Gretchen Whitmer's Sister Ends Congressional Campaign, Endorses Opponent Who Called To Defund Police

Liz Whitmer Gereghty left school board position to pursue failed primary bid

Gretchen Whitmer, Liz Whitmer Gereghty (Twitter)
November 29, 2023

Michigan Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer's sister is ending her short-lived New York congressional campaign and endorsing her primary opponent, former congressman Mondaire Jones, who is known for his embrace of the defund the police movement.

Liz Whitmer Gereghty in a Wednesday morning statement announced her departure from the race for New York's 17th Congressional District. "Uniting our party and focusing our resources on taking back the House is critical to fighting back against the radical extremism plaguing our politics," Gereghty said. "In that spirit, I endorse Mondaire Jones' campaign for Congress." Gereghty's decision to end her campaign comes just six months after she entered the race in May.

While Gereghty's decision to end her campaign and endorse Jones means the Democratic Party will avoid a bitter primary fight in a crucial swing district, Jones's status as the party's likely nominee could help Republicans as they look to hold their narrow House majority in 2024.

Jones won the 17th district in 2020, running a progressive campaign that saw him call to defund police, abolish cash bail, and enact Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. But the redistricting process made Jones's district more conservative, and Jones subsequently opted to run in 2022 for the deep-blue 10th district. Jones finished third in the primary for his new district, and Republican Mike Lawler went on to win Jones's former seat in November 2022.

"We must dismantle white supremacy in all aspects of our society, and that means moving funding away from police departments," Jones wrote in a June 2020 Teen Vogue op-ed.

Now, Jones will have to fend off attacks over his past support for defunding police as he runs to take down Lawler. The Republican congressman previewed those attacks on Wednesday, when he labeled Jones "a 'defund the police' and open borders radical" who "proudly referred to himself as a socialist and Squad-adjacent." The Congressional Leadership Fund similarly celebrated the end of Gereghty's campaign, saying Jones's status as the "likely nominee" marks a "recruitment fail" for Democrats.

"New York Democrats are demonstrating just how out of touch they are with everyday voters by backing a radical socialist who wants to open our borders and defund the police," the group's communications director, Courtney Parella, said in a statement.

Jones's campaign did not return a request for comment.

Before her failed congressional run, Gereghty served on the board of a public school district located just north of Manhattan, a position she vacated one month after launching her campaign. Gereghty during her campaign faced criticism over her ties to her sister's Michigan, courting support from the state's congressional delegation and hiring a campaign manager who most recently worked in Michigan. Those moves prompted Jones's allies to dismiss her as a New York outsider.

"I didn't even know [Whitmer's] sister lived in the district," Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) said in April. "And I don't know many people who know her."