LANSING – As eight years of total Republican control of state government ended at noon Tuesday, Democrats crowded the Capitol lawn with a smattering of Republicans on hand as well to mark the opening of a new political era in state government.

A Democratic governor, secretary of state and attorney general. A Republican Legislature and a Supreme Court with a majority of justices nominated by the Republican Party.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans opened the ceremonies by expressing excitement for “diversity and inclusion.” Former Governors Jim Blanchard and Jennifer Granholm were on hand. Whitmer said but for Michigan State University’s football team having played in California on Monday, Interim MSU President and former Governor John Engler would have present as well. She said former Governor William Milliken, now 96, was unable to attend.

The mood was light. After Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist’s children helped lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance (along with Whitmer’s daughters and stepsons), the governor-elect low-fived the young Gilchrist children as they passed her on their way back to their seats.

Republican former Sen. Bruce Patterson, with whom Whitmer served in the Senate for almost five years (and the House for two years before then), delivered remarks to add to the bipartisan tone Whitmer was seeking. He wore a red Stormy Kromer hat to make his political affiliation clear.

But there were emotional moments as well. Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh’s voice cracked with emotion as he finished administering the oath of office to his daughter, Justice Megan Cavanagh. And a Flint resident struggled to hold back her emotions while recounting how Whitmer had reached out to her son when visiting a hospital where he was receiving treatment.

At least a couple dozen legislators were on hand as were U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee(D-Flint) and U.S. Rep.-elect Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township).

The weather, as January 1sts in Lansing go, was not bad. Cloudy but dry. The temperature started around 30 but fell a couple degrees as colder air moved into the state. Windy, but not blustery. Monday’s soaking rains, however, left portions of the Capitol lawn in tatters.

As inaugural crowds go, it was not especially crowded, though more of the lawn filled in close to the start of the ceremony. The Associated Press reported that Capitol Facilities put the crowd at 1,400 to 1,500.

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