GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Democrats in West Michigan and across the state on Wednesday were celebrating a shift in power they haven’t seen in a generation.
After Tuesday’s election, for the first time in nearly 40 years, Democrats will control all three branches of state government: the governor’s office, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In the House, Republicans have had a four-seat advantage. It now appears Democrats will have a 56 to 54 advantage.
In the Senate, Republicans’ six-seat advantage is gone. Democrats now appear they will hold a 20-18 seat advantage.
“It is a new day in Michigan,” state Rep. Rachel Hood, D-Grand Rapids, told News 8. “It is absolutely thrilling.”
Cheers erupted as Hood spoke outside the campaign headquarters of Hillary Scholten. That’s because Scholten was showing up for her victory speech. She will become the first Democrat to represent Grand Rapids in Congress since 1977.
“It has been four decades since we have had a trifecta in Michigan of Democratic support up and down the (state) chambers and in the (state) executive office,” Hood said. “This is a thrilling moment for us, an enormous moment.”
Democratic state Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, who easily won reelection, hopes to be named Senate majority leader as soon as Thursday.
“It’s a seismic shift in politics in Michigan,” Brinks said. “What you’ll see is a lot less contentious processes here; you’ll see a legislature that’s eager to work with our governor.
“The state is ready for us to move in a different direction. Gretchen Whitmer has been leading the way. We will have a Legislature that is ready to work with her.”
On things, she said, like the economy, education and jobs.
“We’ll also see an affirmation of those fundamental rights,” Brinks said. “Being an equality-minded state, where LGBTQ people are welcome, being a state where your fundamental reproductive rights are affirmed.”
“What it means is that the priorities of Michiganders were heard yesterday at the ballot box,” said state Rep.-elect John Fitzgerald, D-Wyoming.
Fitzgerald, the first Democrat to represent the city of Wyoming in the House in nearly 40 years, said he looks forward to working closely with the governor.
“I think what it means is we can work together in a very smart way,” he said. “We have a razor-thin margin in the House, but I think what it means is we can work together in a collaborative manner to put Michganders first.”
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Mark Huizenga, R-Walker, will become part of the minority party. He said it’s too soon to know how much freedom this will mean for the governor.
“You have to remember the margin is pretty tight, so maybe they’re going to have a Democrat that won’t agree with them and maybe they’ll need to pick up a Republican,” Huizenga said. “I tell people, look, I don’t always agree with Republicans all the time, I don’t agree with Democrats all the time, and I don’t always agree with my wife all the time either, so we’ve got to find ways to work together and figure things out.”