May 19, 2023 - Politics

Gov. Whitmer's national spotlight continues to grow

.S. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit on May 04, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit on May 4, 2023, in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is becoming a national media darling.

Why it matters: Her landslide victory last fall that helped Democrats flip the state Legislature has turned her into a viable candidate for president in the first few months of her second term.

  • The governor shut down the possibility of running for president in 2024 but hasn't ruled it out in the future.
  • Whitmer has been able to push a Democratic agenda without support from Republicans who have mostly refused to support gun safety measures, civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ residents and proposals to keep abortion rights legal.

The intrigue: Increasing Whitmer's national visibility has seemed like an intentional strategy since her election win.

  • "CBS Sunday Morning" profiled Whitmer earlier this year for "That woman from Michigan," a piece highlighting the blowback from her pandemic emergency orders and spars with former President Trump.
  • "She sounds more and more like the Democratic Party's woman to watch," correspondent Martha Teichner says during the segment.

Catch up quick: Whitmer went on her second international trade mission of the year last week to Latvia, where she met Latvian President Egils Levits and Michigan National Guard troops stationed in the country.

  • Prior to that trip, she drank beer with Jordan Klepper of "The Daily Show" at Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, where she declared Michigan "the most diverse swing state in the country."
  • She defended her use of TikTok with CNN's Jake Tapper.

What they're saying: A spokesperson tells Axios that "Governor Whitmer works to meet young Michiganders where they are" by using platforms like TikTok and Twitch.

  • "Governor Whitmer will continue to keep thinking outside the box to engage with Michiganders from all walks of life."
  • Lansing political consultant Adrian Hemond tells Axios that "the doors are wide open for her to run in 2028, but if Dems need a pinch hitter next year, she'd be at the top of the list."

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