GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State Sen. Winnie Brinks has been named Michigan’s first female Senate majority leader as Democrats retake control of the chamber for the first time in decades.
Brinks, of Grand Rapids, was elected to the post by her fellow Democrats as they caucused Thursday in Lansing.
“I am honored to be elected by my peers to lead the first Democratic Majority in the Michigan Senate since 1983,” Brinks said a statement. “Along with Democratic leadership in the House and governor’s office, we are ready to lead a legislature that prioritizes people over politics.”
Brinks called the 20 Democrats who will control the Senate — a majority of whom are women — are a “dynamic, diverse caucus.”
“As a majority for the people, we will prioritize the needs of Michigan residents and the rights they deserve in everything we do,” Brinks stated. “Creating good-paying jobs and safe work environments, making health care accessible and affordable, delivering our kids the world-class public education they deserve, and ensuring equality for all are just some of the fundamental values we will uphold.”
Later Thursday, Democrats picked state Rep. Joe Tate of Detroit to be the next speaker of the House.
“I am proud to serve alongside my esteemed colleagues as Speaker of the House,” Tate said in a statement. “Together, we will shape sound policy that positively impacts our state and generates opportunities for all Michiganders to reach their full potential. I am confident that we are destined to do great works in the days before us.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a statement said Tate is the first Black person to lead either chamber of the Michigan Legislature.
“I am so excited to work with my friends Majority Leader Brinks and Speaker Tate to get things done on the fundamental issues. Both incredible leaders will make history—Senate Majority Leader Brinks as the first woman ever to hold that position and Speaker Tate as the first Black Michigander ever to be elected Speaker in our 185-year history. And both are committed to putting families first and moving Michigan forward. I know they will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get things done,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Republicans have held the state Senate since 1984 and the House since 2010. After the Nov. 8 election, Democrats will retake both when the new legislature is sworn in next year, which is when more about their agenda for the legislative session should be released.
Democrats were also reelected to all of the state’s top executive offices: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel.
“It’s really a gratifying moment right now,” Brinks told News 8. “We’ve worked for so long. I’ve been in the legislature for 10 years. Every two years, every four years, we’d fight for the majority like our life depended on it, So this is really gratifying for me, having been through so many cycles, to actually come out on top. Not just the Senate but the state House and to have the governor return to office, it’s all very gratifying and I can’t wait to get started.”
Republican Sen. Aric Nesbitt of Lawton was selected by his caucus to be the Senate minority leader.
“While the results of this week’s election were not what we hoped, I am honored to be chosen by my peers to lead the Republican caucus,” Nesbitt said a statement. “The 18 members of this team bring a diverse array of talents and expertise to the Senate and are eager to get to work for the people of our state.”
State Rep. Matt Hall of Comstock Park was named the leader of Republicans in the House.
“Michigan families are going through tough times right now. They want strong leadership at the Capitol that will focus on lowering inflation and increasing jobs and that knows how to get things done,” Hall stated. “Those are issues we’ve been working on since we came to Lansing, and they are going to stay priorities for this Republican caucus next year. I’m proud to have the trust of my colleagues and of this chamber, and I look forward to leading that effort and delivering solutions for Michigan families over the next two years.”
—News 8 political reporter Rick Albin contributed to this report.