Michigan Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer's sister, who is running for Congress in New York, endorsed a liberal group's plan to recruit candidates for local school board elections. That group wants to defund police and remove cops from schools.
Liz Whitmer Gereghty on September 26 said she was "thrilled" to see left-wing political group Run For Something "invest millions in recruiting and supporting" local school board candidates, adding that New York is "one election away from losing our school boards to book banners." Run For Something, however, is pushing for far more than curriculum changes. The group has long pledged to "help" school board candidates who aim to "get police out of school," an objective it achieved in Denver and Minneapolis. The group has also called to defund the police altogether.
"If you want to run for district attorney to hold law enforcement accountable or city council to defund the police and instead invest in BIPOC communities, we'll help you," Run For Something said in 2020.
Gereghty's endorsement of the group comes as the congressional hopeful approaches a difficult primary against former congressman Mondaire Jones, a longtime ally of the left-wing "Squad" who is known for his progressive politics. It also comes as the constituents Gereghty hopes to serve sound the alarm about crime. In Rockland and Putnam counties, which sit roughly 50 miles north of New York City, crime increased in nearly every reported category between 2021 and 2022.
Gereghty has subsequently worked to walk a fine line on crime, with the Democrat expressing support for both law enforcement and some criminals. Gereghty on her campaign site, for example, says she supports cashless bail for "those accused of non-violent crime," as "we should not be ruining peoples' lives … if they cannot afford bail." But she also stresses the need to be "tough on crime" and "support law enforcement." Gereghty did not return a request for comment on her endorsement of Run For Something and which crimes she considers "non-violent."
Gereghty is a former school board member herself, having joined the Katonah-Lewisboro board of education in 2019. Gereghty abruptly resigned from that role in June, however, one month after she announced her bid for New York's 19th Congressional District. Gereghty's former colleagues on the board lamented the "unforeseen" departure, which gave them just two weeks to fill the vacancy with an unelected successor.
Gereghty's decision to forgo her school board role in favor of a congressional campaign has fueled criticism that the Michigan native does not represent the New York district she seeks to serve in Congress. Gereghty has courted support for her campaign from Michigan's congressional delegation and hired a campaign manager who most recently worked in the Great Lakes State. In April, meanwhile, Michigan's Whitmer contributed the maximum amount to her sister's campaign.
"I didn't even know [Whitmer's] sister lived in the district," liberal New York congressman Jamaal Bowman said that month. "And I don't know many people who know her."
In addition to recruiting local candidates who want to defund police, Run For Something's leaders have also campaigned in favor of the unpopular policy. Nithya Raman, a Run For Something regional director who serves on the Los Angeles city council, signed a pledge in 2020 to slash the city's police budget by 97 percent.
"The path is not complicated: fund services. Fund housing. Fund care. Defund the police," Raman said at the time.
Gereghty is running to unseat freshman GOP lawmaker Mike Lawler, who last year upset then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney by less than 2,000 votes. Jones complicated that effort when he announced his own campaign to take on Lawler, pitting the two prominent Democrats against each other in a race that is expected to get messy.