's genre when explaining his support for the candidate.
"Women are more in tune with what we need socially because women are mothers," said Madrigal.
Like all Democratic candidates at the state level, Whitmer, a native of East Lansing, will benefit from high participation in Detroit. But that could be a challenge: in recent years, when former President Barack Obama was not on the ballot, voters in the city have not left in large numbers.
And it's likely that Whitmer has some work to reunify the Democratic electorate after a long and resounding primary.
Dispatching with El-Sayed, who received a last minute impulse from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Disappointed many of the state's youngest and most progressive voters.
"I do not think Abdul is over or he will not be able to take advantage of the increase in state and national profile, especially at a time when the Democratic Party is looking for people with impressive backgrounds. and a clear orientation to the left, "said Grossmann, the public opinion expert.
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