- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A new clash between anti-shutdown protesters and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could reveal whether those opposing coronavirus lockdowns can maintain momentum into the November elections.

In their effort to gut Ms. Whitmer’s emergency powers, Unlock Michigan organizers have 180 days to garner 340,000 signatures for legislation that would head directly to the Republican-controlled legislature that the Democratic governor could not veto.

Michigan’s state board of elections gave a green light on Monday to the right-leaning group looking to gut Ms. Whitmer’s emergency powers that brought her state’s economy to a standstill amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Fred Wszolek, Unlock Michigan spokesman, said 12,000 canvassers have signed up on his group’s website to gather signatures, and they intend to have the necessary signatures before November.

At issue is a 1945 Michigan law that Ms. Whitmer has repeatedly cited to do such things as shutter businesses and ban certain gatherings. Unlock Michigan organizers want to repeal the 1945 law and maintain a 1976 law that would place a time limit on a state of emergency and would require the legislature to renew the emergency powers afforded to a governor.

“There was a period of time when this governor was issuing orders that told you what aisles in a hardware store you were allowed to shop in and which ones you couldn’t go down but she was ignoring the mounting death toll in the state’s nursing homes,” Mr. Wszolek said. “And if she had been forced to listen to other voices, she probably would have gotten her priorities set differently.”

While the state legislature has also sought to undo powers afforded to Ms. Whitmer and other battles have been fought in the courts, Unlock Michigan’s petition could become veto-proof and looks to have gotten the attention of the state’s Democrats. The Michigan Democratic Party labeled the Unlock Michigan effort as having disastrous effects on the state’s ability to save lives and the economy, according to the Detroit News.

Unlock Michigan has not yet garnered the support of the state GOP or other like-minded advocacy groups in the Midwest or nationwide. Mr. Wszolek said while he has worked for Republicans previously, Unlock Michigan is not operating at the direction of the GOP.

“It’s not being driven by the party. I wish it was,” Mr. Wszolek said. “It wouldn’t be as hard of work if there was a whole party infrastructure devoted to this but they’re out there running their campaigns for their elections on their timetable.”

If Mr. Wszolek’s group succeeds, it may depend upon old-fashioned methods of political advocacy. Given social distancing customs wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Wszolek said his group envisions mailing the petition to those wishing to sign and then receiving their signatures in return.

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