Whitmer endorses House candidate Pulver, campaigns with her in West Bloomfield Twp.

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Correction: Jacque Buers is on the Michigan Nurses Association board of directors. This story has been corrected to properly attribute a quote to her.

West Bloomfield Township — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endorsed Julia Pulver for the 39th House District seat and canvassed with her Sunday in West Bloomfield Township. 

Whitmer and Pulver, a registered nurse, stressed the importance of health care and cited efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act as a reason to get to the polls. 

"We want to do more in expanding health care, that's what Julia Pulver is running on," said Whitmer. "That's the kind of experience that she brings to the state Legislature. Can you imagine if we had a nurse sitting around the discussion in terms of the tables where decisions are being made?"

Republicans hold a 58-52 majority in the state House. Democrats would need to win four GOP seats to take control of the chamber for the first time in a decade. 

Pulver is running against incumbent Rep. Ryan Berman, R-Commerce Township, for one of three seats in Oakland County. 

"I’m not surprised that Governor Whitmer has decided to make an endorsement along party lines," said Berman. 

" ... I’d like to assume that my opponent is well-intentioned, but I'm afraid she'll merely be a rubber-stamp for the democrat party and extreme leftist policies," he added. "Her campaign continues to spread lies about me but I am the most qualified to represent the 39th District. Voting should be about the person and their platform, not just the party.

"I have lived in the district my entire life and my legal, law enforcement and now legislative experience gives me the skill set needed to understand the complex issues while legislating." 

Berman said he opposed Whitmer's emergency orders enacted when the pandemic hit Michigan. The Michigan Supreme Court struck down the orders, finding a 1945 law an unconstitutional grant of legislative authority to the Governor's Office..

"The governor should absolutely have emergency powers in an emergency. But six months later, it's not an emergency anymore. It's a known threat," he said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Julia Pulver, a candidate for 39th House District, visits with the Mangrulkar family while campaigning in West Bloomfield Township on Sunday.

Pulver, 37, spent much of her career working with intensive care patients before transitioning to her current role in care management. She said a shift of party control in the Legislature is needed to get things done.

"We have to flip this seat and we have to flip the Michigan House to get a majority, so that we can actually work with our governor instead of suing her and fighting her," Pulver said.

The Michigan Nurses Association also endorsed Pulver on Sunday. Jacque Buers, a member of its board of directors, said Pulver will make health care coverage a priority.

 "With the Affordable Care Act uncertain until the Supreme Court ruling, we have to rely more and more on state legislators to fight for affordable health care, Buers said. 

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, Pulver said there is still power at the state level to protect people's health care coverage. 

"We can have a public option that's run by our state so that we can cover everybody regardless of pre-existing conditions. And even if they do have coverage, we can help cover those gaps for our seniors when they fall into that Medicare doughnut hole, when prescription drugs become completely unaffordable, we can help with that as well," she said. 

U.S. Rep Debbie Dingell, D-12th District, also backed Pulver on Sunday, saying she supports Pulver because of her stance on health care. 

"The fact of the matter is, COVID has shined a light on the fractures in our health care society. ... Health care is on the ballot, and our governor needs a Legislature that's going to work with her," said Dingell. 

Staff Writer Christine Ferretti contributed.