MDP Memo | MIGOP Endorsement Convention Set to Highlight Dangerous Agendas, Infighting That Will Keep Party in Disarray Through August Primary

To: Interested Parties
From: Lavora Barnes, Michigan Democratic Party Chair

Since before the start of the 2022 cycle, Michigan Republicans have pushed dangerous agendas that will hurt Michigan families. Nowhere will this dynamic be more clear than the party’s endorsement convention set to take place in Grand Rapids at the end of this week. Already, the events leading up have exposed a party with divisions too deeply seated to present a united front ahead of the August primary, compounded by the fact that no decision will be made on the 23rd that will consolidate party support at the top of the ticket.

The following key facts show that the Republican gubernatorial primary, and MIGOP at large, will remain messy and divisive:

  1. The entire Republican gubernatorial field has prioritized an extreme agenda that puts Michiganders last

Throughout the cycle, gubernatorial Republicans have pushed dangerous agendas that will hurt  Michigan families and their campaigns to go all in on an extreme agenda that won’t put our state first.

The candidates have established themselves as solidly anti-choice, rooting for the return of a currently dormant law on Michigan’s books from 1931 that criminalizes abortion, makes felons out of reproductive health care providers, and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. 

And whether they’ve been on the trail for nearly a year or joined just weeks ago, this crop of candidates has continually shown Michiganders they won’t prioritize the kitchen table issues as governor by indicating that infrastructure is not a priority, pushing plans to strip funding from public schools, and standing against bipartisan measures to boost Michigan’s economy. 

Most notably, they are all defined by the fact that they staked their campaigns on either reversing the results of the 2020 election or using their position as governor to refuse to certify future outcomes they don’t like – a dangerous undertaking James Craig toyed with earlier this month. The baseless crusade to overturn an election that has long since been certified, then audited more than 250 times in Michigan, has corroded every level of the MIGOP to the point of no return. 

  1. While the MIGOP stays gripped by bitter infighting, Governor Whitmer is delivering win after win for Michigan families 

As already seen in the county delegate nominating conventions this past Monday that “expos[ed] deep rifts over the party’s direction,” the MIGOP is poised to have a rocky endorsement convention. Regardless of which wing of the party emerges victorious Saturday, the MIGOP will remain too distracted by “explosive infighting” to pivot to a message of unity. 

These lingering divisions will make it extremely difficult for the party to put up a united fight in November against a strong incumbent like Governor Whitmer, who has stayed above the divisiveness delivering kitchen table solutions for working families.

Since taking office, she has invested “nearly 4.75 billion” towards making critical repairs and replacements to nearly 13,200 lane miles of roads and over 900 bridges – a major undertaking that has supported nearly 82,000 jobs.

Her leadership was critical for securing GM’s “single largest investment announcement” in the company’s history. It creates 4,000 good-paying jobs – thanks to the bipartisan created Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR), “a fund aimed at luring large development projects.” 

This month, she took historic action to protect Michigan women and families by filing a lawsuit and exercising her executive authority to immediately ensure abortion stays safe and legal in Michigan.

Last year, she secured a historic and bipartisan $17.1 billion dollar public education budget that completely closed a decades-long state funding gap between school districts, and made the “largest investment in PreK-12 schools in state history” — all without raising taxes.

With Michigan seniors in mind, Governor Whitmer called on the legislature to repeal the retirement tax which would save half a million households an average of $1,000 annually

  1. With a little over three months to go until Michiganders cast their ballots, the field remains crowded with no clear frontrunner

Earlier this month, Republican pollster Frank Luntz warned that “there are so many candidates that they’re beginning to cannibalize themselves and it’s not raising the Republican prospects for winning in the fall.” It’s not difficult to see why.

Thanks in part to MIGOP-insider favorite James Craig’s inability to gain traction since joining the race nearly a year ago – the chief “neophyte” has been burning through staff and campaign donations – the crowded field has hovered around 12 candidates for the majority of this cycle. 

Even self-funders Perry Johnson and Kevin Rinke have struggled to break through, despite their endless strings of TV ads.

Additionally, the process of securing enough signatures to qualify for the ballot won’t be thinning the field as much as previously thought. Nearly the entire field of 12 is expected to qualify for the ballot. 

Garrett Soldano was the first of the Republicans to submit signatures for the ballot. He will be joined by no fewer than five other candidates. Michael Markey, Mike Brown, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebant, and Donna Brandenburg have all submitted enough signatures. That these far less-known candidates were able to clear this hurdle all but indicates that James Craig, Perry Johnson, Kevin Rinke, and Tudor Dixon should have no trouble doing the same by Tuesday’s deadline, ensuring that the gubernatorial field stays close to or fully in the double digits through the summer.

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