GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and more than 150 Republicans launched a new campaign effort on Monday in an effort to boost her re-election prospects against GOP candidate Tudor Dixon.
The group includes several prominent Republicans from across the state, including former GOP lawmakers and top staff serving under former Republican governors John Engler and Rick Snyder.
“I recognize that we may not agree on every issue, but I am focused on solving problems,” said Whitmer at a campaign stop in Grand Rapids. “I will sit at the table and make room for any person who wants to solve problems. What I don’t have time for is people who just want to age culture wars and talk about things that aren’t going well.”
Many of those in the coalition rallied with Whitmer during her 2018 campaign against then-Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Dixon said she would take the support of her followers over “Lansing’s big government cocktail crowd any day of the week.”
“We are attracting the support of business owners who had their livelihoods crushed by Whitmer, law enforcement officials who can no longer take the radical bent of today’s Democrat Party that sides with Defund the Police, and parents who had their children locked out of schools by this cruel, heartless governor,” said Sara Broadwater, communications director for Dixon. “We’ll take their support over the Lansing’s big government cocktail crowd any day of the week."
Former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz called Whitmer’s first term “superb.” He applauded Whitmer’s willingness to work across the aisle and historic investments in K-12 schools and higher education.
“Some of the things that she has done, I believe, should’ve been done previously and [were] not done,” said Schwarz.
According to Whitmer’s campaign, she has signed more than 900 bipartisan bills into law over the past four years.
Jim Haveman, former director of the Michigan Department of Community Health under Engler and Snyder, said he does not think Dixon's campaign understands what the job of governor entails.
He hopes other Republicans see that it’s okay to vote for someone else in November.
“I didn’t see any understanding of policy,” said Haveman. “I didn’t see any platform, I haven’t seen any direction on what she plans to do. It looks to me [that Dixon’s campaign] it perpetuates a lot of what we know as the ‘Big Lie’, [that] it has perpetuated that government isn’t really there to make a difference in one’s lives. I feel much differently about that.”
The Republicans for Whitmer leadership council includes:
- Jim Haveman, former Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health under John Engler and Rick Snyder
- Jim Murray, Owner of Tradecraft Strategies, former president of AT&T, and former Deputy Chief of Staff for Republican Speaker Rick Johnson
- William G. Milliken, Jr.
- Dan Musser, Chairman, Arnold Freight Co. Mackinac Island
- Bob LaBrant
- Bill Parfet, Chairman and CEO, Northwood Group
- Sidney J. Jansma, Jr.
- Mickey Knight, former State Representative
- Rodney Nelson, former CEO, Mackinac Straits Health System
- Joan Porteous
- Joe Schwarz, M.D., former U.S. Congressman (MI-07)
- David Farbman, Founder & CEO of Rise family of companies, Principal in Farbman Group, Chairman and founder of CarbonTV
- Judy Frey
- Louise Alderson, former Legislative Director under Governor Engler
- Pat Allen
- Roger Elkins, Osceola County Commissioner
- Mel Larsen, former State Senator
- Kurt Berryman
- Mark Miller, former Deputy Chief Operating Officer, MCH
- Doug Hart, former State Representative
- Dennis Cawthorne, former Michigan House Republican Leader
- Mike Pumford, former State Representative
- Jeff Cobb, former Secretary, Michigan State Senate
- Walid Gammouh, LMSW SSW, Multi-Cultural Services Director, ACC
- Stephanie Comai, former Deputy Director of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Director of Talent Investment Agency under Governor Snyder
- Tory Rocca, former State Senator
- Sharon Rothwell, former Chief of Staff to Governor Engler
- Doug Rothwell, former Chair, Michigan Economic and Development Corporation (MEDC)
- Ann and Allen Schipper
- Dennis Smith, former CEO of the UP Health Plan
- Marc Speiser, former Chief of Staff to Congressman Schwarz (MI-07)
- Edward Toma
- Jeff Timmer, former Executive Director of Michigan Republican Party
- Mattie Timmer, Business Development Specialist, DTMB
- John Pirich, retired lawyer