Editor's note: Whitmer pivots to post-election

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Gretchen Whitmer appeared to make the pivot Wednesday from gubernatorial candidate to likely Michigan governor.

In a joint appearance with Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, before the Detroit Economic Club, Whitmer barely mentioned her opponent. Instead, she focused on her own agenda and, considering the audience and the questions they raised, emphasized her plans to improve education, talent development and other priorities of the business community.

Bill Schuette and Gretchen Whitmer shake hands after individual sessions infront of the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

That’s a sharp shift from last week’s formal debate, where both she and Schuette spent a large chunk of their time attacking each other.

Schuette remained on the attack at the Economic Club, calling out Whitmer’s “extreme agenda” and continuing to tie her to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Michigan’s lost decade. Several times he warned the business people that Whitmer would jeopardize the pro-business climate built by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Striving to appear gubernatorial was a smart play by Whitmer.

First, it demonstrates her confidence that the polls are right in projecting a big lead for her with just days to go before Tuesday’s election.

Second, it’s a recognition that a lot of people, particularly business people, are worried about moving from a businessman governor who represented their interests well.

If she wins, Whitmer will need business support to succeed as governor.

The race isn’t over. If we’ve learned anything from past elections, it’s that the only poll that matters is the one taken on Election Day.

But Whitmer’s clear shift Wednesday signals she is already looking beyond Election Day to the challenges she’ll face after the votes are in.