Democratic victories in Michigan show the way to 2024 | #Education





Whitmer






LZ Granderson


LZ Granderson


Tuesday’s election showed Florida’s governor working hard toward 2024. For Michigan’s reelected leader, Gretchen Whitmer, it looks more like 2024 is coming toward her.

As far as I’m concerned, DeSantis began to prepare his White House bid the day President Donald Trump lost.

In June 2019, DeSantis had visited Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on the third anniversary of the mass shooting that left 49 dead. He promised $500,000 for a permanent memorial. He looked at the photos of the victims, many of whom were Latino and/or gay. He wrote: “Florida will always remember these precious lives.”

Now there’s a signature law from this governor that discourages teachers from talking about those precious lives.

Oh, that’s right. Trump lost. DeSantis saw an opportunity for advancement if he tacked to the right.

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Desantis


DeSantis 




So no one was too surprised to see DeSantis use the momentum from his landslide victory Tuesday over Charlie Crist — a political retread who was more sacrificial lamb than opposition — to look presidential.

But what was surprising was the result in my home state of Michigan. Not only did voters return Whitmer to the driver’s seat, but this time they also gave her the keys by putting her party in charge of the Capitol as well.

It’s been 40 years since Democrats controlled both chambers and the governor’s office. On the flip side, Republicans most recently held that power from 2011 to 2018. Before that, it was 1999 to 2002. It happened in the mid-’90s as well.

But by flipping both House and Senate on Tuesday, voters have given Democrats the most power they’ve had in the state since I was in elementary school. A lot of that had to with protecting abortion rights, something Whitmer’s opponent vowed to strip away. Whitmer rose to fame in 2013 after a passionate speech on the Michigan Senate floor defending abortion rights.

But she wasn’t elected and reelected governor because of a speech. She’s a contender.

If President Joe Biden decides not to seek reelection, do not underestimate her chances for the Democratic nomination and the White House. She outraised her opponent, Tudor Dixon, who was endorsed by Trump and financially backed by his Education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and her family. Whitmer was also greatly aided by the Democratic Governors Association, which has emphasized that the party needs not only Michigan but also her.

It’s not money, ads and maneuvering that win elections. The voters have to trust you. And those in Michigan also voted blue for attorney general and secretary of state.

“Stunning” doesn’t begin to describe the turnaround from 2016, when Republicans flipped Michigan and fueled Trump’s victory in the Electoral College.

Now it’s about nailing the audition. That’s what this moment is. An audition. The party did something in Michigan it hadn’t done since the era of “Thriller.” Eyes will be on Whitmer. The governor has an opportunity to show the rest of the country what a Whitmer administration could look like, what her brand of progressive policies would look like and how she handles the criticism of those policies now that the heat’s been turned up.

I think we already have a sense of what a DeSantis administration would have to offer.

“Michigan’s future is bright,” Whitmer said at her victory party, “and we are about to step on the accelerator.”

Now, where is she planning to go?

Granderson is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times: lz.granderson@latimes.com and @LZGranderson.



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