Jennifer Granholm

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Jennifer Granholm
Governor of Michigan
Former officeholder
In office
PredecessorJohn Engler
Bachelor'sUniversity of California, Berkeley
J.D.Harvard Law School
Date of birthFebruary 5, 1959
Jennifer Mulhern Granholm (b. February 5, 1959) is a Canadian-born American politician and the former Governor of the U.S. state of Michigan. A member of the Democratic Party, Granholm became Michigan's first female governor on January 1, 2003, when she succeeded Governor John Engler. Granholm was re-elected on November 7, 2006 and was sworn in for her second term on January 1, 2007. Due to Michigan's term limits, that was Granholm's final term.

Early life and career

Granholm was born to Shirley Alfreda Dowden and Victor Ivar Granholm.[1] She has some Finnish and Swedish ancestors who were born in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland.[2] Her family moved to California when she was four.[3] She grew up in Anaheim, San Jose and San Carlos.[4] Granholm graduated from San Carlos High School, located in San Carlos, California, in 1977.[3] She won the Miss San Carlos beauty pageant.[4] As a young adult she attempted to launch a Hollywood acting career but was unsuccessful and she abandoned her efforts at the age of 21.[3] She held jobs as a tour guide at Universal Studios, within customer service for the Los Angeles Times and was the first female tour guide at Marine World Africa USA in Redwood City, piloting boats with 25 tourists aboard.[4] In 1980, she became a United States citizen and worked for John Anderson's independent run for U.S. President, and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from UC-Berkeley in 1984 Phi Beta Kappa with two BA degrees, one in political science, the other in French. Granholm then earned a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School, also with honors. She clerked for U.S. Judge Damon Keith on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1986 she married current First Gentleman Daniel Mulhern, a Michigan native, and took his surname as her middle name; they have three children: Kathryn, Cecelia, and Jack. In 1990 she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. In 1994, she was appointed Wayne County Corporation Counsel.

Granholm, like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was once a contestant on the daytime television game show The Dating Game.[5]

Michigan Attorney General

Granholm was elected Michigan Attorney General in 1998, defeating the Republican nominee, John Smietanka, 52 percent – 48 percent. She was the first woman to hold that position, serving for four years (1999–2002) and focusing on protecting citizens and consumers, and establishing Michigan's first HighTech Crime Unit. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Granholm directed state agencies to work with lawmakers in keeping the fight against terrorism within the powers of the state. She also imposed a regulation on gasoline dealers to keep them from raising prices dramatically, something which occurred sporadically across Michigan immediately following the attacks.

Campaign for Governor

In the 2002 election, she defeated former Governor James Blanchard and House Democratic Whip David Bonior in the Democratic primary, and then went on to win the general election against the Republican nominee, Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus, to become governor.

Granholm was accused in the 2002 Democratic primary of several allegations of cronyism while working as Wayne County Corporation Counsel.

Her husband, Daniel Mulhern, had received several contracts for his leadership training company shortly after Granholm left her position as a Wayne County Corporation Counsel in 1998. He received nearly $300,000 worth of contracts, despite being the highest bidder for one of those contracts. Opponents criticized Granholm supporters for engaging in cronyism and giving contracts to her husband immediately after leaving county employment. Granholm and her supporters responded that no ethical violations occurred and that Mulhern had earned the contracts on his own merits.[6]

Former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard and former Representative David Bonior faced Granholm in the Democratic primary and criticized her handling of contracting procedures at Detroit Metro Airport. Granholm was Wayne County Corporation Counsel when the questionable corporate contracts on two parking projects took place from "an apparent pattern of cronyism and no-bid contracts," which prompted investigation by the FBI and by state and local auditors. She ordered a review as State Attorney General. Blanchard and Bonior criticized her for "reviewing" the project rather than ordering a full investigation, and Bonior insisted that Granholm should remove herself from the case. Granholm defended that she had taken the appropriate action and continued to oversee the review.[7][8][9]

Shortly before the 2002 gubernatorial election, a memo was released to reporters from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick addressed to Granholm. It asked that, in exchange for his support and Detroit votes, Granholm must provide jobs and appointments for Detroit natives. The memo proposed numerous specific ways that Granholm could help if elected, including ensuring that 20 percent of new political appointees were African-American. Granholm’s opponent, Republican Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus, publicly denounced the “corrupt pact” between Kilpatrick and Granholm. She said that she had never seen the memo, and she stated that she would never “respond to those kinds of demands.” In addition, Kilpatrick said he had not written the memo or signed off on its terms.[10]


Granholm was sworn in as the 47th Governor of the state of Michigan on January 1, 2003. The main issue facing the governor has been the massive budget deficit. Granholm has had to eliminate upwards of $200 per person from state budget expenditures. She has emphasized the need for the state to attract young people and businesses to Michigan. As Governor, she is a member of the National Governors Association and Policy Chairwoman of the Democratic Governors Association. She lives in the official Michigan Governor's Residence located near the Capitol Building.

In 2003, Granholm ran five miles across the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the state's two peninsulas, in 47 minutes during the Mackinac Bridge Walk. Her run began a new tradition, and 2004 saw the first annual Governor’s Labor Day Bridge Run[11] held hours before the Annual Bridge Walk. This time she finished the run in under 45 minutes. After joining her husband Daniel Mulhern for the last two miles of his October 24, 2004 Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank Marathon run, Granholm remarked, "I would love to run a marathon before I'm 50."

During Granholm’s first year in office, she made a significant number of budget cuts. She was upset by proposals to cut state funding to social welfare programs, such as homeless shelters and mental health agencies. During an interview, she reflected on the proper perspective of budget cuts:

"Often those who cloak themselves in a cape of religiosity happen to be some who are the biggest cutters. Now, some of that can balance out. But when you get to cutting the services for the least of these -- in the 25th chapter of Matthew in the 37th verse the Lord says, 'Whatsoever you do to the least of these, so also you do unto me' -- that's when I question whether somebody is really living out the faith that they profess." The interviewer noted that Granholm would be criticized, but she hoped that everyone would “keep those values in mind . . .through the budget process.” Betsy DeVos, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party (1996–2000, 2003–05), was upset that Granholm had decided “to cloak her views on balancing the budget in religious terms in order to demonize her political opponents.” Granholm responded that she did not think her response was controversial, and she said that many people of faith are serving in state government.[12]

At an awards ceremony on October 28, 2004, Granholm was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. She has also been the recipient of the Michigan Jaycees 1999 "Outstanding Young Michiganders" and the YWCA "Woman of the Year" awards.

In February 2005, Michigan's Republican-dominated Legislature refused to vote on Granholm's proposed state budget, citing concerns over cuts to state funding for higher education.[13] In the previous years of Granholm's term, many cuts to higher education had been demanded and voted in the Legislature in order to balance the state budget. The year before, Republican leaders had called Granholm a "do-nothing Governor", claiming that she failed to lead, while Democrats accused legislative Republicans of being obstructionist. In January 2005, Granholm presented an early budget proposal, demanded immediate response from the Legislature, and held a press conference outlining the highlights of the proposed budget. After refusing to consider, debate, or vote on the proposed budget, Republicans stated they would prefer that the Legislature have more involvement in the formation of the state budget.[14]

In March 2005, Granholm sought to withhold awarding scholarships earned through the MEAP scholarship program in order to trim an estimated $9 million from the state budget. The program awards $500 college scholarships to 11th-grade students that perform well on the MEAP standardized test. Granholm argued that the state had no internal means of determining which students had earned the scholarships. After much criticism, notably from the Detroit Free Press, local area lawyers, and parents (who claimed to have received, and did produce, official letters promising the money), she awarded the students their scholarships, though the state's budget difficulties remained unresolved. Liz Boyd, a representative for Granholm, said though “In many regards, it was a hollow promise made by the Engler administration. They cut revenue and didn’t cut spending and we are still reeling from the effects of those decisions today.”[15]

Granholm left for Japan on July 22, 2005, along with Michigan State University president Lou Anna K. Simon, and Department of Labor and Economic Growth Director (and former Lansing mayor) David Hollister. Their trip was planned, for the purpose of emphasizing Michigan as "the North American intersection of cutting-edge research, life sciences talent and high-tech innovation."They met with Shiga Prefecture Governor Yoshitsu Kunimatsu, Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe and the representatives of 150 Japanese automotive, biotech, and human sciences companies. On the first day of the five-day trip, July 25, Granholm led a seminar of 65 Japanese auto-related companies at the 2005 World Expo in Nagakute, Aichi. On July 26, Granholm met with DENSO Corp. (employing 4,500 workers in Michigan) President and CEO Koichi Fukaya at the company's D-Square facility in Kariya, Aichi. Granholm then met with Gov. Yoshitsu Kunimatsu aboard the Michigan paddlewheel boat on Shiga's Lake Biwa, Japan's largest freshwater lake. Like the Great Lakes (which surround Michigan), Lake Biwa has a history of fighting against an influx of invasive species, the Prefecture paying bounties to fishermen and hiring 43 official catchers to curb the growth of species which threaten the natural freshwater ecosystem. Shiga Prefecture is Michigan's "sister state", selected in 1968 due to their similarity in sharing their nation's largest freshwater resource. Granholm returned to work in Michigan the next Monday.[16][17] She also signed a legislation to keep steroids out of schools and requiring school boards to write their own steroid policies, though the stance did not go as far as random drug testing of athletes.[18] She is trying to establish a $4000 scholarship for each Michigan college student.[19][20]

2006 campaign

Granholm ran for a second term in the 2006 election. Her opponents were Republican businessman and politician Dick DeVos, Libertarian Gregory Creswell, Green Douglas Campbell, and the Constitution (US Taxpayers) Party candidate Bhagwan Dashairya.[21]

The state's unemployment rate hovered around seven percent for much of her term. Additionally, Michigan ranked #49 in retaining young adults between 2000 and 2005, again attributed to the sluggish economy.[22][23]

Both the Granholm campaign and the Michigan Democratic Party put out television commercials which focused on her efforts to revive Michigan's economy and accused Dick DeVos of cutting Michigan jobs while he was head of what was then called Amway.[24]

Granholm won re-election, defeating DeVos. The margin (rounded to the nearest percent) was 56 percent (Granholm), 42 percent (DeVos), one percent (Gregory Creswell), one percent (Douglas Campbell) and one percent (Bhagwan Dashairya).[21] Granholm polled 4.9 percent higher than she did in her first gubernatorial election in 2002.

Second term

The 2006 elections saw a return to power by the Democrats in the Michigan State House of Representatives but the retention of Republican control over the Michigan Senate. The partisan division of power in Michigan's state government led to a showdown between Granholm and Republican lawmakers over the FY2008 state budget that resulted in a four-hour shutdown of non-essential state services in the early morning of October 1, 2007 until a budget was passed and signed.[25] The budget cut services, increased the state income tax and created a new set of service taxes on a variety of business activities, from ski lift tickets to interior design and landscaping, to address a state budget shortfall. As a result of the controversial budget, some taxpayer and business advocates called for a recall campaign against Granholm and lawmakers who voted for the tax increases.[26]

The budget crisis eventually led Standard & Poors to downgrade Michigan's credit rating from AA to AA-. Additionally, the crisis contributed to sinking approval ratings for Granholm, which stood at 43 percent in August 2007,[27] to a low of 32 percent in December 2007. The divided Michigan legislature received an even lower approval rating of 18 percent in the same poll.[28].

Granholm delivered her sixth State of the State address on January 29, 2008. The speech was focused mainly on creating jobs in Michigan's economy through bringing alternative energy companies to Michigan.[29] Through passing a renewable portfolio standard, which would require that by 2015, 10 percent of Michigan's energy would come from renewable sources and 25 percent by 2025, Granholm expects the alternative energy industry to emerge in Michigan.[30]

Michigan Film Incentives Program - Granholm also called in the speech for an incentive package to offer tax breaks to filmmakers who shoot in Michigan and use local crews in production. A package of bills offering film industry incentives was approved by both houses of the Michigan State Legislature and signed into law by Granholm on April 7, 2008.[31] It began to cause trouble in the private sector.

Partly because of pressure from Granholm, Michigan's Democratic presidential primary was moved up to January 15, leading the Democratic National Committee to strip the Michigan Democratic Party of its delegates (Michigan historically held its caucuses on February 9). Granholm has been named a likely candidate for United States Attorney General in any Democratic administration. She is currently the Policy Chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

In response to a May 14, 2008 resolution by the Detroit City Council to request that Granholm remove Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from office in response to eight (later ten) felony counts against him,[32] Granholm began an inquiry,[33] which culminated in a removal hearing on September 3, 2008.[34] On September 3, Granholm outlined the legal basis for the hearings, arguments were made and three witnesses were called.[35] In the morning of September 4, Kilpatrick agreed to two plea deals, pleading guilty to two counts of perjury and no contest to one count of assaulting and obstructing a police officer in two separate cases. Both of the deals required his resignation. When the hearing reconvened later that day, Granholm stated that the hearing would be adjourned until September 22 as a result of the plea deals; if Kilpatrick's resignation becomes effective before that date, the hearing would then be cancelled.[36]

An August 2008 poll marked Granholm's approval rating at 37 percent.[37]

In September of 2008, Gov. Granholm undertook the role of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in a series of practice debates with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden.[38]

Lame duck advice

Granholm wrote an op-ed for POLITICO in December 2010, saying the nation needs a "moon shot" jobs strategy to create 3 million new jobs. Granholm used as an example: Michigan government's recent bet that the lithium-ion battery industry should be cultivated with special treatment and favors from state government.

Granholm wrote: "If the states are the laboratories of democracy, Washington can take a lesson from what is happening in Michigan."

"I do think those facts about Michigan's high unemployment level and major job loss are fairly well known," said Politico Opinion Editor Allison Silver. "Most everyone has followed the implosion in the auto industry. That is one reason why the information about this new battery seemed interesting."[39]

Michigan Governor's Office lobbying

Research by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network showed that in 2008, the Governor's Office used $63,672 in lobbying and networking with other state politicians. [40]

Two departments of the Governor's Office also spent a significant amount of money on lobbying, and this money has increased from the last year. The Department of Environmental Quality has an increase in lobbying funds by 12% while the Governor's MI Economic Development Corporation expanded its' lobbying budget by 106%. [41]

Contact Info

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517-373-3400
Phone: 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services)
Fax: 517-335-6863


  1. Reitwiesner, William Addams. "The Ancestors of Jennifer Granholm". WARGS (Personal website of William Addams Reitwiesner).
  2. Skrivet av Elof Granholm. 'Loffes hemsida'. (website).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Detroit Free Press, 11/6/02, "Shes' the Boss - Granholm wins a place in history as Michigan Elects the state's first female governor".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) National Journal Group Inc.
  5. Clift, Eleano. "Jennifer Granholm: Brainy, Blond and Ready to Rumble". Newsweek (6 January 2007). MSNBC website. (Accessed 29 June 2007)
  6. Granholm supporters helped her husband secure Wayne County contracts by Chad Selweski, Macomb Daily, Jan. 13, 2002
  7. Hopefuls civil at last debate by Chris Christoff and Dawson Bell, Detroit Free Press, July 23, 2002
  8. Granholm zooms up in poll for governor by Chris Christoff, Detroit Free Press, Mar. 2, 2002
  9. Bonior asks for probe of Metro deals by Tina Lam and Dennis Niemiec, Detroit Free Press, Jan. 29, 2002
  10. Granholm denies a deal with Kilpatrick by Dawson Bell, Detroit Free Press, Oct. 1, 2002
  11. Governor’s Labor Day Bridge Run
  12. On cut, Granholm cites Bible, draws wrath by Dan Shine and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, Jan. 3, 2004
  13. Panels pass over Granholm plan to cut budget by Tim Martin, Lansing State Journal, Feb. 16, 2005
  14. Granholm-GOP impasse stalls her agenda by Chris Andrews, Lansing State Journal, Apr. 17, 2005
  15. Amanda Pennington, House speaker knocks Granholm on MEAP, Source: The Michigan Daily, Feb 25, 2005
  16. Granholm: Michigan has much to offer Japan By Chris Andrews Sources: Lansing State Journal, July 23, 2005
  17. Granholm Discusses Water Quality, Global Economy with Shiga Prefecture Governor Office of the Governor page at website, July 26, 2005
  18. Granholm signs legislation to keep steroids out of school Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2006
  21. 21.0 21.1 2006 Official Michigan General Election Results - Governor 4 Year Term (1) Position
  22. Economic funk won't end in 2006 by Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News, Dec. 4, 2005
  23. Brain Drain by Gary Trowbridge and Amy Lee, The Detroit News, Aug. 4, 2006
  25. SOM - Governor Granholm Says Comprehensive Budget Solution Resolves State's Fiscal Crisis
  26. Recall voices unite against Granholm by Dawson Bell, Detetroit Free Press, Oct. 4, 2007
  27. | Grand Rapids, MI | Survey USA shows slide in Gov. Granholm's approval rating
  28. Granholm, Legislature too divided, voters say
  29. Alternative energy key in Granholm's State of the State address Associated Press, M-Live
  30. Powering up: Granholm out to generate support for alternative-energy industry by Chris Andrews, Lansing State Journal, Feb. 5, 2008
  31. Michigan to court Hollywood with hefty incentives by Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2008
  32. Nick Bunkley. Detroit Council Seeks Mayor’s Ouster. Accessed May 14, 2008.
  33. Granholm starts Kilpatrick ouster inquiry by Zachary Gorchow and Ben Schmitt, Detroit Free Press, May 22, 2008
  34. Attorneys Hash Out Detroit Mayor Removal Hearing Rules, WDIV
  35. Gov.'s Hearings To Remove Mayor Resume Thursday, WDIV, Sep. 03, 2008
  36. Granholm: If Mayor Resigns Hearings To Be Cancelled, WDIV, Sep. 04, 2008
  38. Granholm: Pact on Debates Will Let McCain and Obama Spar New York Times, Sep. 04, 2008
  39. "Gov. Granholm Offers Nation Advice on Job Creation," Michigan Capital Confidential, December 10, 2010
  40. Michigan's Taxpayer Alliance, "Drinks are on you! You're paying to lobby against yourself!"
  41. Michigan's Taxpayer Alliance, "Drinks are on you! You're paying to lobby against yourself!"

External links

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