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Michigan Democrats who worked to elect Biden feel 'relief' on Inauguration Day

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Democrats who dedicated last year to campaigning for President Joe Biden in Michigan said they felt senses of hope and relief Wednesday as their candidate officially took office.

Eddie McDonald, who was a senior adviser to Biden's campaign in Michigan, said he got a cup of tea, sat in front of his television to watch the inaugural festivities and didn't move.

"I wanted to see every second of it," McDonald said.

Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, pictured on Election Day.

McDonald, a longtime Democratic political operative in Michigan, got a call in July about working for Biden's presidential campaign. He talked to his wife about whether he was interested in the job.

"She said, 'Hell yeah, you are,'" McDonald recalled Wednesday, saying taking the campaign's offer was probably one of the best decisions he's made.

Biden's inauguration brought back good and sad memories, including thoughts of individuals who died before Wednesday, he said. He mentioned longtime Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who both passed away last month.

"This is a day of starting over. That’s probably the best way to see it," McDonald said.

Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes over the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump, on Nov. 3. Trump carried the state four years earlier by 10,704 votes against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

More than 30,000 volunteers helped with the campaign in Michigan, said Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party. They made phone calls, knocked doors, wrote letters and hosted Zoom events, Barnes said.

"This is your day to celebrate your part in bringing this about," Barnes said of the volunteers. "Frankly, Michigan played a big part in bringing this about.”

Mark Brewer

Asked how she felt about the inauguration, Barnes responded, "It’s a lot of relief and a lot of hope of where we go from here."

Mark Brewer was Michigan's Democratic Party chairman for more than a decade. An attorney, he worked during the past year on legal and voter protection efforts for Democrats.

"It’s hard to describe," Brewer said of his feelings Wednesday. "It’s really been a four-year effort to get to where we are.”

Brewer said he felt a "tremendous sense of relief" about having Biden in the White House.

"I am getting goose bumps as I talk to you,” Brewer said with a laugh.

cmauger@detroitnews.com