With just a few days to go before the Michigan Democratic primary, former Vice President Joe Biden gained the governor’s endorsement Thursday morning.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced her endorsement of Biden during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” saying that her decision to back Biden was influenced by her experiences in “taking care of my mom at the end of her battle with brain cancer and rearing my new child and fighting an insurance company that was wrongfully denying her chemotherapy.”
Whitmer added that Biden’s son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died in 2015 from “the same brain tumor that took my mom’s life.” She then continued praising the former vice president’s record by touting his role in passing the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which allowed her to expand the state’s Medicaid coverage.
Shortly after her appearance on MSNBC, Whitmer also tweeted her support for Biden.
We need a president who will show up and fight for Michiganders, and @JoeBiden has proven time and again that he has our back. I am proud to both endorse him and announce that I will be joining his campaign as a co-chair. pic.twitter.com/Vs5J4Ik09F
— Gretchen Whitmer (@gretchenwhitmer) March 5, 2020
In a statement shared with TPM Thursday morning, Whitmer added that “Biden has proven time and again that he has our backs.”
Walter Mebane, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, told TPM in a phone interview Thursday morning that although Whitmer’s endorsement of Biden “won’t have much effect,” she joins “the large coordination or consolidation action that’s happening” after Biden clearly emerged as “the choice of the center-left of the Democratic Party” following his strong Super Tuesday performance.
“Black voters and suburban voters and all kinds of voters are rallying around him, and I can say the governor’s endorsement is part of that rally,” Mebane told TPM. “It might be some small effect, but she’s certainly joining the parade that’s happening.”
Mebane also argued that comparing this year’s primary to 2016, when Sanders won, is “really tricky,” given how Biden so far “does not have the negatives that came out associated with Hillary Clinton.” Mebane said he “certainly” expects the former VP to do better than Clinton did.
When asked about dynamics to keep an eye on in the Michigan primary, Mebane mentioned that “biggest variable” is the fear surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and how it could potentially affect voter turnout. Mebane added that Michigan’s first time with absentee voting where people aren’t “locked into their choice” could play a big role as well.
“Unlike in California or Colorado where people voted and couldn’t change, now I think the results in the absentee votes may reflect more of the current position of the candidates. I think we’ll still get a bigger update to the current situation than we had in those states.
Whitmer isn’t the only endorsement Biden gained on Thursday morning. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) — who served as a manager in the Senate impeachment trial — announced her endorsement of Biden during an interview on CNN, saying that the former vice president “has been there in the trenches fighting for those things that are important to the American people.”
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