Whitmer grew to national prominence last year as she established some of the nation's most stringent COVID-19 limitations at the start of the pandemic. For a while, she was considered as a running mate for Joe Biden throughout his 2020 campaign.
Though her approval rating in the state has fallen since last year. In September 2020, a poll by the Glengariff Group discovered 59% of voters approve of Whitmer’s job performance. That number fell to 50% in May and fell again this month to 48%. The polling reveals that dip comes primarily from independent voters, who typically decide Michigan’s elections.
Other surveys in the state confer an increasingly tight race between Whitmer and Republican opponent James Craig.
This week, Whitmer and the Legislature agreed to a budget proposal before their Oct. 1 deadline that includes a provision preventing local health officials from implementing school mask mandates, leaving those choices to local school boards. The budget would further ban public agencies in the state from demanding vaccinations for their employees.
Whitmer has indicated the proposal is still under review for specifics by her staff, and she may exercise her line-item veto on the provision.
Whitmer has further not re-implemented a statewide mask mandate notwithstanding a surge in COVID cases in Michigan.
Republican strategist Jason Roe told the Washington Examiner that Whitmer “put in place draconian policies when she wasn’t running.”
“Now that she’s running for reelection, she’ll defer to the locals,” Roe announced.
Roe added that while COVID limitations are only one issue facing Michigan voters, if Whitmer continues to lose ground with independents, it could be “lethal” for her reelection bid.
In a statement this week touting the budget deal, Whitmer said she was “thrilled that the legislature and I were able to come together to agree on a bipartisan budget.”
“Our collaboration is a testament to what's possible when we work together and put our families, communities, and small businesses first," Whitmer stated.