Why Whitmer Will Wait Till ‘28

The Time Is Not Now
Photo of a black swan in a lake.

Months ago, the Late Replacement Theory—that Democrats would replace Joe Biden as their 2024 presidential candidate—was viewed as a conspiracy. Fans of possible replacements, like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or California Gov. Gretchen Newsom, tended to whisper their candidate’s name, not shout it.

After Biden’s performance in that first debate with Trump, there are no quiet parts. Everything is being said out loud. In the space of 90 minutes, the Democrat Party went from “blue no matter who” to #NeverBiden. 

With the eyes of the world watching, Weekend at Biden showed up to the debate stage—he with the faint voice and the blank stare. He showed himself unfit for command in a way that couldn’t be spun or yada yada’d away. Though the Democrats did try, by telling us first that Biden had a cold; then, that a 9 p.m. debate kept him up past his bedtime.

After debate night, the Late Replacement Theory entered the realm of conventional wisdom. 

When people spoke Gretchen Whitmer’s name as a Biden replacement, they didn’t whisper it anymore. They shouted it online, and they spoke her name on TV. They said the thing: She’s Running.

But Gretchen Whitmer will not be the Democrats’ savior. Not in 2024, and not in 2028 either. Nobody in Lansing is allowed to tell you this, so I will.

This is the case against Big Gretch becoming the Dem’s 2024 presidential candidate.

Listen to Kaylee McGhee White on the Enjoyer Podcast with James Dickson.

First, Biden is still the best the Democrats have. Outside of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, name another Democrat with the national reach of Joe Biden. There isn’t one, and those guys have no more eligibility.

This campaign season, more than most, has seen lamentations from all sides. From Republicans and Democrats alike, the consensus is a question: “This is the best we can do?”

In a word, yes. 

In theory, there are about 250 million Americans who could be president, but in reality, the list is much shorter. Parties love to tout their “deep bench” of possible candidates, but many of them will fizzle out on the national stage.

Now consider the context of a Whitmer swap. If Whitmer runs atop a ticket in 2024, that would mean that both Biden and VP Kamala Harris have been pushed out. That means Whitmer would not merely be a candidate, she would be a savior, brought in to do what a 50-year veteran of politics could not.

There would be excitement as “That Woman from Michigan” hit the national stage. We know her well, but she’s just an image to most Americans. That she’s a vaguely good-looking woman with a midwestern sort of vibe is all they know.

Imagine their horror when they nominate Whitmer, she goes to give her acceptance speech, then they hear that nasally voice and realize their hero, Big Gretch, is really Sarah Palin in a blue dress. (Ideally, the blue dress from that State of the State speech.)

Take it from me, Democrats. Biden is stronger than he looks, and Whitmer is not your savior.

Second, there’s that Kamala Harris problem. We’re coming up on the 70th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. If Rosa Parks refused to take a back seat in 1955, what makes you think Kamala Harris will take one in 2024?

Take it from me, Democrats. Biden is stronger than he looks, and Whitmer is not your savior.

Democrats love this racial hierarchy and bought into it eagerly. Back in summer 2020, Whitmer planted a story that she declined further vetting for the VP spot, telling Biden he should nominate a black woman.

Kamala Harris is that black woman. She’s not going anywhere. 

Remember that Sarah Palin problem? Now imagine that the impossible has happened. Perhaps Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all pile into the camper. Perhaps they drive to Delaware to reason with Biden. Perhaps they issue oblique warnings about “the right side of history,” and contrast that to how Biden would be viewed as a hero by stepping aside now.

Let’s say these things are all said, and they work. Biden drops out! Congrats, now how will you get Harris out? 

The Biden campaign sent out an email recently, laying out how Biden replacements would do against Trump. The two top vote-getters, the polling found, were Biden and Harris, who post identical 45-to-48 losses against Trump, with four months to go.

Everybody else pulls in less support. Whitmer and Newsom both pull 44% and would face greater numbers of unknown voters.

Third, if it turns out Biden is literally unable to serve as president, the fact is that Whitmer should have said something about it earlier. Whitmer is Biden’s campaign co-chair. If anyone outside of Jill Biden and Kamala Harris should have been aware of Biden’s condition, it’s her.

If Biden is unable, and the Washington media were honest, both Whitmer and Harris would be due for a round of “who knew what when?” questioning. It’s unlikely that Whitmer could survive such a thing, given she’s only just dipped her toes in the swamp. 

If Gretchen Whitmer had spent years laying in wait, if she had watched Weekend at Biden sleep his way through the presidency, all in the hope of taking his chair at his weakest moment, that’s a “bad look,” as the Dems themselves are so fond of saying.

The American people are sleepy and don’t follow the news closely. But a black swan event, like a sitting president withdrawing from a race just four months before Election Day, would get people’s attention.

It would raise questions that the media, Team Biden, and Biden’s replacement would not want to answer. It would not be a smooth transition. In many circles, that person would become a marked man or woman from day one.

In 2008, Barack Obama jumped the line ahead of Hillary Clinton. But he endeared himself to voters by winning their votes. He went through the fire and came out the nominee. In short, Obama earned it.

That’s a different dynamic than naming Gretchen Whitmer the heir apparent and placing a crown atop her head. 

Big Gretch will get her day in the sun eventually. But not in 2024, not if she’s smart. 

History tells me she is. In 2014 in Michigan, Democrats hated Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Yet when it came time to find a standard-bearer in 2014, their bench was thinner than they thought. A former congressman named Mark Schauer was nominated as the sacrificial lamb, and Whitmer declined to join him on the ticket.

Four years later, without that loss on her record, Whitmer ran for governor and won. 

History says we’ll have to wait till ‘28 to see Whitmer on the national stage.

James David Dickson is an independent journalist in Michigan and the host of The Enjoyer Podcast. Follow him on X at @downi75.

Be sure to also check out Kaylee McGhee White’s stance on Whitmer’s potential candidacy here.

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