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Jennifer Mulhern Granholm (born February 5, 1959) is a Canadianmarker-born Americanmarker politician, former Attorney General of Michigan, and the current Governor of the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. A member of the Democratic Party, Granholm became Michigan's first female governor on January 1, 2003, when she succeeded Governor John Engler. Granholm was re-elected on November 7, 2006, and was sworn in for her second and, due to term limits, final term on January 1, 2007. She has been mentioned as a potential Supreme Court justice for President Barack Obama. She was a member of the transition team for the presidency of President Obama before he assumed office on January 20, 2009.


Granholm was born in Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker to Shirley Alfreda Dowden and Victor Ivar Granholm. Granholm's paternal grandfather, who emigrated to Canada in the 1930s, came from Robertsforsmarker, Swedenmarker, where his father was mayor. The Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Energy, Maud Olofsson, lives in Robertsfors and when the two met in Sweden it was revealed that Olofsson's husband is Granholm's relative.

Granholm's grandmother was an immigrant from Norwaymarker. Granholm's family immigrated to Californiamarker when she was four. She grew up in Anaheimmarker, San Josemarker and San Carlosmarker. Granholm graduated from San Carlos High School, located in San Carlos, Californiamarker, in 1977. She won the Miss San Carlos beauty pageant. As a young adult she attempted to launch a Hollywoodmarker acting career but was unsuccessful and she abandoned her efforts at the age of 21. She held jobs as a tour guide at Universal Studios, within customer service for the Los Angeles Times and was the first female tour guide at Marine World Africa USA in Redwood Citymarker, piloting boats with 25 tourists aboard. In 1980, she became a United States citizen and worked for John Anderson's independent run for President of the United States, and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeleymarker. She graduated from UC-Berkeley in 1984 Phi Beta Kappa with two BA degrees, one in political science, the other in French. Granholm then earned a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law Schoolmarker, also with honors. She clerked for U.S. Judge Damon Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1986 she married Daniel Mulhern, a Michigan native, and took his surname as her middle name. They have three children: Kathryn, Cecelia, and Jack. In 1990 she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. In 1994, she was appointed Wayne Countymarker Corporation Counsel.

Granholm, like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was once a contestant on the daytime television game show The Dating Game.

Michigan Attorney General

Granholm was elected Michigan Attorney General in 1998, defeating the Republican nominee, John Smietanka, 52 percent to 48 percent. The first woman to hold that position, she served for four years (1999–2003), focusing on protecting citizens and consumers and establishing Michigan's first High Tech Crime Unit. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Granholm directed state agencies to work with lawmakers in keeping the fight against terrorism within the powers of the state. She also imposed a regulation on gasoline dealers to keep them from raising prices dramatically, something which occurred sporadically across Michigan immediately following the attacks.

Campaign for Governor

In the 2002 election, she defeated former Governor James Blanchard and House Democratic Whip David Bonior in the Democratic primary, and then went on to win the general election against the Republican nominee, Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus, to become governor.

Her husband, Daniel Mulhern, had received several contracts for his leadership training company shortly after Granholm left her position as a Wayne County Corporation Counsel in 1998. He received nearly $300,000 worth of contracts, despite being the highest bidder for one of those contracts. Opponents criticized Granholm supporters for engaging in cronyism and giving contracts to her husband immediately after leaving county employment. Granholm and her supporters responded that no ethical violations occurred and that Mulhern had earned the contracts on his own merits. Mulhern did no work for the county while Granholm was employed there.

Former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard and former Representative David Bonior faced Granholm in the Democratic primary and criticized her handling of contracting procedures at Detroit Metro Airportmarker. Granholm was Wayne County Corporation Counsel when the questionable corporate contracts on two parking projects took place from "an apparent pattern of cronyism and no-bid contracts," which prompted investigation by the FBImarker and by state and local auditors. She ordered a review as State Attorney General. Blanchard and Bonior criticized her for "reviewing" the project rather than ordering a full investigation, and Bonior insisted that Granholm should remove herself from the case. Granholm defended that she had taken the appropriate action and continued to oversee the review.

Shortly before the 2002 gubernatorial election, a memo was released to reporters from Detroitmarker Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick addressed to Granholm. It asked that, in exchange for his support and Detroit votes, Granholm must provide jobs and appointments for Detroit natives. The memo proposed numerous specific ways that Granholm could help if elected, including ensuring that 20 percent of new political appointees were African-American. Granholm’s opponent, Republican Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus, publicly denounced the “corrupt pact” between Kilpatrick and Granholm. She said that she had never seen the memo, and she stated that she would never “respond to those kinds of demands.” In addition, Kilpatrick said he had not written the memo or signed off on its terms.


Granholm was sworn in as the 47th Governor of the state of Michigan on , 2003. The main issue facing the governor has been the massive budget deficit. Granholm has had to eliminate upwards of $200 per person from state budget expenditures, successfully resolving over $6 billion in budget deficits. She has emphasized the need for the state to attract young people and businesses to Michigan via the Cool Cities Initiative. As Governor, she is a member of the National Governors Association. She is chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and is co-chair of the Health Care Task Force of the National Governors Association. She is also chair of the Midwestern Governors Association. She lives in the official Michigan Governor's Residencemarker located near the Capitol Building.

In 2003, Granholm ran five miles across the Mackinac Bridgemarker, which connects the state's two peninsulas, in 47 minutes during the Mackinac Bridge Walk. Her run began a new tradition, and 2004 saw the first annual Governor’s Labor Day Bridge Run held hours before the Annual Bridge Walk. This time she finished the run in under 45 minutes. After joining her husband Daniel Mulhern for the last two miles of his October 24, 2004 Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank Marathon run, Granholm remarked "I would love to run a marathon before I'm 50."

During Granholm’s first year in office, she made a significant number of budget cuts after inheriting a $1.7 billion deficit. She was upset by proposals to cut state funding to social welfare programs, such as homeless shelters and mental health agencies. During an interview, she reflected on the proper perspective of budget cuts:
"Often those who cloak themselves in a cape of religiosity happen to be some who are the biggest cutters. Now, some of that can balance out. But when you get to cutting the services for the least of these in the 25th chapter of Matthew in the 37th verse the Lord says, 'Whatsoever you do to the least of these, so also you do unto me' that's when I question whether somebody is really living out the faith that they profess." The interviewer noted that Granholm would be criticized, but she hoped that everyone would “keep those values in mind . . .through the budget process.” Betsy DeVos, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party (1996–2000, 2003–05), was upset that Granhom had decided “to cloak her views on balancing the budget in religious terms in order to demonize her political opponents.” Granholm responded that she did not think her response was controversial, and she said that many people of faith are serving in state government.

Granholm has been a proponent of education reform since the first year of her term. In her first State of the State Address in 2003, Granholm announced Project Great Start to focus on reforming education for children from birth to age 5. Project Great Start has coordinated public and private efforts to encourage educating new parents and encouraging parents to read to their children. .

Granholm has also made post-secondary education for all Michiganders a priority with the decline in Michigan manufacturing jobs, many of which did not require a college degree. In 2004, she asked Lt. Governor John D. Cherry to lead a Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth to double the number of college graduates in Michigan. Many of the Commission's recommendations have been enacted into law during Granholm's tenure as governor, like increasing high school graduation standards (the Michigan Merit Curriculum) so every Michigan high school student takes four years of math and English, and two years of foreign language study.

At an awards ceremony on October 28, 2004, Granholm was inducted into the "Michigan Women's Hall of Fame". She has also been the recipient of the Michigan Jaycees 1999 "Outstanding Young Michiganders" and the YWCA "Woman of the Year" awards.

In February 2005, Michigan's Republican-dominated Legislature refused to vote on Granholm's proposed state budget, citing concerns over cuts to state funding for higher education. In the previous years of Granholm's term, many cuts to higher education had been demanded and voted in the Legislature in order to balance the state budget. The year before, Republican leaders had called Granholm a "do-nothing Governor", claiming that she failed to lead, while Democrats accused legislative Republicans of being obstructionist. In January 2005, Granholm presented an early budget proposal, demanded immediate response from the Legislature, and held a press conference outlining the highlights of the proposed budget. After refusing to consider, debate, or vote on the proposed budget, Republicans stated they would prefer that the Legislature have more involvement in the formation of the state budget.

Granholm left for Japanmarker on July 22, 2005, along with Michigan State Universitymarker president Lou Anna K. Simon, and Department of Labor and Economic Growth Director (and former Lansingmarker mayor) David Hollister. Their trip was planned, for the purpose of emphasizing Michigan as "the North American intersection of cutting-edge research, life sciences talent and high-tech innovation". They met with Shiga Prefecturemarker Governor Yoshitsu Kunimatsu, Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe and the representatives of 150 Japanese automotive, biotech, and human sciences companies. On the first day of the five-day trip, July 25, Granholm led a seminar of 65 Japanese auto-related companies at the 2005 World Expomarker in Nagakute, Aichimarker. On July 26, Granholm met with DENSO Corp. (employing 4,500 workers in Michigan) President and CEO Koichi Fukaya at the company's D-Square facility in Kariya, Aichi. Granholm then met with Gov. Yoshitsu Kunimatsu aboard the Michigan paddlewheel boat on Shiga's Lake Biwamarker, Japan's largest freshwater lake. Like the Great Lakesmarker (which surround Michigan), Lake Biwa has a history of fighting against an influx of invasive species, the Prefecture paying bounties to fishermen and hiring 43 official catchers to curb the growth of species which threaten the natural freshwater ecosystem. Shiga Prefecture is Michigan's "sister state", selected in 1968 due to their similarity in sharing their nation's largest freshwater resource. Granholm returned to work in Michigan the next Monday.She also signed a legislation to keep steroids out of schools and requiring school boards to write their own steroid policies, though the stance did not go as far as random drug testing of athletes. Granholm also established a $4000 scholarship for each Michigan college student completing two years of post-secondary education

Michigan's economy has been losing jobs since 2000, largely based on the decline in the American manufacturing sector. Granholm has worked to diversify Michigan's economy away from its historical reliance on automotive manufacturing throughout her terms in office to create "jobs today and jobs tomorrow". She created the $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund to attract jobs to Michigan in the life sciences, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and homeland security sectors. Granholm has particularly focused on bringing alternative energy jobs to Michigan to replace lost auto manufacturing jobs.

2006 campaign

Granholm ran for a second term in the 2006 election. Her opponents were Republican businessman and politician Dick DeVos, Libertarian Gregory Creswell, Green Douglas Campbell, and the Constitution Party candidate Bhagwan Dashairya.

The state's unemployment rate hovered around seven percent for much of her term. Additionally, Michigan ranked #49 in retaining young adults between 2000 and 2005, again attributed to the sluggish economy.

Both the Granholm campaign and the Michigan Democratic Party put out television commercials which focused on her efforts to revive Michigan's economy and accused Dick DeVos of cutting Michigan jobs while he was head of what was then called Amway.Granholm won re-election, defeating DeVos. The margin (rounded to the nearest percent) was 56 percent (Granholm), 42 percent (DeVos), one percent (Gregory Creswell), one percent (Douglas Campbell) and Bhagwan Dashairya). Granholm polled 4.9 percent higher than she did in her first gubernatorial election in 2002.

Second term

The 2006 elections saw a return to power by the Democrats in the Michigan State House of Representatives but the retention of Republican control over the Michigan Senate. The partisan division of power in Michigan's state government led to a showdown between Granholm and Republican lawmakers over the FY2008 state budget that resulted in a four-hour shutdown of non-essential state services in the early morning of October 1, 2007 until a budget was passed and signed. The budget cut services, increased the state income tax and created a new set of service taxes on a variety of business activities, from ski lift tickets to interior design and landscaping, to address a state budget shortfall. As a result of the controversial budget, some taxpayer and business advocates called for a recall campaign against Granholm and lawmakers who voted for the tax increases.

The budget crisis eventually led Standard & Poors to downgrade Michigan's credit rating from AA to AA-. Additionally, the crisis contributed to sinking approval ratings for Granholm, which stood at 43 percent in August 2007, to a low of 32 percent in December 2007. The divided Michigan legislature received an even lower approval rating of 18 percent in the same poll..

In 2007, Granholm proposed and signed into law the No Worker Left Behind program to provide two years of free training or community college for unemployed and displaced workers. Since its launch in August 2007, over 61,434 people have received training through No Worker Left Behind. The program caps tuition assistance at $5000 per year for two years, or $10,000 per person, and covers retraining in high-demand occupations and emerging industries.

Granholm delivered her sixth State of the State address on January 29, 2008. The speech was focused mainly on creating jobs in Michigan's economy through bringing alternative energy companies to Michigan. Through passing a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which would require that by 2015, 10 percent of Michigan's energy would come from renewable sources and 25 percent by 2025, Granholm expects the alternative energy industry to emerge in Michigan. Since the passage of the standard, Mariah Power, Global Wind Systems, Cascade Swift Turbine, and Great Lakes Turbine have all announced new projects in Michigan.

Granholm also called in the speech for an incentive package to offer tax breaks to filmmakers who shoot in Michigan and use local crews in production. A package of bills offering film industry incentives was approved by both houses of the Michigan Legislature and signed into law by Granholm on April 7, 2008.

Partly because of pressure from Granholm, Michigan's Democratic presidential primary was moved up to January 15, leading the Democratic National Committee to strip the Michigan Democratic Party of its delegates (Michigan historically held its caucuses on February 9). Granholm has been named a likely candidate for United States Attorney General in any Democratic administration. She is currently the Policy Chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

An August 2008 poll marked Granholm's approval rating at 37 percent.

In response to a May 14, 2008 resolution by the Detroit City Council to request that Granholm remove Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from office in response to eight (later ten) felony counts against him, Granholm began an inquiry, which culminated in a removal hearing on September 3, 2008. On September 3, Granholm outlined the legal basis for the hearings, arguments were made and three witnesses were called. In the morning of September 4, Kilpatrick agreed to two plea deals, pleading guilty to two counts of perjury and no contest to one count of assaulting and obstructing a police officer in two separate cases. Both of the deals required his resignation. When the hearing reconvened later that day, Granholm stated that the hearing would be adjourned until September 22 as a result of the plea deals; if Kilpatrick's resignation becomes effective before that date, the hearing would then be cancelled.

In September 2008, Gov. Granholm undertook the role of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in a series of practice debates with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden.

With the election of Barack Obama as President, Granholm joined his economic advisory team and there was speculation that she may join the Obama administration.

In Granholm's 2009 State of the State address, she announced three new motion picture studios investing in Detroitmarker, Plymouth, MImarker, and Pontiac, as a result of the film incentives Granholm proposed and passed by the Michigan legislature in 2008. Granholm also proposed and signed tax incentives to attract advanced battery manufacturers to Michigan. In total, $555 million in tax incentives are available for battery technology firms that locate in Michigan, the largest incentive package in the nation. One month after signing the battery tax incentives into law, four advanced battery makers, Johnson Controls, KD Advanced Battery Group, LLC, A123 Systems, and LG Chem announced they were investing a combined $1.7 billion in Michigan facilities, creating 6683 new jobs. Ford Motor Company announced in May 2009 that it would invest $550 million in revamping its Michigan Truck Plant to manufacture its first battery electric vehicle in 2011, retaining 3200 jobs.

On May 13, 2009, the Associated Press reported that President Obama was considering Granholm, among others, for possible appointment to the United States Supreme Court.

Granholm has focused on diversifying Michigan's economy, particularly by investing in the alternative energy sector. In 2006, United Solar Ovonic announced it would build plants in Greenville, MImarker to add to its plants in Auburn Hills. United Solar Ovonic has since announced plants in Battle Creekmarker, creating thousands of jobs. . In May 2007, Hemlock Semiconductor, the world's largest producer of polycrystalline silicon, a component in solar panels, announced a $1 billion dollar expansion of its plant in Saginaw County, creating 1300 jobs. In December 2008, Hemlock announced another $1 billion expansion at its Thomas Township plant in Saginaw County. Granholm signed legislation in July 2008 to create the Centers for Energy Excellence program to allow alternative energy business to partner with Michigan universities to accelerate research and production. As part of the Centers for Energy Excellence program, Mascoma Corporation is investing $250 million in a plant to produce cellulosic ethanol from wood waste in Michigan's Upper Peninsulamarker, partnering with Michigan State Universitymarker and Michigan Technological Universitymarker. In Flint, Kettering Universitymarker is partnering with Swedish Biogas International to turn municipal waste into vehicle fuel and electric generation. In October 2008, Granholm signed a renewable portfolio standard originally proposed in her 2008 State of the State address to require that 10 percent of Michigan's electricity come from renewable sources by 2015 and mandating new energy efficiency requirements for utility companies. The Center for American Progress estimates that Michigan could create over 60,000 jobs by investing in renewable energy technologies.

Electoral history


  1. Despite presidential losses, women in politics score gains
  2. Reitwiesner, William Addams. "The Ancestors of Jennifer Granholm". WARGS (Personal website of William Addams Reitwiesner).
  3. Sandberg, Hans "Michigan to Sweden Let’s Work Together". Currents, Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce, Fall 2007.
  4. Detroit Free Press, 11/6/02, "Shes' the Boss - Granholm wins a place in history as Michigan Elects the state's first female governor".
  5. Clift, Eleano. "Jennifer Granholm: Brainy, Blond and Ready to Rumble". Newsweek (January 6, 2007). MSNBC website. (Accessed June 29, 2007)
  6. Governor’s Labor Day Bridge Run
  7. Panels pass over Granholm plan to cut budget By Tim Martin (Source: Lansing State Journal, Feb. 16, 2005)
  8. Granholm-GOP impasse stalls her agenda By Chris Andrews Source: Lansing State Journal, Apr. 17, 2005.
  9. Granholm: Michigan has much to offer Japan By Chris Andrews Sources: Lansing State Journal, July 23, 2005
  10. Granholm Discusses Water Quality, Global Economy with Shiga Prefecture Governor Office of the Governor page at website, July 26, 2005
  11. Granholm signs legislation to keep steroids out of school Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2006
  15. 2006 Official Michigan General Election Results - Governor 4 Year Term (1) Position
  16. SOM - Governor Granholm Says Comprehensive Budget Solution Resolves State's Fiscal Crisis
  17. | Grand Rapids, MI | Survey USA shows slide in Gov. Granholm's approval rating
  18. Granholm, Legislature too divided, voters say
  19. No Worker Left Behind fact sheet
  20. 2009 State of the State Address
  21. Experts: Granholm's legacy lies in hearing
  22. Nick Bunkley. Detroit Council Seeks Mayor’s Ouster. Accessed May 14, 2008.
  23. Is Obama Cabinet in Granholm's Future?
  24. United Solar Ovonic Bringing High-Tech Solar Manufacturing Facility, 350 New Jobs to Battle Creek

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