Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has launched a federal political action committee that will allow the Democrat to carve out a visible and supportive role in 2024 races.
The Fight Like Hell PAC — named for Whitmer’s rallying cry last year to preserve abortion rights in her state — plans to raise money to boost President Joe Biden in his re-election bid, as well as House and Senate candidates, according to details shared with NBC News.
Whitmer, 51, is viewed as a rising national star and presidential prospect, after winning a second term by a commanding margin last year. Her efforts on behalf of Democrats in 2024 could build goodwill for her own future endeavors. Biden famously parlayed his campaign activity for candidates during the 2018 midterm elections into support for his White House run in 2020.
“Now, we must do everything we can to keep up the momentum for candidates who fight for everyday Americans and the will of the majority," Whitmer — who has been a target of aggressive attacks by former President Donald Trump and other Republicans who disagreed with her shutdown policies during the Covid pandemic — said Monday in a statement issued by the PAC. "While MAGA extremists do what they can to undermine our progress, I am committed to bolstering our efforts to elect partners at the federal level who will stand up and fight like hell for working families, seniors and children across the country.”
The PAC registered with the Federal Election Commission last week, gaining notice from Michigan news outlets, though Whitmer and other officials involved declined to offer specifics about the mission. On Monday, PAC officials said Whitmer will raise money using her “vast small donor network.”
In a video accompanying Monday's launch, Whitmer speaks of "a moment where our fight must stretch beyond Michigan and reach the entire country."
"That's why we're starting Fight Like Hell PAC — to bring Michigan's fight for basic freedoms to our supporters' backyards across the entire country," Whitmer adds.
Whitmer’s rise began soon after winning her first term in 2018, ending eight years of GOP governorship in Michigan and reasserting Democratic strength in a state that Trump won in 2016. She endorsed Biden ahead of her state’s primary in 2020, while Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was still competing for the nomination. When Biden campaigned with her the following week, he presented himself as a "bridge" to Whitmer and other younger leaders. She eventually would crack his short list for vice president.
During the early days of the pandemic, Whitmer’s criticism of the federal response drew Trump’s rage. He branded her “the woman from Michigan” and on Twitter issued an all-caps call to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.” Later in 2020, the FBI scuttled a plot to kidnap Whitmer by men angry about her Covid shutdowns.
Whitmer’s decisive re-election victory, along with a Democratic takeover of the Michigan Legislature for the first time in 40 years, fueled speculation about her presidential prospects in 2028 — or sooner, if Biden had decided not to run again. And when Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced plans to retire after her term ends next year, Whitmer quickly swatted away the suggestion that she would run for the seat and said she intended to serve her full four-year term as governor. Fight Like Hell figures to play a significant role in that contest, too.
"We will fight like hell for Democrats to hold the White House in 2024," Whitmer says in the video. "We will fight like hell for Democrats to hold Michigan's seat in the U.S. Senate in 2024. And we will fight like hell for every candidate who shares our values."
In the release announcing the PAC, officials emphasized that the “way it is structured means that money raised into the account could not be spent on a federal race where Governor Whitmer is the candidate.”