Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was hailed as a rising star at the start of the pandemic, so much so that her name was thrown around as a potential running mate for Joe Biden. But her praise was never warranted, and that is made all the more apparent by Michigan’s failed response.
Michigan’s hospitalization rate is now the highest that it has been since the beginning of the pandemic. The state also has the 18th-highest death rate, and deaths are climbing. What’s more, Michigan has a lower percentage of adults vaccinated (65.8%) than Florida (72.7%) and Texas (68%) — those backward GOP states that were condemned as science-deniers spreading COVID-19 across the country.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were popular targets when any bad news came out of their states regarding COVID-19, but Whitmer has escaped that same liberal media ire. In April 2020, Whitmer was described as a promising talent in the Democratic Party by the Washington Post. Vox touted that she emerged as a foil for President Donald Trump.
The praise was never deserved. Whitmer’s lockdowns were unnecessarily strict and wildly inconsistent. Schools were closed for in-person instruction, and youth sports were canceled. She ordered stores to close areas “dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint.” She banned private gatherings and visits to vacation homes. Later on, after urging people to stay home as cases surged, she took off to visit that dangerous state of Florida.
Meanwhile, she was one of a handful of Democratic governors who forced nursing homes to accept patients who tested positive for COVID-19. In August 2020, Michigan had a similar number of nursing home deaths as Florida and Texas despite those states having much larger populations and far more nursing home facilities.
Democrats tried to paint state COVID-19 numbers as a reflection of the governor’s performance when it came to Abbott and DeSantis. But, by that standard, Whitmer was a failure from the beginning. Even if you recognize that that standard is ridiculous (because governors have little control over the spread of the virus), Whitmer failed at the two main things that governors could really control: the severity of lockdowns and protecting the elderly. She wasn’t a rising star but a falling one, and she may end up with a crash landing in the 2022 midterm elections.