Bernstein leading Whitmer running mate selection effort

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News

Lansing — Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gretchen Whitmer’s campaign on Friday announced she has hired a new manager — her third of the 2018 election cycle — and has created a steering committee to help select a future running mate.

The former state Senate minority leader from East Lansing is tapping four high-profile allies from Metro Detroit to supervise recruitment, interviews, vetting and selection of a potential lieutenant governor.

Attorney and University of Michigan Regent Mark Bernstein, who had considered a gubernatorial run of his own before endorsing Whitmer last summer, will chair the committee. It includes Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade.

Bernstein, in a statement, called it an “honor” to lead a “dedicated, accomplished group who have stepped up time and again to fight for the Michigan we deserve to help make such an important decision for the future of our state.”

Whitmer has been racking up establishment endorsements ahead of the August Democratic primary but is facing aggressive challenges from Ann Arbor entrepreneur Shri Thanedar and former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed of Shelby Township.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon has said the Whitmer campaign is considering him as a running mate. Sources have told The Detroit News that several other candidates are also under consideration.

Eric Goldman has also joined Whitmer’s team as her new campaign manager, the campaign confirmed Friday. He replaces Keenan Pontoni, who Whitmer asked to resign last month over unspecified allegations of “inappropriate” workplace behavior before he joined the campaign.

Goldman most recently worked as campaign manager for Ohio gubernatorial candidate Connie Pillich, who dropped out of that race in February, and worked for unsuccessful Pennsylvania congressional candidate Steve Santarsiero in 2016.

Whitmer parted ways with original campaign manager Jerid Kurtz in August and is on her second spokesperson since announcing her run in January 2017.

Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Sarah Anderson blasted Whitmer this week, suggesting “constant turnover, and her inability to run even a small organization like her campaign, demonstrates that Gretchen Whitmer lacks the ability and executive experience to lead Michigan forward.”

Bernstein praised Whitmer in a statement released by her campaign, saying she “knows how to bring people together and get things done so that we can grow an economy that works for everyone, fix our roads, and give every Michigander the opportunity to succeed.”