Gretchen Whitmer wanted out.
Joe Biden reportedly wanted her in the mix for the running mate slot, even though she said she no longer wanted to be considered.
The Michigan governor had caught the interest of Biden and his vice presidential vetting committee, who were drawn to her prominence in a crucial battleground state and her aggressive response to the coronavirus outbreak there.
But by late spring, the nation was in the midst of a reckoning over race and inequality following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.
Whitmer sent word to Biden’s team that while she was flattered, she no longer wanted to be considered for the running mate slot, according to a high-ranking Democrat familiar with the process. She recommended Biden pick a Black woman.
Biden personally called her in mid-June to ask if she would continue on to the second, more intensive round of vetting, according to the official. Whitmer agreed.
But forces in the country, and within the Democratic Party, were indeed pushing Biden toward a history-making pick. As protests over the death of Floyd and other Black Americans filled the streets across the country, an array of Democrats urged Biden to put a Black woman on the ticket — a nod to this moment in the nation’s history, to the critical role Black voters played in Biden’s ascent to the Democratic nomination, and to their vital importance in his general election campaign against President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Biden tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, making her the first Black woman to serve on a major party presidential ticket.