As the midterm election results rolled in late Tuesday night, guests filled the Sound Board Theater at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit for the Michigan Democratic Party’s election watch night. As Michigan Democrat winners were called, they addressed an enthusiastic audience with victory speeches.
First to be announced were U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor. The two took the stage in anticipation of the winners soon to be announced.
“We’re excited because people are not going to worry about protecting the Great Lakes, we’re going to have a Governor that makes sure to protect our water … We’re going to make sure that we fix the damn roads … and we’re going to work hard to make sure every American has affordable quality healthcare,” Dingell said. “Tonight you can party and tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and work hard to deliver for the people of Michigan who voted for us.”
Kildee then announced the victory of Haley Stevens in the 11th Congressional District. Following a period while votes were still being counted, Lieutenant Governor-elect Garlin Gilchrist was the next Democrat announced as victorious. He took to the stage and spoke on his excitement for the state of Michigan as well as his gratitude for Michigan voters.
“We stand on this stage upon the shoulders of giants who had a vision that went beyond generations, and it’s our generation’s responsibility to live up to that vision to have our imaginations exceed our expectations,” Gilchrist said. “Tonight is a statement that we can accomplish anything we set our hearts to … And if history has not yet been made then we can make it.”
Gilchrist then introduced Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, winner of the governor’s race.
“I am so excited about what the state of Michigan is doing right now,” Gilchrist said. “And the only thing I might be more excited about is the woman who’s going be the next governor and that’s Gretchen Whitmer.”
Whitmer defeated Republican candidate Bill Schuette, Michigan attorney general, and succeeds term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder. The race was called by the Associated Press at about 10 p.m. with about half of Michigan’s polls reporting. At that point, Whitmer led with 53.8 percent of the vote over 43.3 percent for Schuette.
“I am incredibly, incredibly humbled that you put your trust in me to be your next governor,” Whitmer said. “Early results appear to be a record turnout, so this victory belongs to you. We may have all gone to the polls for very different reasons, but today we as Michiganders came out because we all love this state and because we want a Michigan that works for every one of us.”
She then described her campaign’s logo: the Mackinac Bridge. She explained the bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, opened 61 years ago but was built during a time of divided government.
“A lot of people didn’t think they’d ever come together to build that bridge… and yet Michiganders worked together,” Whitmer said. “We built a bridge that brought us together and strengthened our economy. And at a time where we see too many people who want to divide us through building walls, I think we in Michigan need to get back to building bridges.”
Whitmer voiced to a chanting and energized crowd her prospects for the future. After 22 months of campaigning, she explained, she is ready “to hit the ground running.”
“To the people of this great state, the work ahead will not be easy… but no matter the challenge I want you to know I will be a governor who works for everyone in this state,” Whitmer said. “For those who voted for me and those who didn’t, a governor who brings people together to solve problems, a governor who always puts you, the people, first. Thank you Michigan, let’s build some bridges.”
Back on campus, student political groups had mixed reactions to election night results. LSA sophomore Dylan Berger, president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said he was disappointed by Schuette losing. He said the results were not indicative of a “blue wave,” and he hopes Whitmer proves his concerns with her platform wrong.
“It was very unfortunate that Bill Schuette lost,” Berger said. “He ran a solid campaign, and I really think that Michiganders will regret voting for Gretchen Whitmer, but I’ll be praying for Gretchen Whitmer tonight. I’ll be praying that she does a fantastic job for our state, and I certainly hope I was wrong in everything that I said about her. I hope she does a great job, but I’m certainly concerned.”
Public Policy junior Katie Kelly, Communications Director for College Democrats said she is excited about the hard work College Democrats put into getting Whitmer elected. After the upset in the 2016 election, Kelly said she didn’t want to trust the polls, but they ultimately turned out in her favor.
“I believe she is going to be a voice for all of Michigan,” Kelly said. “She has made it very clear by all the times she has come to campus that she is going to be a voice for students, she’s going to be a voice for working families, she’s going to be a voice for education, she’s been heavily involved in public schools in our state. All around, I think she’s going to be a voice for Michigan.”