Democratic group reserves $23 million in ad time to boost Whitmer's reelection

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Democratic Governors Association is reserving $23 million in TV ad time to support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this fall, a potentially significant move that points to the national interest in the battleground state's November election.

On Wednesday, the association and its allied entities announced initial ad reservations for seven states where Democratic governors are seeking reelection, including Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin. The reservations, which could change, totaled $75 million with Michigan's race seeing the largest early investment plan.

"Gov. Whitmer is delivering results on the biggest issues facing Michigan families everyday and the DGA is proud to have her back," said Marshall Cohen, political director for the Democratic Governors Association. "She’s worked across the aisle to lower costs by delivering $400 checks to every driver, land the largest investment from General Motors in history and fund schools at historic levels without raising taxes — all while fighting like hell to protect our democracy and individual rights like reproductive freedom."

Whitmer was elected Michigan's governor in 2018, defeating then-Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican from Midland, by 9 percentage points.

The general election race in 2018 drew about $50 million overall, including about $15 million from an organization tied to the Democratic Governors Association, according to tracking by the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Gretchen Whitmer and Garlin Gilchrist during a rally on the mall near the Capitol during their run for governor and lieutenant governor.

A $23 million investment from the Democratic Governors Association in 2022 would be a major play in Michigan, a state Democratic President Joe Biden won by 3 points two years earlier.

Whitmer's own campaign reported having $9.9 million on hand to begin the election year, a total that easily exceeded the fundraising of her potential Republican opponents.

Former Detroit police Chief James Craig, one of 10 GOP candidates seeking their party's nomination on Aug. 2 to challenge Whitmer, reported having $845,970 available to start 2022.

There are also self-funding candidates in the Republican primary race, including businessmen Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township and Perry Johnson of Bloomfield Hills, who plan to spend millions of dollars of their own money on their campaigns for governor.

Johnson, who leads businesses in the certification and registration industry, told reporters in April he'll spend "whatever it takes" to win the GOP primary.

In March, the Republican Governors Association announced $3.5 million in ad reservations in Michigan with spots planned for Oct. 12-Nov. 8, Election Day.

"The RGA is committed to investing in these states to ensure Americans know life is better when a Republican governor is in charge," said Dave Rexrode, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association. "Democrat governors have failed to adequately address the problems at the front of every voter’s mind: record high costs of goods, parents being shut out of their child’s education, skyrocketing crime and multiple crises abroad and at the border."

In addition to the governor's race, the November ballot will also see contests for attorney general, secretary of state and every seat in Michigan Legislature.