Obama endorses Whitmer, Slotkin, Stevens, other Mich. Dems

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News
Former President Barack Obama speaks as he campaigns in support of California congressional candidates, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif.

Former President Barack Obama on Monday officially endorsed fellow Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for Michigan governor in her race against Republican Bill Schuette, who is backed by President Donald Trump.

Obama’s office also announced support for several U.S. House and legislative hopefuls in Michigan, including 8th Congressional District candidate Elissa Slotkin and 11th Congressional District candidate Haley Stevens.

“The Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we lead with conviction, principle, and bold, new ideas,” Obama said in a statement. “Our incredible array of candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before,”

Obama jumped into the mid-term election on Aug. 1, announcing an initial wave of Democrats he was backing, and he campaigned for congressional candidates in California last month.

In comments distributed by the Whitmer campaign, Obama noted the former state Senate minority leader helped secure votes for Medicaid expansion in Michigan under the Affordable Care Act. The Healthy Michigan program, championed by term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, now provides insurance to roughly 675,000 residents.

“As governor, she'll focus on getting things done that will actually make a difference in people's lives right now, like fixing Michigan's roads, speeding up the replacement of lead pipes in communities like Flint, and getting our kids the skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs,” Obama said. “That’s exactly the kind of leadership Michigan needs in the governor’s office right now."

Trump endorsed Schuette via Twitter in September 2017, nearly a full year before he would win the Republican primary, and called the attorney general a "really great friend of mine" and "the next governor of Michigan" at a Macomb County rally in April. 

The president has also endorsed Farmington Hills military veteran and businessman John James in his long-shot race to unseat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Schuette said last week he continues to “fully expect” that Trump will campaign for him in Michigan at some point before the Nov. 6 general election. Former Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Whitmer last month in Metro Detroit. It’s not yet clear whether Obama will campaign for any candidates in Michigan this year.

Slotkin, a former defense official in the Obama administration, is competing with U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan’s closely-watched 8th Congressional District.

Stevens, a Rochester Hills Democrat who served as chief of staff to Obama’s auto task force, is competing with Republican businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Township, who co-chaired Trump’s Michigan campaign in 2016.

Here is the full list of Michigan candidates Obama endorsed Monday, as released by his office:

Gretchen Whitmer (Governor)
Garlin Gilchrist II (Lt. Governor)
Elissa Slotkin (U.S. House, MI-08)
Haley Stevens (U.S. House, MI-11)
Dayna Polehanki (State Senate, District 07)
Rosemary Bayer (State Senate, District 12)
Mallory McMorrow (State Senate, District 13)
Julia Pulver (State Senate, District 15)
Sean McCann (State Senate, District 20)
Winnie Brinks (State Senate, District 29)
Poppy Sias-Hernandez (State Senate, District 34)
Matt Koleszar (State House, District 20)
Kelly Breen (State House, District 38)
Mari Manoogian (State House, District 40)
Padma Kuppa (State House, District 41)
Alberta Griffin (State House, District 61)
Jim Haadsma (State House, District 62)
Kara Hope (State House, District 67)
Angela Witwer (State House, District 71)
Rachel Hood (State House, District 76)
Tanya Cabala (State House, District 91)