Former President Donald Trump endorsed Tudor Dixon in Michigan’s crowded Republican gubernatorial primary on Friday, just days before voters were set to pick an opponent to face Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“She’s pro-God, pro-Gun, and pro-Freedom, and she won’t be arrested!” Trump said in a statement announcing his support.
Trump’s endorsement came shortly after his former education secretary, Betsy DeVos, urged him to join her in supporting Dixon – and despite Dixon’s opponents pointing out that DeVos had left the cabinet. Trump shortly after the January 6, 2021, uprising.
Dixon, a conservative commentator, also has the support of Michigan’s Right to Life, former Gov. John Engler and some of the state’s top legislative leaders. She also has the financial backing of a pair of super PACs tied to Michigan-native DeVos.
Dixon has said she will fight to keep drag queens out of schools, and she opposes abortion except to save the life of the mother. Dixon held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida earlier this year, which the former president called it “special.”
Dixon’s opponents include businessman Kevin Rinke, chiropractor Garrett Soldano and real estate broker Ryan Kelley, who has been charged with misdemeanors for his actions during the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
Trump’s endorsement has sometimes made the difference, and he has often overshadowed the power of his support. But he also suffered high-profile setbacks with some of his picks.
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 result. But all of the GOP gubernatorial candidates say there was fraud, and all but Rinke said they believe the election was stolen from Trump.
Rinke and the Democratic Governors Association both spent large sums of money running television ads attacking Dixon ahead of the primary.
Rinke’s television ad claims that Dixon is backed by “the main ever-Trumpers of the RINO establishment”, using the derisive acronym of “Republican in name only”.
The Democratic Governors Association’s $2 million ad buy pushes claims that Dixon’s budget plan would force widespread layoffs of police officers; she said that was wrong.
“Obviously they are desperate to get me out of there. They don’t want me running against Gretchen,” Dixon told The Associated Press after the final GOP governor’s debate on Wednesday.
DeVos, in his Friday letter to Trump, said they should work together to elect Dixon, calling him “the only one who can stand with ‘that woman from Michigan,'” a term Trump used for Whitmer. rather than calling it by name in 2020.
Whoever emerges from the Aug. 2 primary will face a tough battle against Whitmer, who has nearly $15 million set aside, more than all five Republicans combined.
Joey Cappelletti is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.
The Independent Gt