Governor Jennifer Granholm Essay

Introduction            Jennifer Mulhern Granholm was elected as the 47th governor of the State of Michigan in November 2002, winning over her Republican opponent, Michigan Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus.  In 1998 Granholm also became the first woman ever to be elected as attorney general for Michigan.

            Granholm had always been politically inclined.  She graduated from the University of California in Berkley with a degree in political science in 1984, making her the first person in her family to graduate from college.  She funded her own education with student loans and by holding down several jobs.

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  She earned her J.D. degree in Harvard Law School in 1987, and served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Law Review (Thomson Gale 2006; Officer of the Governor – Michigan 2006). After graduating from law school Granholm worked as a judicial law clerk for Judge Damon Keith of the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Detroit.  She was admitted to the Michigan, the US District Court (eastern district) of Michigan, and the US Court Appeals 6th Circuit in 1987.  She was executive assistant for Wayne Country two years after, and spent 1988 as field coordinator for the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign (Thomson Gale 2006; Officer of the Governor – Michigan 2006).

            In 1990, Granholm joined the Department of Justice as a US prosecutor in Detroit, and achieved a 98 percent conviction rate.  In 1994 she served as corporation counsel for Wayne, and in 1996 she became the general counsel for the Detroit and Wayne County Stadium Authority.  As Wayne County Corporation Counsel, Granholm worked to reduce taxpayer-funded lawsuit payouts by 87 percent (Democratic Governors Association 2006).In 1999, Granholm first joined a ticket with Democratic candidate Geoffrey Fieger.

  Fieger lost the election but Granholm, a political unknown at that time, won the election for attorney general of Michigan.  She was the lone Democrat in a largely Republican administration. As Michigan’s first female attorney General, Granholm established the state’s first High Tech Crime Unit to prosecute Internet crimes.  Following the 9/11, she led a multi-agency effort to ensure that Michigan laws could effectively be used to fight terrorism at the state level.

  She also cracked down on gas stations gouging consumers at the pump, and started a successful statewide mentoring initiative (Thomson Gale 2006; Democratic Governors Association 2006)            In 2006, Granholm ran for re-elections against Republican candidate Dick DeVos.  Again, Granholm emerged victorious over a Republican opponent.2006 Campaign            In her 2006 campaign, Granholm had several proposed ethics reforms which contrasted directly with DeVos’,  Granholm focused on primarily on financial disclosure, political-contribution-free zones in government buildings, ban paid speaking fees, ethics in state contracting, the New Legislative Ethics Act, lobbying bans, robo-call disclosure, and lobbyist funded activities.            With regard to financial disclosure, Granholm proposed for a comprehensive disclosure for all state elected officials and candidates of financial and business interests and holdings.  She also proposed that all candidates for Governor release tax returns for thee past 3 years.  As to political-contribution-free zones in government buildings, Granholm proposed a prohibition on candidates or agents from accepting or soliciting political contributions in government buildings, and prohibiting lobbyists or agents from delivering political contributions to government buildings as well.

  She also proposed to extend the ban on paid speaking fees (the Democratic Party 2006).Granholm also emphasized ethics in state contracting by eliminating no-bid contracts, prohibiting state contract managers from soliciting or accepting political contributions from state vendors, requiring contract managers to disclose conflicts of interest in writing and abstain when a conflict of interest exists, and prohibiting state contract managers from seeking/negotiating job offers from state vendors.  As to the New Legislative Ethics Act, Granholm called for the creation of clear standards on ethics and conflicts of interest for legislators, and required legislators with conflict of interest to disclose conflict in writing and abstain from voting or chairing committee hearings relating to conflict.  She also proposed the creation of new bipartisan legislative ethics committee to enforce compliance of the Act and include penalties for violations (The Democratic Party 2006).            Similarly, the also proposed for the New Ethics Act for Executive Branch Officials and Employees.  It involved the creation of clear standards on ethics and conflicts of interest for elected executive branch officials and employees, requiring written disclosure of conflicts of interests, and enhancing the powers of the State Board of Ethics and requiring referral of criminal matters to prosecutors (The Democratic Party 2006).As to reforms on the lobbying ban, Granholm proposed a prohibition on elected officials or state department directors from lobbying one year after leaving government.  She also proposed requiring full disclosure of recorded telephone communications (robo-call) in elections, including who paid for and authorized such calls.

  Finally, Granholm’s platform required full financial disclosure of lobbyist funded activities (The Democratic Party 2006).Democrats’ Success            The 2006 re-election of Granholm and Senator Debbie Stabenow were seen as critical in the prospective ouster of Michigan Republican from their State Party Chair.  Unity in the Republican Party was supposed to revolve around Job One, but intra-party conflict was prevalent even before all the votes had been cast in the recent elections.  The Republican defeat in the elections dealt a hard blow on the party.  In addition to holding onto the Senate seat and the Governor’s mansion (despite DeVos’ $40 million attempt to take it), Michigan Democrats made enough gains at the State House level to take back that Chamber and picked up an additional seat in the State Senate (Russo 2006).In addition to these victories, the Michigan Democrats also picked up the following local victories: the party picked up new majorities on 7 county commissions and picked up 44 seats in 33 different counties.  According to the 2005 US Census’ population estimates, 5,650,050 people or 55.

8 percent of Michigan’s population no live in counties with majority Democratic county commissions (Russo 2006).            Granholm herself has a list of achievements to her name since she was first elected governor in a Republican-dominated administration.  Since taking office in November 2002, she resolved more than $4 billion in budget deficits, trimming more from state government than any other governor in the state’s history.  Her top two priorities were clear: growing Michigan’s economy and maintaining the state’s high quality of life.

  It also helped that Granholm was a very sharp and thorough financial manager (Democratic Governors Association 2006).            Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow were Granholm’s primary economic agenda for the state.  This strategy aimed at creating thousands of jobs for Michigan workers this year by accelerating infrastructure projects, training unemployed workers for high-demand jobs, and diversifying the state’s economy through an unprecedented $2 billion Jobs for Michigan Fund.  Granholm’s economic strategy has so far been successful.  The state continues to attract new business, with small firms growing by 2,400 in 2004, and seven companies opening new headquarters in 2005.  Direct action by the state also helped to create and retain 130,000 jobs (Democratic Governors Association 2006).            On prioritizing the improvement of her constituents’ quality of life, Granholm expanded health coverage for 300,000 uninsured Michiganians through new federally-qualified health care centers in Jackson and Detroit.  She also saved the state an estimated $40 million in 2003 when she introduced the nation’s first bulk-buying pool for prescription drugs.

  In 2004, Granholm extended those savings to citizens by introducing the MiRX Card, which provides discount prescription drugs to uninsured families.  And since 2003, the governor has enrolled nearly 50,000 additional children for health insurance through the Healthy Kids and MiCHILD programs.  She also staged a sting on retailers who sold adult-rated video games to minors and pressured Abercrombie & Fitch to stop selling its sexually explicit catalog to minors in Michigan (Democratic Governors Association 2006; Clift 2006).            Granholm has also increased spending for Michigan’s public schools.  In 2005, classrooms in Michigan received a record funding at levels promised by the previous administration.

  She also challenged state universities to hold the line on tuition increases and has proposed a first-in-the-nation program that would award $4,000 to every Michigan student who completes two years of post-secondary education.  Being the first person in her family who went to college, Granholm has always been a staunch champion of education.  In addition, she also serves as Chair of the National Governors Association Health and Human Services Committee (Democratic Governors Association 2006).            Michigan has always been is a key battleground state and having a Democratic governor has caused waves in the state’s political arena.  It helped that Granholm is known for getting the job done, and is very popular among Michigan voters for her independent, no-nonsense style.  In a Democratic Party looking for new leaders, the governor from Michigan is slated for stardom.  To manage expectations in a state that hasn’t had a Democratic governor in over a decade, Granholm took to being brutally candid to buy herself some time to deal with the economic crisis she had to face at the start of her first term.

  Despite being immersed in a Republican legislature, Granholm remains optimistic and holds on to a 79-page blueprint for Michigan’s future which she refers to as “The Plan”  (Clift 2006).  And judging from her re-election this year, it seems Michigan constituents are ready to go along with that plan.Fundraising Activities            The figures pertaining to the fundraising activity of Granholm and her Republican gubernatorial opponent Dick DeVos for the 2006 election showed a vast difference in numbers.

   The Granholm campaign raised $4.9 million in 2005, and started 2006 with nearly $5.13 million in cash on hand.

  On the other hand, DeVos raised $1.84 million, most of it in the past few months.  The Kent County businessman contributed an estimated $776,000 of his own money to the campaign, and other family members chipped in as well.  The DeVos campaign started 2006 with $369,276 of cash on hand.  DeVos also reported in-kind contributions of $83,352 in 2005, which would put his campaign at a total of $1.92 million (The Michigan Daily 2006).            The Granholm campaign was reported to have received donations from more than 10,700 contributors.

  Granholm had the fundraising advantage of incumbency, and has also traditionally done well with labor unions and other Democratic-leaning organizations when it comes to raising campaign cash.  However, the DeVos campaign was expected to eventually outspend the Granholm campaign by using the family’s own wealth, thereby leaving the Granholm campaign with some competitive advantage (The Michigan Daily 2006).            The 2006 elections were deemed the most expensive governor’s race in Michigan history.  At the end of the campaign period, DeVos’ campaign was reported to have raised more than $41 million, most of it from his own money’s family.

  Granholm’s campaign totaled at nearly $14 million at the end of the campaign period (Martin 2006).            From August 29, 2006 through Sunday that week, DeVos raised nearly $20 million and reported nearly $2 million in cash on hand as of Sunday.  He contributed about $35 million of his own money as of October 20, 2006.

  The DeVos campaign also reported receiving money from more than 26,000 donors, which the campaign pointed out showed broad support for the GOP challenger.  They reported that their campaign had the highest number of donors of any previous challenger in a Michigan gubernatorial race.  DeVos’ campaign also did not accept money from political action committees representing special interest groups (Martin 2006).

            On the other hand, the Granholm campaign rebuts DeVos’ claims by stating that it had more than 30,000 donors and more than $4 million in cash on hand at the end of the campaign period.  The campaign reported raising more than $2 million in private funds from August to September of 2006, and receiving about $1.1 million in public matching funds.

  The Granholm campaign also received an estimated $34,000 donation limit from political action committees affiliated with Planned Parenthood of Michigan, EMILY’s List, Michigan Credit Union, CMS Energy, and Workers Local Union 25 (Martin 2006).            It should be noted that Governor Granholm, apart from election fundraising, has herself been very active in fundraising activities during her term as attorney general and prior to her re-election this year.  In 2000, as then attorney general, Granholm led the fight to pass the Children’s Product Safety Act in Michigan.  It became the second state after Illinois to adopt this lifesaving measure.  In April 19, 2005, Kids in Danger presented their 2005 Best Friend Award to Granholm for her active support in the program (Kids in Danger 2005).            In September 8, 2005, during her first term as governor, Granholm announced that over 200 radio and television stations will be participating in a statewide on-air fundraiser to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.  The fundraiser was organized by the Michigan Association for Broadcasters, with the proceeds also going to the American Red Cross.

  It was dubbed as the “Michigan Cares/Michigan Gives” and was intended to move the people of Michigan to support their fellow citizens at home and across the country.  It was a statewide effort to encourage the people of Michigan to benefit the relief and recovery efforts of the American Red Cross.  During the on-air fundraiser, broadcasters encouraged listeners to call the American Red Cross relief hotline or visit their website to donate funds (Office of the Governor – Michigan 2005).

            Granholm also updated Michigan’s relief efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.  The Michigan Army and Air National Guard deployed more than 600 soldiers and airmen in support of hurricane efforts.  The Michigan State Police also deployed almost 100 law enforcement officers to Louisiana, and the Department of Natural Resourced deployed 25 flat bottom boats and 50 certified law enforcement officers to go door-to-door in search and rescue missions (Office of the Governor – Michigan 2005).            Michigan citizens themselves continued to call the state’s hurricane relief hotline to donate goods, services, and money (Office of the Governor – Michigan 2005).

            As re-elected governor, Granholm has continued in participating in fundraising activities, this time for public services purposes and not merely for raising campaign money.  Muhammad Ali endorsed Granholm for re-election for her support of stem cell research.  Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the 1980s, one of the conditions that scientists hope to cure through stem cell research (Josar 2006).

            Granholm advocated lifting a ban limiting the use of stem cells and wants to expand that research in her state (Josar 2006).Conclusion            Granholm entered the governorship in Michigan with the expectation of much resistance from the predominantly Republican administration.  However, her solid performance as attorney general and during her first term as governor, contributed greatly to her re-election, and has put her in the spotlight as one of the emerging leaders of the Democratic Party.   Her campaign platform focused primarily on two priorities: improving Michigan economy and maintaining the high quality of life among her constituents.  Landmark reforms in political campaigning and lobbying, education, and health were major contributions by Granholm for her state.            Fundraising during Granholm’s campaign period resulted in an amount less than her opponent DeVos’, but Granholm enjoyed donations from trade unions and special interest groups.  Before and during her re-election, Granholm herself has remained very active in various fundraising, charitable activities not only for her home state but in aid of other citizens in the country.WORKS CITED2.

Jennifer Granholm, candidate for the people, by the people, always putting Michigan first.  The Democratic Party. 2006. 29 Nov. 2006. http://www.democrats.

org/a/local/midwest/michigan/Biography.  Office of the Governor – Michigan.  2006. 29 Nov. 2006.,1607,7-168–57920–,00.

htmlGovernor Jennifer Granholm.  Democratic Governors Association. 2006. 29 Nov. 2006. Mulhern Granholm.  Thomson Gale.  Women’s History.

  2006. 29 Nov. 2006.

htmRusso, Tracy.  MI GOP in Disarray Too?  Liberal, Loud and Proud.  16 Nov.

2006. 29 Nov. 2006.

htmlGranholm, DeVos report fundraising earnings.  The Michigan Daily. 1 Feb.

2006. 29 Nov. 2006.


shtml?norewrite200611291331&sourcedomain=www.michigandaily.comMartin, Tim. DeVos’ $41M fundraising effort outpaces Granholm’s $14M.  Lansing State Journal. 28 Oct. 2006.  29 Nov.

2006., Eleanor.  Jennifer Granholm: Brainy, Blond and Ready to Rumble.  Newsweek.

MSNBC. 28 Oct. 2006.

29 Nov. 2006. http://www.msnbc., David.  Ali is in Granholm’s corner. The Detroit News. 5 Oct. 2006. 29 Nov.

2006. Best Friend Award Fundraiser. Kids in Danger.

19 Apr. 2005. 28 Nov. 2006.

aspGovernor Granholm Announces Statewide “Michigan Cares/Michigan Gives” On-Air Fund Raising Drive.  Office of the Governor – Michigan.  8 Sept. 2005. 29 Nov. 2006.,1607,7-168-23442_21974-125820–,00.html 


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