Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saving Her Energy

When Richard Nixon ran for President in 1968 after six years out of public life and living in California, a popular slogan described him as "The New Nixon: Tanned, Rested, and Ready."

State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) announced recently that she was running for Michigan attorney general. I can't comment on her tan or her readiness, but after eight years of doing nothing in the legislature, she should certainly be well-rested.

Using the state's legislature website, I searched records going back to 2001, Whitmer's first year in the House. I examined every bill for which she was the primary sponsor. In the House and Senate to date, Whitmer has sponsored 128 bills. Of these, a grand total of 3 made it to a vote, and 2 were passed. The third was defeated 81-22 in the House. She has not had a single bill make it to a vote since June 29, 2005.

If you're keeping score at home, that's 2 passed bills out of 128 attempts, which is a .015 batting average, enough to make Hank Aguirre blush.

So, there's no substantial accomplishment as a legislator in terms of quantity. But is the quality there? Has her legislation been of such monumental importance that we can forgive its infrequency?

In the words of Ted Kennedy, "Ah, no."

Whitmer's first legislative triumph was in 2004, when she sponsored HB 4703. From the Floor Analysis of the bill:

The bill would amend the Public Health Code to increase construction permit and license fees for campgrounds and public swimming pools. It also would create the "Campground Fund" and the "Swimming Pool Fund". (Punctuation in original).
So, a tax increase. Oh, excuse me -- a fee increase.

The following year, still recovering from the heady success of soaking Michigan's campground and swimming pool operators, Whitmer sponsored HB 4405. From the Floor Analysis of this bill:

The bill would amend the Public Health Code to eliminate the authority of a disciplinary subcommittee to impose sanctions against a pharmacist for employing the mail to sell, distribute, or deliver a drug that requires a prescription when the prescription for the drug is received by mail.
In other words, the bill permitted a pharmacist to mail out prescribed drugs when the prescription was received by mail.

Wow. That bill ranks right up there with the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Charta.

Two bills in four years! Raising taxes, er, fees, and letting pharmacists mail out prescriptions in certain cases -- woo hoo! Such success would certainly motivate a person to continue the trend, right?


Since June of 2005, Whitmer hasn't gotten a single bill to a vote. 70 bills in a row, referred to committee, never to be heard from again. Oh-for-seventy. An average of .000. If the 2008 Detroit Lions were a legislator, they would be Gretchen Whitmer.

And now she wants to be attorney general. Announcing her candidacy, Whitmer said, "Michigan families work hard and play by the rules. We need an attorney general who puts people first."

How about an attorney general who works hard, has a record of leadership and good judgment, and has demonstrated the ability to get things done? How about an attorney general with some experience in law enforcement or the courtroom?

We don't need someone who simply occupies space waiting for the next electoral opportunity -- we need someone who gets things done. By that standard and almost every imaginable standard, Whitmer fails.

As my kids would say, epic fail.


  1. You either don’t understand how state government works or you are being dishonest? As for her tan; it’s OK, but it doesn’t rival Mike Bishop’s.

    Gretchen Whitmer will never get a bill through the Senate, and you just proved why. They are making sure none of her bills move so people like you can make the ridiculous claim that she is ineffective because she can’t move a bill the Senate. Republicans tried the same thing with Kathy Anger a few years ago when she unseated an incumbent Republican, but people saw through the ploy like they will with Sen. Whitmer The fact is almost zero bills sponsored by Democrats are ever considered in Senate. For Senate Republicans it has always been more about politics and keeping power than good government.

    Whitmer served in the House when Republicans controlled the House.

  2. Forget AG - she should be the Democrat nominee for Govenor. Another attractive gal ready to pick up right where Jenny left off!

  3. Your blog seems to have a conservative bend. So why then do you accept the liberal line that bills sponsored and enacted are a valid measure of legislator productivity?

  4. To Anon and Guru -- Thanks for reading and commenting.

    First, I do not believe that bills sponsored and enacted -- by themselves -- are valid measures of productivity, although they are some kind of measure. My point is that Whitmer did nothing, while effective legislators find ways to bridge the aisle with wise, well-considered legislation. The alternatives to good legislation are either bad legislation or none at all. I have previously blogged on Whitmer's dumb proposals, and this blog shows that she has not found a way to get any ideas, let alone good ones, through the Senate.

    So, if you like, you can say that Whitmer is a good senator, but what is the evidence for that? And you could also say that she will make a good attorney general, but what is the evidence supporting that conclusion?

    There isn't any such evidence in the public record -- that is my point.