Women voters don’t want ‘bullies’ as governor

Pontiac – Michigan’s Republican governor hopefuls clashed on Wednesday over who is best positioned to defeat Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November, the lone candidate saying voters don’t want a “bully” in the top job of State.

Six days before the primary election, the exchanges shed light on the eighth and final debate in the race to be the Republican nominee to face Whitmer this fall.

Bloomfield Township businessman Kevin Rinke argued Michigan needed someone with business experience to run its state government, while Allendale real estate broker Ryan Kelley said the GOP had to nominate a fighter. Still, conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores noted that her opponents and Democrats were targeting her in the final days of the race.

“They’re attacking me,” said Dixon, the lone primary candidate among the other Republican candidates. “And people hate it. Just so you know, that’s what they’ll do with Gretchen Whitmer.

“And that’s why women will come out in droves and say, ‘They don’t want a bully in the governor’s office. “”

Dixon’s reply was aimed at his male opponents amid heightened tensions between the candidates and as Democrats and Rinke’s campaign started broadcasting a rush negative TV ads against Dixon.

During the hour-long debate at the UWM Sports Complex, Rinke called Dixon “the Republican Party’s version of Gretchen Whitmer.”

Mattawan chiropractor Garrett Soldano called Dixon a “bought by the establishment” candidate because of her support from the wealthy DeVos family and Lansing-based lobby organizations.

GOP candidates (from left) Ryan Kelley, Kevin Rinke, Tudor Dixon, Ralph Rebandt and Garrett Soldano attend the GOP Governor's Debate at the UWM Sports Complex Auditorium in Pontiac, Michigan on July 27, 2022.

GOP candidates also called for long-term tax relief to tackle soaring inflation and argued that a temporary suspension of the state’s gas tax, as the Legislature directed offered by the GOP as part of a larger tax relief package, was not enough to calm the economy. pain experienced by residents.

Instead, they said Michigan should reduce other long-term tax burdens and aim for energy independence, which could ease the pain at the pump and generate more revenue for the state.

Whitmer vetoed bills that would temporarily suspend the collection of Michigan’s 27-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and instead argued for a suspension of the federal gasoline tax or sales tax from Michigan. 6% from the state on gasoline. The vetoes are part of larger, head-to-head tax relief plans that Whitmer and the Legislature have been squabbling over the past few months, with both sides pledging to refocus on the issue this fall.

The comments came as GOP candidates gathered for a debate sponsored by the Oakland County Republican Party and WJR-AM (760), moderating and broadcasting the discussion.

Soldano sarcastically called Whitmer’s gas tax suspension a “gift that keeps on giving” and said he would have gone ahead with a temporary gas tax suspension from Whitmer. ‘State. But he and other candidates argued that the problems facing the state amid record inflation were longer term.

“They’re trying to dance around this recession talk” and “change this narrative,” Soldano said. He argued that Whitmer’s controversial actions would be multiplied if she won a second four-year term as governor and turned her attention to a run for the White House.

Rinke said a gas tax suspension was a temporary fix that would not solve the economy’s long-term problems. Instead, he argued for an elimination of the state’s 4.25% personal income tax, arguing that the state’s record budget could absorb the loss of that tax revenue.

“Lansing, right now, are pigs in the trough,” Rinke said. “They are drunk on your money.”

Last month, lawmakers sent Whitmer a record $76 billion state budget, fueled by multibillion-dollar budget surpluses and leftover federal COVID relief funds.

Rinke’s proposed elimination of the income tax would deplete state coffers by about $12 billion a year. Through multiple debates, Rinke failed to identify which areas of state government he would eliminate to make up for lost revenue.

Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt also noted that any gas tax suspension would be short-term and instead advocated for property tax relief for seniors and resource farming in the State, including the exploitation of mineral resources in the upper peninsula.

Dixon said the state was heading into a recession and Whitmer was “doing nothing” to stop it.

Dixon argued that Whitmer was doing the opposite of easing the state’s high gas tax prices with his efforts to shut down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline through the Strait of Mackinac, an opposing plan. by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Our governor is more radical than Justin Trudeau,” Dixon said.

Kelley said the gas tax suspension was significant but temporary. Instead, he advocated for property tax relief on homesteads and for working with surrounding states to drill for domestic oil.

“These short-term fixes, I think, are what we need to do to get our economy working again,” Kelley said.

Earlier this month, Dixon held a slight primary advantage, according to a July 13-15 poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4). Of 500 likely GOP primary voters, 19% said they would vote for Dixon while 15% chose Rinke, 13% favored Kelley and 12% supported Soldano. About 2% backed Rebandt, while 38% of Republican voters polled said they were undecided.

However, Dixon’s narrow lead was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, and political consultants described the race as a “toss in the air.”

Put Michigan First, a group supported by the Democratic Governors Association, revealed an ad Tuesday night that attacks Dixon, saying his plan to phase out the state’s 4.25% personal income tax would ‘cut’ police funding. The organization is investing about $2 million in advertising in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election.

Dixon, who was endorsed by the Michigan Association of Police Officers, said the ad was an attempt to eliminate her in the primary because Whitmer’s supporters don’t want to face her in the general election.

Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Tudor Dixon speaks during the GOP Governors Debate at the UWM Sports Complex Auditorium in Pontiac, Michigan on July 27, 2022.

“The idea that this attack ad came out and said I would one day cut funding for the police is rubbish,” said Dixon on Wednesday morning during a round table with police supporting his candidacy. “We made it clear on our website that we would never do that.”

Meanwhile, Rinke has funded ads claiming Dixon is “funded” by opponents of former President Donald Trump. His advertisements refer to Betsy DeVos, a Michigan resident and former Trump education secretary.

DeVos resigned from Trump’s cabinet a day after the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters attempted to disrupt certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. DeVos has since acknowledged that she had discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with other members of the Cabinet to impeach Trump before the end of his term, according to CNN.

Wednesday night’s debate was the first since campaign finance revelations revealed members of the DeVos family paid $1 million to Michigan Families United, a political committee that sponsored TV ads supporting Dixon. .

During the last debate on July 20, Soldano said his “definition of the establishment is essentially” the “entire campaign” of Dixon. On Wednesday, Soldano called Dixon a candidate “bought by the establishment.”

Trump hasn’t endorsed the primary so far, but he has already commented positively on Dixon. In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said Republicans in Missouri and Michigan are “waiting” for him to formally announce his support for a candidate.

“They say whoever I support will win,” the ex-president said.

Soldano told reporters that Trump’s potential endorsement remained “up in the air” Wednesday night.

“I think he’s going to do it in the next 48 hours,” Soldano said.

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