What to Expect Ahead of the First GOP Gubernatorial Debate

Tonight, the crowded Republican primary field will participate in the first debate this cycle. Although the field is still unsettled as three candidates face challenges to their nominating petitions, Michiganders should brace for a messy display that will feature bitter infighting and dangerous agendas that will hurt Michigan families.  

Tonight’s debate is expected to feature the following:

Even More Astonishingly Dangerous, Out-of-Touch Comments About Abortion

This cycle has already seen Garrett Soldano tell sexual assault victims that “God put them in this moment” and Tudor Dixon spew baseless anti-choice conspiracy theories in order to justify her crusade to deny abortions even when the health of the mother is at risk. And in what may be the last few weeks of Roe v. Wade, expect all candidates to triple-down on their dangerous and callous agenda to strip the right to choose from Michigan women and families. All have actively communicated that they would ensure Michigan reverts overnight to a dangerous ban that makes abortion a felony.  

Plans to Take Michigan’s Education and Economy Backwards

Thursday’s debate will remind Michiganders that the GOP field will tout their plans to reverse Michigan’s economic recovery and undercut the future generations of our workforce. All have given full-throated endorsements to dismantling public education: cutting funding from underperforming schools so that “magical things” will happen, rewriting Michigan’s constitution to funnel money to private schools, and enacting a voucher program to funnel $500 million annually from funding for public schools .

Additionally, they have backed “unsustainable” and “short-sighted” plans that, on top of gutting public education, would immediately strip billions from critical services like law enforcement, public safety, and infrastructure. None have answered how they would ensure these basic initiatives that keep Michigan running would be funded instead.

And as “major international gateway” Ambassador Bridge was shut down due to an illegal blockade that impacted $356 million of goods daily, the Republican gubernatorial field didn’t hesitate to throw their support behind this major economic chokehold on Michigan and encouraged it to continue. 

Infrastructure Plans: “Fake” and Not a Priority

Michiganders shouldn’t expect Thursday’s debate to offer any clarity on how any candidate would take advantage of the more than $10 billion slated for major improvements to Michigan’s infrastructure as a result of the historic and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. They also won’t explain how they will build on the $4.75 billion Governor Whitmer has invested since taking office to make critical repairs and replacements to over 13,000 lane miles of roads and over 900 bridges

To date, James Craig used one of the biggest days of his campaign to broadcast that infrastructure and the thousands of jobs these investments would create is not “one of my priorities,” while Tudor Dixon dismissed the federal infrastructure bill as “fake.”

More Infighting Over Fraudulent Petitions

James Craig, Tudor Dixon, and Perry Johnson are all implicated in an illegal “round robin” signature forging scheme described as “a small group of people sign[ing] names and addresses in turn, one per sheet, using a voter list.” They were also all caught relying on the signatures of “verifiably” deceased voters. Attorney Mark Brewer said the submitted petitions included mass and blatant fraudulent activity on an unprecedented scale.

The revelations kicked off a swarm of attacks being lobbed among the three campaigns where each candidate simultaneously and unsuccessfully attempts to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other two challenges while downplaying their own petition issues. Other candidates like Kevin Rinke and Garrett Soldano are expected to drag their previously-stated criticisms of the three onto the debate stage.

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