Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will be the guest speaker for the Hillary Clinton campaign at the Johnson County Democrats' annual barbecue on October 18, joining Bernie Sanders on the speaker list.
The Clinton campaign informed local Democrats Thursday that the candidate would not be attending, and that they would send "a high level surrogate (not a family member)."
Granholm was governor from 2002 to 2010, when she was term limited. Since leaving office, Granholm has hosted a cable show, served on
faculty at the University of California-Berkeley law and public policy
schools, and is co-chairing the Priorities USA super PAC.
Granholm was an early Clinton backer and frequent cable TV guest in 2007-08. Once the nomination was settled, she took on the job of playing Sarah Palin in Joe Biden's debate prep. (No word on whether her impersonation rivalled Tina Fey's.) She also served on the Obama transition team.
As governor, Granholm signed the state law that moved Michigan's 2008 primary to January 15, in violation of the rules of both parties. The Michigan move pushed Iowa's 2008 caucuses to January 3.
Granholm was not the main force behind Michigan's 2008 move - that can be blamed on then Senator Carl Levin and then DNC member (now Rep.) Debbie Dingell. And she avoided the aggressive rhetoric of Dingell and Levin, who explicitly said the move was aimed at replacing Iowa and New Hampshire as first in the nation.
But in signing the bill, Granholm noted Michigan's "richly diverse electorate," echoing the frequent criticism of Iowa and New Hampshire's lack of diversity. She also stuck up for her state in the months-long fight over the Michigan national convention delegation (which was eventually seated with no penalty).
Granholm has often been mentioned as a potential cabinet member - but not a presidential candidate or running mate; as she was born a Canadian citizen, she's ineligible. She took a pass at an open seat US Senate run in 2014 when Levin retired. Democrat Gary Peters held the seat, in one of the few Democratic wins last year.
Sanders is attending his second consecutive Johnson County Democrats' barbecue, and for the second consecutive year he's getting paired with a woman from Michigan; Senator Debbie Stabenow co-keynoted with Sanders in 2014.
Hillary Clinton was one of five candidates (with Dodd, Edwards, Kucinich and Richardson) to attend the 2007 barbecue, which set an attendance record of 2500. She brought George McGovern along with her, and the 1972 nominee made his Clinton endorsement official at the event.
Local Democrats don't have final word yet from the Chafee, Webb, or O'Malley campaigns - and yes, I did ask O'Malley again.