Take Early Calls For Bipartisanship "With A Grain Of Salt"

Feb 1, 2019

File photo of Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after her speech outside the state Capitol building, Jan. 1, 2019
Credit Carlos Osario / The Associated Press

For the first time since John Engler left office, Michigan has a governor with experience in the state Legislature. Michigan Public Radio Network reporter Cheyna Roth says Gretchen Whitmer knows “how things work within the Capitol Dome.” WDET reporter Jake Neher says Whitmer has been part of negotiations between the governor and lawmakers “to quote Hamilton, she was in the room where it happens.” Roth and Neher are the hosts of MichMash. A special one hour version of the program will examine the State of the State Tuesday, February 5th at 8:00p.m. on WMUK.


Whitmer called for bipartisanship in her inaugural address. Snyder struck a similar tone in 2011 when he took office. Neher says that should be taken with a grain of salt. He says the term usually begins with a call for unity, and eventually partisanship takes over. But he says despite GOP majorities in the state House and Senate, the Republican Snyder did need Democratic votes on some issues such as Medicaid expansion. Neher says one of the key Democratic lawmakers in those negotiations was then-state Senator Gretchen Whitmer.

Longer interview (WestSouthwest podcast) with Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher

Roth says Whitmer will need Republican votes in order to accomplish anything as governor. The Democrat starts her term, facing Republican majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Roth says Whitmer is “coming at this from a legislative perspective.”

Whitmer will give her first State of the State address on Tuesday February 12th. It was scheduled for February 5th. The governor decided to move her address back a week. But Roth says even that move prompted a pushback from Republican Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield. Roth says “it was a very small, quick thing.” But she says “it’s unclear at this point if this is sort of foretelling some cracks in the foundation of bipartisanship.”