LANSING, Mich.—Though a favorite punching bag for conservative media personalities and the object of several recall petition efforts by her own citizens, Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is very popular with big donors.
Campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan secretary of state show that from Jan. 1 to July 20, Whitmer raised a nonelection-year record of $8.6 million dollars in campaign contributions, with $1,250,000 coming from just five donors, three of whom are from outside Michigan.
Among the highest contributors was Illinois Democratic governor and billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who gave Whitmer’s campaign $250,000. The Stryker sisters, Patricia and Ronda, both wealthy heiresses, philanthropists, and progressive activists, donated $250,000 each toward Whitmer’s reelection. Samson Energy and Granite Properties chair Stacy Schusterman of Oklahoma chipped in $250,000, as did Detroit area attorney Mark Bernstein.
Pritzker, Patricia Stryker, and Stacy Schusterman don’t reside in Michigan.
Four individuals contributed $100,000 each to the Whitmer campaign, three of whom reside outside of Michigan. One of the two donors who gave $75,000 is from out of state. Two out of the three donors who each gave $20,000 aren’t Michigan residents. Both donors who gave $15,000 are from out of state. And 30 out of the 44 contributors who donated $10,000 aren’t from Michigan.
Ironically, it was the effort to recall Whitmer that made possible this tremendous surge of large campaign donations. Michigan law limits an individual contribution to a candidate for governor to $7,150, but a quirk in the interpretation of the law by a former secretary of state dating back to the early 1980s removes the $7,150 cap for a governor defending against a recall petition drive.
Ninety-three of Whitmer’s donors listed on the report gave more than $7,150 each. These donations accounted for 43 percent of the $8.6 million Whitmer raised.
Mark Fisk, a spokesman for the Whitmer campaign, said in a statement, “This unprecedented fundraising achievement is even more remarkable given the early and unprecedented attacks from national groups, special interests, and other extremists trying to distort the governor’s record and lie to the people of Michigan.”
Garrett Soldano, a Kalamazoo chiropractor who gained notoriety as a leader of the successful statewide attempt to curb Whitmer’s use of emergency executive power during the pandemic, has emerged as the leading fundraiser among a half dozen GOP candidates for governor. According to his campaign contributions report, Soldano has raised $624,847 since announcing his candidacy in April.
In contrast to Whitmer’s contributions, Soldano said, “ours are all pure grassroots. Ninety-three percent of our 10,000 donations are under $200. No PAC money, no dark money. She [Whitmer] can raise $500 million; it’s not going to matter to the voters. She has hurt so many people. She has shut down so many businesses.”
In what could be a veiled reference to former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who only recently entered the race and has not yet begun to fundraise, Soldano told The Epoch Times, “The party bosses think they get to decide who the next Republican nominee for governor will be, but they’re wrong. That’s up to we the people.”
Several recent polls show Whitmer’s approval rating still hovering around 50 percent despite the frequent attacks and the widely publicized violations of her own lockdown orders when she visited a crowded bar and flew to Florida.