SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Whitmer, other Michigan Democrats celebrate Biden win

Michigan Democratic officials celebrated Saturday as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wrapped up enough electoral votes after four days of vote counting to win the White House and was poised to succeed President Donald Trump as the 46th president of the United States. 

The Associated Press called the race for Biden, 77, after he won Pennsylvania Saturday, surpassing the 270 Electoral College vote threshold he would need to win the presidency.

Biden is expected to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million votes, even as Trump's campaign has alleged voting fraud without producing direct evidence of such. The former vice president won Michigan 51%-48% and had a 146,000 vote lead in Michigan ahead of canvassing and the certification of results. 

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer arrive to speak at Beech Woods Recreation Center, in Southfield, Mich., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

Biden said Saturday he was "honored and humbled" by American voters' trust. 

"With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation," he said in a statement. "It’s time for America to unite. And to heal."

But Trump accused Biden of "rushing to falsely pose as the winner" and said the "election is far from over." He promised his campaign would being "prosecuting" its case in court Monday to ensure election laws are properly upheld. 

"Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor," Trump said in a statement.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a national co-chair for Biden's campaign, congratulated the former vice president and his running mate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and promised to unite with them to fight COVID-19. 

"It is all of our responsibility to do everything in our power to protect our families, front-line workers, and small businesses," Whitmer said in a statement, noting Michigan's cases surpassed 200,000 Friday. 

Democratic former Gov. Jim Blanchard, who's known Biden for 46 years, celebrated the win for Biden, who helped Blanchard campaign for Congress in 1974. The former vice president is "the man for Michigan," Blanchard said. 

"He’s the only Democrat who could have carried Michigan and America," the former governor said. "He will be great for our state. His experience, character and determination are just what our country needs."

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, credited turnout among Black voters for putting Biden over the top in Michigan.

“This is a day when I firmly believe that character, compassion and inclusion have been put on the ballot and we won. I am so excited about tomorrow. I am so proud of Black America. I'm proud of Michigan, where the Black community came out and voted. We didn't throw away our vote,” said Lawrence, the only African American in Michigan’s delegation. 

“I am so proud that we're going to make history with Kamala Harris being the first Black woman to serve in the White House and administration as our vice president. I am so happy that we can begin to unite this country and stop this madness of division.”

Lawrence acknowledged that Trump is pushing legal challenges in several states, saying “if you feel you have a legal grievance, you definitely can take it to court.”

“I’m confident in my secretary of state and that we conducted an election that was one that was fair and according to the rules. If you feel you have a grievance, go for it. I’m not worried at all about that,” she said. “The people have spoken.” 

But one Michigan U.S. House Republican said the race is not over.

“It’s not done,” U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said in a Saturday Facebook video that compared this election with the 2000 presidential face-off in Florida. Democrat Al Gore didn’t concede to George W. Bush until after a Dec. 12 Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush’s victory in Florida that gave him the White House

“We need to make sure that every vote is counted and every legal process that has gone through is having his voice be heard. This needs to be open, needs to be transparent.”

Canadian President Justin Trudeau congratulated Biden and Harris, noting Canada and the U.S. "are close friends, partners and allies."

"We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage," said Trudeau. "I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both."

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan's most senior Republican in Congress, acknowledged Biden's win by saying the "votes have been counted" and "the American people have spoken."

"We have to find a way to come together, bridge divisions and focus on solutions that help the millions who are struggling," the St. Joseph Republican said.

"I am raising my hand and committing to working with President-elect Biden and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress to do exactly that. As Frederick Douglass said, 'I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.'”

Despite ongoing legal challenges to vote counts in some states, Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell of Dryden said his feeling is that, in all likelihood, Biden and Harris will prevail just because of the “sheer number” of votes in various jurisdictions.

“We do need to resolve any legal challenges that are outstanding in some states and the recounts, though only rarely do recounts come up with a significant enough change in votes to make a difference,” said Mitchell, who is retiring at the end of his term.

He also responded to Trump's Saturday tweet that he won the election by “a lot.”

“Even if you say repeatedly, it doesn't mean you won. Winning is based on counting all the legally cast votes and resolving all the legal challenges. That's when you can claim you've won. Before that, it's just noise," Mitchell said.

"That's the way it works in any election — I don't care if it's president of the United States or township supervisor. It's the way it's been for a very long time." 

He stressed that recounts are appropriate where they're warranted.

"Where there may be some inconsistency in terms of election activities, if there's fraud, we need to uncover it and cast those ballots out. And we take steps in the future to prevent that where we can,” Mitchell said. "But making broad statements undercutting our election process is) damaging to our country should stop.”

He attributed Trump’s loss in part to a “catastrophic” performance in the first debate and said the president's discouragement of vote by mail during a pandemic was a “poor political position and moral position to take.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Biden's historic election will have a "tremendous positive impact on America, on Michigan and on the City of Detroit. President-elect Biden was a friend to Detroit when we were down, helping save our auto industry and helping our city to recovery from bankruptcy."

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Hills, said the election "made history" and promised to help combat coronavirus and boost Michigan families and jobs. His Republican opponent John James hasn't conceded that race.

"It is clear we need to heal our country from the politics of division and hyper-partisanship and that will be our mandate as we look ahead and start to build back better," he said. 

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, congratulated Biden after a "long, challenging campaign."

"I truly believe that whether you voted for him or not, President Biden will be a president for all Americans," Stabenow said. "We have no time to lose. Our nation faces a host of issues — from a deadly pandemic, to the resulting economic fallout, to the climate crisis."

Members of Michigan's House delegation, which is split 7-7, and traditional Democratic coalition groups quickly congratulated Biden.

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin of Bloomfield Township said the nation is ready to "build back better."

"I look forward to a Biden-Harris administration containing this pandemic and giving American workers the fair shake they have been denied for decades," he wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, said Biden would be a "strong, decent and empathetic leader."

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, said Biden "is the right leader for this moment."

"He can unite our country, rebuild our economy, and get the pandemic under control," Stevens said on Twitter. "He knows what we do here in Michigan, which is why Michiganders voted for him & our amazing new VP."

Biden has "been a friend" to labor and the United Auto Workers union, UAW President Rory Gamble said, urging unity in the wake of Biden's win. 

"Now we must look to ourselves to set an example and to work as one nation, under God, united and indivisible as we work for an end to this pandemic and a brighter future for our members, their families and their communities," Gamble said. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com