Skubick: These two events brought Gov. Whitmer back into politics

Michigan

In the second part of our series with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, she reveals that she had no desire to run for governor after she finished 14 years in the Michigan House and Senate.  

Unlike others who longed for the job early on in their lives, the governor admits, at one point, she was done with politics for good.

Almost from the moment he set foot in the Michigan House as Rep. John Engler, in the back of his mind, he was figuring out how to change that title to Governor and eventually he did.

It was often said in this town that Republican Bill Schuette came out of his mother’s womb and announced he wanted to be governor.

Gretchen Whitmer took care of that but she reveals in a Michigan Public TV interview that being governor was not on her agenda from the get-go.

“It was not something that was long planned,” explains the governor. “I was not one of those people who came out of the womb saying that I wanted to run for office one day.”

In fact, she almost never got to her victory party in November of 2018 because, when she finished her 14 years in the legislature, she had had it with politics as she walked out of the Capitol door for what she thought was the last time.

“I was ready to be done as I left that night and said goodbye to the Capitol in that beautiful cold winter and took some time off.”

Skubick: “So that night that you left you were done with politics in your mind.”

Gov. Whitmer: “Yeah. I thought so, absolutely.”

Skubick: “You were up to here with it?”

Gov. Whitmer: “Yeah. I was tired.”

She told her parents and her close friends, she was done with public service and would explore other adventures.

And then the Flint water crisis splashed onto the front pages, followed by the headline grabbing sordid story of two lawmakers who got caught in an affair.

Now, instead of thinking she was done with the political game, her attitude flipped.

“I think the magnitude of the Flint water crisis became known and between that and the Cindy Gamrat scandal happening at the time, I thought you know we need leaders who live their values and do the right thing and fix problems and that’s when I really started to think, you know I might run for office again.”

And then, on January third in her East Lansing kitchen, she announced she wanted to be governor and then 671 days later she became just that.

In part three of this four-part series of interviews, the governor talks about her first crisis just three weeks into the job.

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