Gretchen Whitmer, current governor of Michigan


Our staff amassed a list of the 150 Michiganians who most affected the news, history and our lives − for better or worse − in the 150 years of The Detroit News, ranked from 150 to 1 (Read the FAQ on our selection process here). Here are our picks, one a day through our birthday on Aug. 23.

47: Gretchen Whitmer, current governor of Michigan (1971 to present)

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the reopening of the Book Tower, in Detroit, June 8, 2023.

Halfway through Gretchen Whitmer’s first term as governor, the state was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whitmer joined other governors in declaring a state of emergency and imposing broad shutdowns on Michigan businesses and residents. She set health care reform and a promise to “fix the damn roads” as her first term priorities. She was elected to a second term in 2022 by a large margin, running on a strong pro-choice platform. The Democrat served in the Michigan House from 2001 to 2006 and the Michigan Senate from 2006 to 2015, when she was term-limited out. Whitmer was the first woman to serve as Democratic leader of the Senate. In 2020 her name was floated as a potential running mate for President Joe Biden.

▶ About The News:About The News: 150 Detroit News facts in 150 days

48: William Milliken, Michigan’s longest serving governor (1922-2019)

Governor William Milliken holds a press conference to announce his retirement from public office, Dec. 12, 1981.

William Milliken served three full terms and one partial term as governor from 1969 to 1983, making him the longest serving governor in state history. He served one term in the Michigan Senate from Traverse City before being tapped by Republican Gov. George Romney to be his lieutenant governor. When Romney resigned in 1969 to become HUD secretary, Millien took over as governor.

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