Prominent Republicans join coalition to support Whitmer for reelection

The formation of the group comes as the Michigan Republican Party struggles to unify ahead of the November election

click to enlarge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. - State of Michigan
State of Michigan
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

More than 150 Michigan Republicans banded together to launch a group supporting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection bid, her campaign announced Monday.

The group includes business leaders, former state lawmakers, an ex-congressman, and top staff from the Republican administrations of Gov. John Engler and Rick Snyder. Jeff Timmer, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, also signed on.

“We, as Michiganders, know what a great place this state is to live, work, and recreate. We also know we have a bright future,” Bill Parfet, chairman and CEO of Northwood Group, said in a statement. “To reach that future, we all need to work together to revamp education, infrastructure, effective government, job creation, safer communities, vital core cities, and preserving the state’s incredible national resources. We all want the same outcomes.”

The formation of the group comes as the Michigan Republican Party struggles to unify ahead of the November election. With far-right candidates for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, the party has alienated moderate Republicans as it continues to echo former President Donald Trump’s election lies and push an anti-abortion agenda.

Whitmer holds a 13-point lead over Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who opposes abortion without exceptions for rape and incest, according to a recent WDIV/Detroit News poll.

"I'm a moderate Republican from Grand Rapids and I'm supporting Governor Whitmer for re-election this fall because she fights for Michigan's children, families, and communities," voter Judy Frey said. "The governor will fight to defend a woman's right to make her own health care decisions and continue to build on her historic investments in our economy, education, and well-being — that's why I'm voting for Governor Whitmer in November."

The group is led by a leadership council of more than 35 Republicans, including former state Reps. Mickey Knight, Doug Hart, and Mike Pumford, former state Sens. Mel Larsen and Tory Rocca, former U.S. Rep. Joe Shwarz and his chief of staff Marc Speiser, former Michigan Economic Development Corporation Chairman Doug Rothwell, and former Engler chief of staff Sharon Rothwell.

Whitmer has signed more than 900 bipartisan bills into law, with three bipartisan tax cuts.

Whitmer’s campaign said the governor supports issues that are important to all residents, not just Democrats — good-paying jobs, safe communities, thriving small businesses, resilient infrastructure, and high-quality education.

"Governor Whitmer has proven herself as a strong leader who is fighting to make Michigan a better place for everyone — regardless of your party affiliation," Schwarz said. "During her time as governor, she has focused on growing our economy with major investments, strengthening our skilled workforce, investing in the education of our children, and making government work for us. I know she will continue to advocate on behalf of hardworking Michiganders and that's why I'm proud to support her for re-election this fall."

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