Whitmer says student voters could decide Michigan election during final campaign rally at MSU

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Attorney General Dana Nessel in East Lansing during the final rally of their re-election campaign on Nov. 7, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

By Andrew Roth, Michigan Advance

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed out her reelection campaign Monday with a rally at her alma mater of Michigan State University, telling students that their votes could be what swings the final result of key statewide races on Tuesday.

“This election could be decided by a few thousand votes. That could be made up just on this campus alone,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer appealed to Michigan State’s team spirit, telling the crowd that she saw footage of Ann Arbor “voting in droves.”

“Now, I’m pretty confident that’s a good sign for us, but I want the Spartans to win that competition,” Whitmer said.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, a University of Michigan alum, called Tuesday’s election “the most important game day of the year.”

Basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson had been advertised on public promotional materials for the event but was not in attendance. Joe Costello, a spokesperson for the Whitmer campaign, noted that Johnson did tweet an endorsement of Whitmer earlier in the day.

I hope that Governor Gretchen Whitmer gets another four years as Governor of Michigan! @GovWhitmer

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 7, 2022

Whitmer noted that several of the speakers who preceded her at the event – including Gilchrist and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel – are Wolverines, beginning her speech by saying “it’s about damn time you heard from a real Spartan.”

“We have a little bit of a rivalry in our household,” Nessel said. “I’m a Wolverine. My two sons are Spartans right now. My wife went to Michigan State for graduate school, went to U of M for undergrad – so she’s bi.”

Whitmer’s daughters attend U of M.

She told reporters she wanted to hold her final rally in East Lansing to connect with young voters.

“I love this campus. The best years of my life were on this campus. We wanted to close out with energy, young people and a great band. Your generation has the longest, most important stake in the outcome of this election,” Whitmer told a State News reporter. “This is a great place to close out the last day before the election.”

That youthful energy was on display when several students in the crowd shouted out during Whitmer’s speech that it was time to BeReal.

“I love you so much,” Whitmer responded on stage. “I love it when some of you say, ‘Do you know what a BeReal is?’ Yes, I’ve got an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old!”

Whitmer expressed optimism about Democrats’ chances of reelecting her and possibly flipping the state Legislature, which has been under complete GOP control since 2011.

“We feel good. We have been all across the state, the enthusiasm is real,” Whitmer said. “I’m encouraged, but we take nothing for granted. We take no community, no vote, no person for granted. … This is Michigan, we’ve always expected a close race, and so we’re going to work until the last ballot is cast.”

Lansing band Starfarm performed at the event in a repeat of Whitmer’s August 2018 and November 2018 election eve rallies.

However, Whitmer said she has a different feeling headed into Election Day this year than she did four years ago because of the fact that her GOP opponent this year, Tudor Dixon, has promoted conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 presidential election and has not committed to accepting this election’s outcome.

“That’s a very different situation than four years ago. I knew my opponent would be honorable and call me if it came out that I had won the election. I do not go into this one taking that for granted,” Whitmer said. “I am prepared to accept the will of the people; I always will, I am a public servant. I know my ego, and my political party, is not more important than the health of our democracy.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: [email protected]. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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