What People Are Saying About Tonight’s Debate in Grand Rapids

As Michiganders saw last week in Warren, the gloves were off tonight in Grand Rapids as Kevin Rinke, Ryan Kelley, Tudor Dixon, and Garrett Soldano struggled to distinguish themselves from each other’s extreme agendas that would eliminate reproductive freedom and strip funding from law enforcement, public schools, and infrastructure. 

See below for Michigan reporter’s reactions to the “confrontational” display that was televised statewide. 

Tudor Dixon Tried to Call Out Kevin Rinke’s “Piss-Poor” Budget Proposal, Despite Also Supporting it Herself

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Asked about inflation, Rinke reiterates his proposal to eliminate income tax. Dixon says she’d phase it out over time because “you have to replace that with something else.” Rinke responds: Cutting it slowly would be like “a slow death for the state of Michigan.”

Eric Lloyd (9&10 News): MORE | [9 and 10 News] Q3: What taxes would you be looking to cut and how? Dixon: Reduce personal income tax over time. Rinke: Eliminate the personal income tax by 2024. Kelley: Budget audit/cut wasteful spending. Property tax elimination. Soldano: Forensic accounting audit.

Simon Schuster (MLive): Some fireworks early on tonight. Tudor Dixon said she’d “gradually reduce” MI’s personal income tax. Kevin Rinke rebuts: “People are suffering now. Taking time to  slowly reduce the income tax is like a slow death for the state of Michigan.”

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): First criticisms of the debate: Tudor Dixon says Kevin Rinke has no plan to replace the $12 billion that would be lost by doing away with the income tax. “I think people should just be aware that there is no plan to eliminate the income tax in one year,” Dixon says.

Both Garrett Soldano and Ryan Kelley Took Turns Attacking Conspiracy Theorist Tudor Dixon’s Entrenched Ties to Establishment Republicans

Eric Lloyd (9 & 10 News): Dixon uses her last rebuttal. She has used all three of hers saying she has worked with the legislature to get action done. Soldano uses second rebut and attacks Dixon saying she is a paid for RINO that would bring more of the same.

Simon Schuster (MLive): Soldano to Dixon, when she quips “I thought we were RINOs”: “You’re backed by the establishment. You’re backed by the DeVos empire.”

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Soldano goes after Dixon, arguing she is “bought and paid for” because of backing from “the DeVos empire.”

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): .[Garrett Soldano] says people are sick and tired of the establishment and politicians.  They want something different.

Eric Lloyd (9 & 10): Dixon uses the beginning of her answer to clap back at Soldano by saying that the last time she met with the “DeVos Empire” and other business leaders that he was led in right after her. Soldano rebuts saying she is already an established politician and lying

Jordyn Hermani (MLive): Interesting to watch MIGOP gubernatorial candidates calling sitting Republican legislators as RINOs, knowing they will have to work with many of those same individuals if winning the seat in November. DePerno tried that. He’s since tried to make amends with those same lawmakers.

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): Garrett Soldano is focusing his criticisms on Tudor Dixon, repeatedly calling her the “establishment backed” candidate.

Every Gubernatorial Candidate Stumbled Through Questions About Infrastructure, Openly Admitting They Don’t “Know Much About the Situation”

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): .[Kevin Rinke] says the feds should give subsidies to the states and let them take care of what they need.  Need to quit letting Canada taking our power.

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): Ryan Kelley brings up Russia and says he doesn’t know much about the situation.  Should charge at the charging stations.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Next question is on how to keep Michigan’s infrastructure running in the future, through EV rise. Rinke suggests Michigan should look to Canada for its policies on infrastructure. Michigan allows heavier vehicles on its roads, which has contributed to road deterioration.

Known and Charged Insurrectionist Ryan Kelley, Who is Due in Federal Court Tomorrow, Defended His Participation in the Violent Storming

Eric Lloyd (9 & 10 News): Kelley gets his own tweet given his involvement in January 6th. Trump has done amazing things for our country. Yes, I was in DC. Yes, the FBI raided my house on misdemeanor charges. We were there because we didn’t like the results and process of 2020 elex.

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Ryan Kelley, Michigan governor candidate recently arrested for alleged role in J6 protests: That was a first amendment activity by a majority of those people, myself included.”

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Kelley: “Jan 6: Yes, I was in DC on Jan 6. Yes, the FBI did raid my house in front of my wife and children, and put on a big show over misdemeanor charges.” Says he was in DC “protesting the 2020 election” because he didn’t like the results, says it’s a first amendment issue.

Byron Tollefson (WOOD): Here’s what Ryan Kelley says about Jan. 6: “That was a First Amendment activity by a majority of those people, myself included. We were there protesting the government because we don’t like the results of the 2020 election.” “That’s what 99% of the people were there for.”

Everyone on Stage Reiterated Their Desire to Slash Funding for Critical Services Like Law Enforcement, Public Education, and Infrastructure

Simon Schuster (MLive): Analysts everywhere in shambles. Rinke: “Government needs to stop studying things.”

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): .[Kevin Rinke] says it is the people’s money.  Brings up illiterate people and students again.  Do more with less.

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): Ryan Kelley wants to provide energy to businesses.  Get rid of the income tax.  Expand agriculture.

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): .[Tudor Dixon] says everything is over-regulated.  Needs to pull those back and help businesses.

Once Again, Every Candidate on Stage Refused to Acknowledge Gun Violence or Support Any Prevention Measures

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): Ryan Kelley: Guns are not the problem. It’s the people who are the problem.

Barbara Bellinger (MIRS): “We don’t sell military weapons at gun stores. They might look the same…” [Kevin Rinke] Anyone care to weigh in? I don’t know what criteria he is using to categorize a weapon as military. #gubernatorial #debate #Michigan Watching online at WOOD TV

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): Ryan Kelley wants to bring “Constitutional carry” to Michigan.  Criminals ignore laws and current administration is soft on crime.

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): .[Garrett Soldano] says there is a mental health problem and also wants “Constitutional carry” in Michigan.  Makes a dig at Chicago.

Barbara Bellinger (MIRS): Red flag laws don’t solve the problem. [Kevin Rinke] [Tudor Dixon] #gubernatorial #debate

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Kelley says “guns are not the problem,” people are. Soldano says “we don’t have a gun problem, we have a mental health problem.” The U.S. has comparable levels of mental health issues as other developed nations, but has significantly more gun violence.

Andrew Minegar (MIRS): .[Garrett Soldano]  says mental health is a huge issue in Michigan.  We need to go back to family and God.  Social media need to be held accountable. Common sense.

As Has Been Custom at Every Debate This Cycle, Every Candidate Reiterated Their Commitment to Eliminate Reproductive Freedom for Millions of Michiganders

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Soldano pulls out a now-classic Soldano phrase, that he’s “unapologetically pro-life,” with only exception for the life of the mother. Criticizes Whitmer’s attempts to “bypass the system of government” through her legal efforts to enshrine right to abortion in constitution.

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): Asked about abortion policy: 

Rinke: That is a legislative issue 

Kelley: Ban abortion except to protect the life of the mother

Soldano: Ban abortion except to protect the life of the mother 

Dixon: Notes she was endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Soldano issues a “call to action to our movement to hammer down on these local prosecutors” to enforce Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban, which is currently suspended pending an ongoing lawsuit.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Dixon starts out her answer by pointing out that she’s the only candidate endorsed by Right to Life. All MIGOP candidates are in favor of severely limiting access to abortion, most with few exceptions.

Each Candidate Took Turns Parroting Baseless Lies About the Electoral Process

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): Garrett Soldano says “2000 Mules” shows people dropping off hundreds of ballots in one area. I don’t recall the movie showing this.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Next Q is on the validity of the 2020 election. Kelley, up first: “The 2020 election was fraudulent and stolen from President Trump.” Kelley is facing multiple federal charges after being at the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was motivated by election fraud claims.

Simon Schuster (MLive): Election fraud stances during this debate (only): Kelley: Fraudulent and stolen from President Trump. Soldano: We’ve got to investigate. Dixon: SOS Benson “must’ve had some nefarious plan” to reduce signature verification standards. Rinke: Irregularities yes, no word on outcome.

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): Ryan Kelley points out that Kevin Rinke didn’t directly answer whether the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald Trump (there are no facts to back this claim up). Moderator Rick Albin decides to move on instead of press Rinke.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Soldano is the first candidate of the night to name drop 2000 Mules. Mostly points to what he saw in 2000 Mules as “proof” there was election fraud. As [Craig Mauger] has pointed out, 2000 Mules did not prove widespread election fraud happened in Michigan

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Michigan Court of Claims did rule Benson violated rule-making process on signature matching guidance. But contrary to Dixon’s claim, Court of Appeals ruled she was within authority to mail absentee ballots. And contrary to Rinke claims, neither case reached state Supremes.

Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press): At tonight’s debate candidates asked whether 2020 election was stolen (it wasn’t). Dixon departs from previous answer and points to things she alleges opened door to fraud but doesn’t say like she did last time that Trump won 2020 election (he lost by more than 154k votes).

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