LANSING, MICH. - Gretchen Whitmer’s Democratic bid for Governor got a boost Monday with an endorsement from the Michigan Education Association.
The union, which represents 140,000 teachers and school employees, cements Whitmer’s status as front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor.
“It means bodies, it means networking and it’s very important in the primary race because they have people all across the state,” said political consultant Ed Sarpolus. “If the MEA is endorsing this early, it means the push to find somebody to replace Gretchen isn’t going anywhere.”
MEA President Paula Herbart said at a time when public education is under attack across the nation and especially Michigan, Whitmer will bring respect back for teachers, resources for schools and a well-rounded education for students.
“Whitmer is our strongest candidate to take back the governor’s office and we are with her every step of the way," she said.
The American Federation of Teachers Michigan, which represents 30,000 teachers, college faculty members and other school employees, held a candidate forum on Saturday and while all the gubernatorial candidates — both Republicans and Democrats — were invited, only the four Democrats, Whitmer, former Detroit Health Department Director Abdul El-Sayed, and retired businessmen Shri Thanedar of Ann Arbor and Bill Cobbs of Farmington Hills attended.
The union hasn't endorsed a candidate yet, said AFT Michigan President David Hecker.
"We’ll continue to reach out and get input of members and we’ll see how things develop," he said. "But the governor's race will be our top priority."
Whitmer has gotten the most endorsements from labor organizations among the four leading Democratic candidates.
El-Sayed got the endorsement of the Michigan Nurses Association, which represents 11,000 nurses across the state. Neither Cobbs nor Thanedar have received any endorsements from organizations, but Thanedar has pumped in $6 million of his own money into his race.
Whitmer said the endorsement means that she can help in the effort to keep kids like her daughters in Michigan after they graduate.
“Making Michigan the place our kids want to make their lives in and that others move to again begins with education,” she said. “Michigan students and educators haven’t had someone in their corner in a long time. As governor, I’ll accept nothing less than excellence in our public schools.”
On the Republican gubernatorial candidate side, Attorney General Bill Schuette received one of the biggest endorsements when President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said they supported Schuette. Sen. Patrick Colbeck got the nod last week from Texas Senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz. And while Gov. Rick Snyder hasn’t officially endorsed in the race, he has been touting Calley’s experience at every chance he gets.
Voters will choose the major party nominees for governor during the Aug. 7 primary election.
Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @michpoligal.
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