He took over in the middle of the pandemic, and now Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth is set to hand over his gavel to the Democrats.
“That full responsibility is on myself. We lost fair and square. I don’t think anybody imagined the governor performing as well as she did,” said Wentworth. “I think the House Democrats should thank the governor for their majority because I don’t believe House Democrats earned it. I think Governor Whitmer delivered that majority to the House Democrats so if I was Speaker-Elect Tate, I would be sending a thank you card to the governor. I think 2024 will be much different. They will not be able to ride Whitmer’s coattails in 2024.”
The state representative from Farwell was elected by his peers to lead the House for the past two years.
A much more quiet leader than his predecessor, former Speaker Lee Chatfield, Wentworth met with media Thursday to look back on his term as leader and look ahead for Republicans. He was also asked about his former leader and the current investigations, specifically why the House wasn’t pushing their own investigation into Chatfield.
“It’s an investigation, we’re not asking questions, we’re just cooperating. At the end of the day, as things came to light, as circumstances changed, we did go down the path of hiring a third-party to investigate,” said Wentworth. “When we did that, we notified the Attorney General’s office and the Attorney General’s office requested that we not investigate.”
Wentworth highlighted the bipartisan nature of his term, something Governor Whitmer has even noted. He said he hopes that continues with the Dems in control.
“I’m hopeful they can still work together and get things done. Obviously with such a slim majority the House Democrats will really need House Republicans to move any legislation,” said Wentworth. “To be frank. the House Democrats, most of the time, they are lacking votes themselves because not everybody shows up to work all the time. I think this cycle they’ve missed close to 3,000 votes as a caucus.”
Wentworth said that bi-partisanship showed in healthcare reform, boosted support in child care, economic development and additional police funding. He also says he plans more work in the final weeks, including more money for Michiganders.
“I’m also proud we gave a lot of tax cuts. We gave the governor a lot of options to sign tax cuts for the state and obviously we know how that turned out. I’m still proud that we were able to come together and get those through the House and the Senate and get those to the governor’s desk,” said Wentworth. “I think that, to be frank, we’re not that far off on a tax cut potentially in lame duck. At least based on the governor’s public comments, we’re not that far off. I think we can potentially come to an agreement there in lame duck, so I’m excited about that.”
Wentworth says he has no future plans just yet, saying he wants to help the caucus going forward but not in any official role.
“I truly loved being a state representative and Speaker of the House,” said Wentworth, “It’s been the highest honor of my life outside of being a father and a husband, but I have no desire to be elected in the future.”