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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s book out July 9

Title comes out as profile rises; GOP demands deal details

By Chad Livengood and Craig Mauger, The Detroit News
Published: April 13, 2024, 5:12am

LANSING, Mich. — Publishing giant Simon & Schuster said Friday it will release a book this summer by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about her life and five years as the state’s chief executive, a signal of the Democrat’s expanding national profile.

The book, titled, “True Gretch: What I’ve Learned About Life, Leadership, and Everything in Between,” is set to go on sale July 9, the publisher said.

“The book provides an unconventionally honest, personal and funny account of her remarkable life and career, full of insights that guided her through a global pandemic, showdowns with high-profile bullies, and even a kidnapping and assassination plot,” Simon & Schuster said in a news release.

The Whitmer book comes as the second-term governor is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and a potential future presidential candidate. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan in 2020, Whitmer has increasingly gained national attention as she repeatedly clashed with former President Donald Trump, as Joe Biden considered her as a potential running mate and as she helped Democrats win control of the state Legislature for the first time in 40 years in 2022.

“We’ve been watching Whitmer carve a hugely successful path in these divisive times, and we are thrilled to be publishing her book,” Simon & Schuster Vice President and Executive Editor Mindy Marques said in a statement. “She is the very rare politician who can make change and find humor in politics, and her first book is as unconventional as she is.”

A former state lawmaker who represented the Lansing area, Whitmer, 52, was first elected Michigan’s governor in 2018. She won a second term in November 2022.

Her book will go on sale this summer six weeks before the Democrats gather in Chicago for the Democratic National Convention to formally nominate their candidates for president and vice president.

Publishing a book that incorporates a politician’s life, work and governing vision is a typical pathway to seeking higher office.

“Usually a lot of these political books end up being fairly unmemorable,” said Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Whitmer has repeatedly downplayed the idea that she wants to seek higher office. Before her reelection, Whitmer told The Detroit News in October 2022 that she would serve a full four-year term in the governor’s office, which would end in 2026.

But Whitmer will likely get a midsummer media blitz from the book being released the week after the Fourth of July, adding to her national name recognition, Kondik said.

“She’s clearly someone who has a growing national profile,” Kondik said.

Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, called on Whitmer’s administration to release the terms of her book deal — something her team didn’t do.

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“She’s a public employee,” Hoekstra said. “The people of Michigan ought to be aware if it’s a seven-figure deal that will dwarf what she makes as a public servant.”

Whitmer makes $159,300 a year as the state’s elected leader.

In mid-January, the New York Post’s celebrity gossip column Page Six published a story saying Whitmer had inked “a big, seven-figure” with Simon & Schuster to write a book. The next day, Whitmer told reporters in Michigan that the Page Six report was “not accurate” but didn’t elaborate on what was inaccurate about the story.

“I’ve always said, at some point, I am going to write a book,” Whitmer said Jan. 18. “When I’ve got something to announce and share, I’ll make sure you know.”

Asked to explain why Page Six would report about a deal if there wasn’t one, Whitmer acknowledged she was “seriously contemplating” what her book would be.

The Page Six report was inaccurate because there was no agreement at the time the story was published, said Julia Prosser, a spokeswoman for Simon & Schuster.

“We are not in a position to comment about our author’s financial arrangements,” Prosser said.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was paid about $5 million for his 2020 memoir titled “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” according to media reports.

On the other side of the political aisle, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, authored a book in 2021 called “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs.” On his federal financial disclosure covering 2021, he reported making $467,000 in royalties.

Simon & Schuster said the net proceeds of Whitmer’s book would be donated to the Capital Region Community Foundation, a Lansing-based philanthropic organization, through 2026, when her second and final term as governor ends.

Simon & Schuster said Whitmer will narrate the audiobook version.

The Page Six report in January said Whitmer was viewed as “a potential ‘replacement’ for aging President Joe Biden,” 81, should the incumbent decide not to go forward with a reelection bid this fall against Trump, 77, the presumed Republican nominee.

In recent years, Whitmer has taken steps to get more involved in national politics, launching a federal political action committee in June 2023 called Fight Like Hell PAC. The name of the PAC touched on one of Whitmer’s slogans.

She has repeatedly vowed to “fight like hell” to protect abortion access after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a half-century of protected abortion rights nationally in 2022.

Earlier this week, Whitmer visited Arizona, where she campaigned for Biden. She highlighted “the stakes of the presidential election for Arizonans’ reproductive freedom,” a statement from the Democratic president’s campaign said.

Last month, Whitmer cracked jokes at the 139th dinner of the historic Gridiron Club and Foundation in Washington, D.C., which was attended by Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and others among the capital’s political class. And in February, while on a personal trip, Whitmer met with Democratic state lawmakers in Massachusetts.

Whitmer’s likely July book tour promoting “True Gretch” also could help springboard her into a coveted speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention the week of Aug. 19, Kondik said.

The Tuesday night prime-time keynote address is typically reserved for rising stars, Kondik said, noting in 2004 an Illinois state senator named Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention during the Tuesday night slot. Four years later, he was elected president.

“Something to watch is who gets that slot at the convention,” Kondik said. Whitmer “would be a natural candidate for that.”

Hoekstra, the Michigan GOP chairman, said Whitmer is building a platform for what she wants to do after she’s gone from the governor’s office.