Whitmer’s Sister Leaves Local School Board High and Dry To Run for Congress

Liz Whitmer Gereghty's early departure left board scrambling to fill position

Gretchen Whitmer, Liz Whitmer Gereghty (Twitter)
July 22, 2023

Michigan Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer's sister abruptly resigned from her position on a New York school board to pursue a congressional run, leaving the board scrambling to fill the position ahead of a new school year.

Liz Whitmer Gereghty on June 15 announced her resignation from the Katonah-Lewisboro school board, meeting records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show. Just one month earlier, Gereghty announced her bid for New York's 19th Congressional District, a commitment she said would keep her from serving the school district. For Gereghty's colleagues on the board, the "unforeseen" departure was "particularly awkward," given the district held an election just weeks before the resignation. Gereghty's timing instead pushed the district to fill the vacancy with an unelected successor, a job board members only had two weeks to complete under district bylaws.

Animosity over Gereghty's resignation could fuel allegations that Gereghty does not represent the New York district, which is located just north of Manhattan. The race will see Gereghty navigate a contentious primary against liberal former congressman Mondaire Jones, who represented the district from 2021 to 2023. Jones's allies have already dismissed Gereghty as an outsider—Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.), for example, in April said he "didn't even know [Whitmer's] sister lived in the district" and doesn't "know many people who know her."

Gereghty has thus far done little to combat those criticisms. She 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. Whitmer in April, meanwhile, contributed the maximum amount to her sister's campaign, and Gereghty as a school board member mirrored positions on the coronavirus that Whitmer took as governor of Michigan.

Neither Gereghty's campaign nor the Katonah-Lewisboro school board returned requests for comment.

Gereghty's former board holds seven members, meaning the congressional hopeful's sudden vacancy eliminated the tie-breaking vote. The board had two options to fill the vacancy—appoint an unelected candidate or pay at least $30,000 to hold a special election, money the district already spent to hold an election weeks prior to Gereghty's resignation. As a result, the board determined it could not justify spending additional money and opted to appoint a replacement.

During her resignation speech, Gereghty highlighted her push to change a local high school’s mascot from the "Indians" to the "Wolfpack." Gereghty also touted her work during the pandemic, when she emerged as a vocal opponent of holding athletic competitions.

Gereghty is running to unseat freshman GOP lawmaker Mike Lawler, who in 2022 upset then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney. Jones complicated that effort earlier this month when he announced his campaign for the same district, pitting the two prominent Democrats against each other in a primary that is expected to get messy. Gereghty has responded to criticism from Jones's allies by accusing her opponent of moving districts to "chase a congressional seat," a reference to Jones's decision to run in New York's nearby 10th district in 2022. Jones lost the Democratic primary for that district, meaning both he and Maloney lost their seats in January.

Gereghty is considered an unknown quantity in New York and will face an uphill battle to get her name out in the district. The Democrat's campaign website for now does not include a policy page and instead slams "extremist Republicans" for "banning books," "robbing women of their reproductive rights," and "fearmongering about crime."