Dixon wins Michigan GOP gubernatorial primary, to face Whitmer

Businesswoman and conservative commentator Tudor Dixon won Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, setting up a tough race against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer as anger and division within the state’s GOP threaten the efforts of the gone to the Battleground State this fall.

Dixson, which was endorsed by former President Donald Trump last week, defeated four male candidates in a race between little-known political newcomers. She also had the support of the prominent Michigan Republican family of Betsy DeVos, who was education secretary in Trump’s cabinet, but was critical of him and resigned after the January 6, 2021 riot, as well as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and several anti-abortion groups.

Taking the stage at a victory party, Dixon pledged to fight for families who have struggled through Whitmer-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns and can’t afford gas in their vehicles and pay their bills. She called the first-term governor the “queen of lockdowns” and recounted how her own grandmother died in a nursing home, alone, during the pandemic.

“Frankly Michigan, we deserve better,” Dixon said. “We now have the opportunity to truly hold Gretchen Whitmer accountable for the pain she has inflicted on all of us over the past four years.”

Whitmer, who had no Democratic opponent, was seen as potentially vulnerable heading into 2022 due to anger over her pandemic restrictions, rising gas and food prices and her ties to President Joe Biden, whose approval ratings are low. But some of those hopes were dashed after top Republican candidates did not participate in the ballot because they did not file enough valid nomination signatures, and the remaining field struggled to compete in fundraising with Whitmer and his multimillion-dollar campaign fund. None of the GOP candidates had held public office, and many had baggage it could hurt in a general election.

Dixon is a former steel industry executive who also hosted a conservative show on a streaming channel and once starred in low-budget zombie movies in what her campaign described as an “admittedly lame” hobby. .

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Democrats are criticizing his far-right stances on issues, which could also be a tough sell for independent voters deciding Michigan’s election. Dixon opposes abortion except to save the life of the mother, and says Michigan should eliminate the permit requirement for carrying concealed weapons.

In a statement Tuesday, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said Dixon “has a dangerous agenda that will devastate working families in Michigan.”

Dixon is the first female Republican candidate for governor of Michigan. The match adds to an already record number of contests between two nominated women this cycle, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. Three – in Iowa, Oregon and Alabama – were established ahead of Tuesday, up from a previous record of two. Tuesday’s Arizona primary was also expected to result in an all-female race.

Dixon campaigned as a mother of four who focused heavily on education, saying she wanted to keep drag queens and talk about sex and gender out of elementary schools. She said she would end the teaching of “critical race theory” in Michigan public schools and wants all districts to post teaching materials and programs online for parents to review. Dixon also says that families should be able to use public funds per student in private schools, homeschooling or other educational institutions of their choice.

Dixon defeated real estate broker Ryan Kelley, who pleaded not guilty to misdemeanors during the Capitol riot; chiropractor Garrett Soldano; former car dealership owner Kevin Rinke and pastor Ralph Rebandt.

They lambasted Dixon during the campaign as an “establishment” pick, criticizing her ties to DeVos and saying she didn’t do enough to stand up to Whitmer when she imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

Controversial primaries are nothing new, but hostility appears to have intensified in some places this year as Republicans split over whether to relaunch the 2020 election or look ahead, including the race 2024 presidential election. The divide has been particularly public and pronounced in Michigan, where Trump has pushed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him and has supported many candidates who support him – including for the post of secretary of state and attorney general – in view of a possible candidacy in 2024.

Michigan is also among the states where subpoenas have been issued to “false voters” who submitted documents saying Trump, not Biden, won the state election.

Trump lost Michigan by about 154,000 votes in 2020, and multiple audits and courts — as well as an investigation by the Republican-led state Senate — confirmed that.

Dixon hesitated on the question. She raised her hand during a debate when candidates were asked who among them thought the election was stolen. But has been less explicit in recent weeks, criticizing Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and saying on Fox News on Sunday: ‘We need to make sure our elections are secure and what happened in 2020 doesn’t happen again.’ .

Trump’s belated endorsement by Dixon gives him a victory to brag about, although he also experienced some high profile defeats.

Grand Rapids voter Mark Orsinger said he decided to vote for Dixon after Trump’s endorsement.

“I didn’t know about Tudor until Trump mentioned her,” Orsinger said. “She seems like an OK person. I’ve only known her for 20 seconds from a commercial.


Associated Press writers Joey Cappelletti in Grand Rapids and Mike Householder in Delhi Township contributed to this report.

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