Whitmer raises $1M for governor’s race

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer has raised more than $1 million for her bid to become Michigan’s next governor, her campaign announced Wednesday.

Whitmer launched her campaign in January, becoming the first high-profile candidate to enter a 2018 race that some prospects have not yet declared for. The early entry has given the former state Senate minority leader a head start in the official fundraising battle, with her campaign calling her haul a record for a non-incumbent candidate at this stage in the election cycle.

The East Lansing Democrat has received contributions from more than 3,900 donors, according to her campaign, which said 88 percent of her individual donations totaled $100 or less. She has had nearly 40 fundraisers across the state.

“Gretchen has built an unprecedented coalition of early support, is smashing fund-raising records and has demonstrated that without a doubt she is the most prepared candidate to win back the governor’s office,” campaign manager Jerid Kurtz said in a statement.

“We’re thankful for the outpouring of support Gretchen has received from folks who are ready to challenge the status quo in Lansing, and as our next governor she’s going to keep mobilizing people to take on our tough challenges.”

Whitmer’s announcement comes as several declared and prospective candidates head to Mackinac Island for an annual policy conference. Whitmer was meeting with supporters and raising money Tuesday evening in Alpena before heading to the island.

Fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed, a former Detroit health department director, has received contributions from more than 1,300 individual donors, his campaign said Tuesday, touting his visits to 61 cities and 1,100 registered volunteers.

“How you campaign is how you govern,” Abdul said in a statement. “This campaign is the most energetic, organized, community-driven and people-powered campaign in Michigan right now.”

El-Sayed is also registered for the Mackinac Policy Conference, as is potential Democratic candidate Mark Bernstein, an Ann Arbor attorney and University of Michigan regent.

Likely Republican candidates Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Attorney General Bill Schuette have not yet announced any plans to run for governor, but both have continued to raise money through existing committees for offices they cannot seek re-election to due to term limits.

Schuette had raised $1.08 million for his attorney general committee through the end of 2016, according to state records. Calley had raised $692,215. Those funds could be transferred to new committees if either ran for governor.