Top Republicans backing Whitmer for governor

LANSING — Some top Republicans, including a former cabinet member in the gubernatorial administrations of Rick Snyder and John Engler, will work to elect Democrat Gretchen Whitmer as Michigan governor.

Whitmer announced the “Republicans and Independents for Whitmer” coalition Thursday. Leaders include Jim Haveman, ex-director of Michigan’s health department; lawyer Richard McLellan; former Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, now an independent; and Vivian Carpenter, ex-deputy treasurer under Gov. William Milliken.

Haveman has criticized Republican Bill Schuette’s prosecution of officials for Flint’s water crisis. He credits Whitmer for expanding Medicaid.

Leading Republicans are unhappy over the group’s formation.

Sen. Mike Shirkey and Rep. Lee Chatfield — potential future GOP legislative leaders — say pro-Whitmer Republicans are abandoning the party, tearing down Schuette and the ticket, and working to end GOP legislative majorities.