What People Said About the First Debate of the Republican Gubernatorial Primary

“Alarming” … “Interesting choice to skip the first debate” … “All eyes on disqualifications” … “Legitimate chance that Craig will be kept off the ballot”

Last night, eight out of the ten chaotic and disastrous Republicans running for governor gathered in Livingston County for the first primary debate of the 2022 cycle.

Despite chief “neophyte” James Clark’s Craig’s cowardly absence, the debate clearly highlighted for working families that the entire slate’s wrong-for-Michigan agenda won’t keep them first and doesn’t belong anywhere near the governor’s office. 

The Day After He Admitted Fraud in His Nominating Petitions, James Clark Craig Made an Abrupt Decision to Pull Out of the Debate, Then Lied About It

Steve Neavling (Detroit Metro Times): GOP gubernatorial candidate James Craig, whose campaign acknowledged some of his petition signatures may have been fraudulent, is now ducking out of the first debate.

David Eggert (AP): And there is it. Soldano takes a shot at Craig for not showing at debate. ‘Can I answer for James Craig’

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): When asked about repealing prevailing wage law, Soldano says: “Can I answer for James Craig, since he’s not here?” Someone makes a quip about Craig’s slogan “Leading from the front.” Huge applause and laughter from the crowd.

Amanda Carpenter (Bulwark): Seems like if you are going to skip a debate you should at least put out a video of the event to show voters why it was so critically important to skip. Had this thought about Herschel Walker skipping events too.

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Craig campaign argues he did not “pull out” of the debate. “Chief Craig has a prior commitment this evening, where he will be giving remarks to the Mechanical Contractors Association Annual Meeting.”

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): NEW: Livingston County GOP Chair Meghan Reckling tells me James Craig had “100 percent” committed to tonight’s GOP gubernatorial debate. Was “one of the first” and had been confirmed for weeks. “It’s very disappointing” he pulled out within the last week, she said.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): […] An interesting choice to skip the first debate for untelevized remarks.

Ben Solis (Gongwer): […] Big missed opportunity for those candidates, but alas.

Each Competing Candidate Endorsed Dangerous, Extreme Abortion Bans, Including Michgan’s Currently Dormant 1931 Near-Total Ban

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Tudor Dixon: Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban, which would go back into effect if Roe v Wade is overturned “is a good law.” “It’s very important to me to protect life,” she says.

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Garrett Soldano says he’s “unapologetically pro-life” … “We must stand up to the ones who can’t stand up for themselves.”

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Ralph Rebandt, a pastor, says that life begins at conception, he believes that because of “the very word of God.” Adds he will sign any law that outlaws abortion, calls it “murder.” He says he has talked with women who considered abortion and they did not regret giving birth.

Ben Solis (Gongwer): Ryan Kelley said he would sign a law to ban abortions other than an exception to save life of the mother. Scolds “far left” protesters attacking SCOTUS justices. Said GOP needs to be unapologetically pro life or they will lose in future elections. Called for a pro-life culture.

Ben Solis (Gongwer): Garrett Soldano also said he is 100 percent unapologetically against abortion, called Governor Gretchen Whitmer an “extremist” on abortion. He said the GOP needs strength and would be a candidate who would be strong on abortion policy.

The Fate of James Craig, Perry Johnson, and Tudor Dixon’s Fraudulent Nominating Petitions Loomed Large Over the Debate

Dennis Lennox: Debate was a dud. Basic questions. Red meat answers. Not much substance. No fireworks, except Soldano’s dig at Craig. No breakthrough moment for the also-rans, who really needed something. Absentee ballots drop in about a month. All eyes on disqualifications.

Steve Neavling (Detroit Metro Times): I can’t recall a major candidate whose campaign has imploded quite like [James Craig]’s. He shamelessly lies, dodges the media, is hemorrhaging campaign staff, likely turned in fraudulent petitions, and solely relies on national conservative TV coverage.

Stephen Henderson (Bridge Detroit): “This is seen as a competency hurdle…a sort of first check,” says [Jonathan Oosting] about the 15,000 signature petition requirement to get on the Mich gubernatorial primary ballot on #DetroitToday

Stephen Henderson (Bridge Detroit): “There is a legitimate chance that Craig will be kept of the ballot,” says [Jonathan Oosting] on #DetroitToday

Dennis Lennox: Chief Clark’s days as a candidate are over. P.S. I’m still waiting for a refund of the $500 I gave him last summer.

The Entire Field Communicated They Have No Idea How the Auto Industry – or Michigan’s Strong Position Within it – Works

Daniel Howes (Detroit News): Sheesh. Few things worse than would-be pols who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. “Leaving?” No. Investing outside MI? Yes. Question: what are you gonna’ do about it? How are you gonna move faster, smarter, cheaper than KY, TN, GA?

Phoebe Howard (Detroit Free Press): It’s alarming that any candidate for governor could be unaware of goings on re: Detroit automotive industry. [Ford] and [GM] are investing billions of $$ in new investments (and jobs) in Michigan. No one has “threatened” that anyone is “leaving.”

Chad Livengood (Crain’s Business Detroit): At GOP debate, [Tudor Dixon] says Michigan is “threatened with Ford and GM leaving.” That’s overstating things quite a bit. Ford is building new EV & battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee. But the Blue Oval ain’t leaving Dearborn. GM hasn’t left Michigan in any significant way

The Field Was All Over the Place on Education, Calling for Cuts and Changes That Are Radical and Unconstitutional, Backed Up By Bizarre Claims Presented Without Evidence

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Perry Johnson says Michigan does not have qualified teachers, says he’s been told people are teaching with high school qualifications. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe a bachelor’s degree is required to teach most subjects in Michigan K-12 schools.

Ben Solis (Gongwer): Rebandt said he would institute a voucher funding system and would make sure that the state doesn’t withhold monies from Christian schools.

Ben Solis (Gongwer): Kelley: Continued federal dollars in MDE is a “plague.” Called for no longer excepting federal monies for state education. Added that social emotional learning must also be removed from schools.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Kelley says he wants to eliminate the Michigan Department of Education. A governor alone does not have the authority to eliminate the Department of Education.

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): Honest question: Who is suggesting the state stop funding the public universities?

Emily Lawler (Detroit Free Press): Gotta say, this is not a suggestion I’ve heard pinging around Lansing. As of last week, Senate Rs were bragging about increasing higher ed funding:

Ben Solis (Gongwer): Rebandt said he would cut that funding. Said the money should go to students and not the institutions, but also claimed dubiously that there were Confucius schools in America being funded by China. Also attacked admin salaries as bleeding universities dry.

Samuel Robinson (Axios Detroit): Candidate Perry Johnson, who’s been standing over the debate table during his answers, says Michigan’s public universities “should cater to people of our state, not of foreign countries,” to much applause.

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