Front-runner Tudor Dixon could get the boost she needs to win the Republican nomination for governor of Michigan as she finally received the coveted endorsement of Donald Trump on July 29—just three days before the Aug. 2 primary.
At an April rally in Macomb County, Trump raised political eyebrows when, of the then 10 GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, he called out Dixon by name and spoke favorably of her but stopped short of an endorsement. Trump was then silent about Dixon until now, after months of heightened suspense among the five candidates, who all competed fiercely for Trump’s endorsement.
To underscore the importance of Trump’s endorsement, a recent Detroit News-WDIV TV poll taken two weeks before Aug. 2 found 38 percent of likely GOP primary voters remaining undecided.
This is significant because according to the poll, 63 percent of undecided voters said Trump’s endorsement is either very important or somewhat important in them making up their minds.
One of Dixon’s four rivals, Garrett Soldano—currently in fourth place—had recently publicly advised Trump to stay out of the very close Michigan governor’s race to avoid angering the party’s grassroots voters who may be supporting candidates other than Trump’s pick.
Following Trump’s endorsement of Dixon, Soldano said in a statement, “From what I know about President Trump, he likes winners. I look forward to his support on Aug. 3.”
He told The Epoch Times that his campaign will succeed because of strong grassroots support.
“I’ve personally knocked on well over 10,000 doors,” he said.
A Real Clear Politics analysis of recent polls shows Dixon with a lead ranging from four to eight points over Kevin Rinke who is currently in second place in the field of five.
Dixon’s average lead is about five points, very close to the polls’ margin of error.
Candidates Ryan Kelley and Soldano are both within striking distance, trailing Dixon by about 10 points.
The Detroit News-WDIV poll revealed that 12 percent of likely Republican primary voters refused to answer pollsters’ questions, throwing another element of uncertainty into the mix.
When the 12 percent of GOP voters who did not answer pollsters is added to the 38 percent who claimed to be undecided, that means 50 percent of the preferences of regular Republican primary voters are unknown to pollsters just days before the election—so anything can happen.
Also, Michiganders have been early voting since June 23, and no one can be certain what factors influenced how they voted at the time or for whom they voted.
During a campaign event at a restaurant in the small farming town of Croswell, Soldano warned a crowd of supporters that the nation is headed into a serious recession and stressed the need to craft state policies designed to attract back to Michigan the many businesses and families who have fled the state.
Soldano gained statewide notoriety when he, as a private citizen, helped spearhead the successful movement to curtail the emergency executive powers of the governor during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020-21.
Another wildcard in the race is long-time Oakland County pastor Ralph Rebandt. Though the polls say Rebandt trails Dixon by 20 points, his actual support may be very hard to gauge.
Over the months, Rebandt—who is dedicated to bringing a spiritual element to politics and government—has been quietly visiting scores of churches, presenting himself as the candidate of Judeo-Christian morality, constitutionalism, and positive change.
In a recent Friday evening campaign appearance, billed as a “Saving Michigan for God and Country Rally,” Rebandt addressed a capacity crowd at a church near Flint.
During his presentation, Rebandt poked fun at Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2018 campaign mantra “Fix the damn roads.”
“Don’t bother fixing the roads, Gretch. We can’t afford to drive anymore,” he said, as he displayed a screenshot of one of his billboards displaying that message.
After the rally, audience member Dave Griffin of Flint Township told The Epoch Times that he had come to the meeting undecided. “But now, I know 100 percent Ralph Rebandt has got my vote. He cares for the American people.”
Businessman Ryan Kelley is polling third behind Dixon. He hosted a “meet and greet” at a riverfront restaurant in St. Clair on July 26.
At the event, Kelley told The Epoch Times that, unlike his four Republican rivals, he is “not afraid to stand on principle.”
Kelley said Whitmer is a “master at lying and manipulating voters and has abused the public’s trust.”
He also criticized Whitmer for the unnecessary deaths of thousands of elderly Michiganders in nursing homes during the pandemic.
After meeting Kelley, Charlie Cook of Port Huron told The Epoch Times, “I could easily vote for any of the five Republican candidates. I’m still persuadable.”
Cook said Whitmer’s “national ambitions” and her “disastrous COVID-19 policies” have made it impossible for him to vote for her.
Metro-Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke’s campaign war chest and advertising budget may be the factor that pushes him past Dixon and on to victory in the last days before the August 2 primary, despite Trump’s endorsement.
Rinke has contributed $10 million of his own money to his campaign. He spent more than $4 million on media advertising.
“My business experience makes me the most qualified candidate to be the chief executive of the State of Michigan. We know business leaders solve problems differently than career politicians.
“Gretchen Whitmer and the Lansing establishment are drunk on spending and dedicated to growing the size of government.”
Rinke said Whitmer has diminished parents’ rights and that her policies during the pandemic caused Michigan to suffer greatly.
According to her website, front-runner Tudor Dixon has a background in the steel industry. She is a mother of four daughters, and it was her concern over the indoctrination of school children that led her into public life.
She founded Lumen Student News, an organization that provides patriotic and constitutional news programs to school children.
Dixon also works as a news anchor on Real America’s Voice.
She is dedicated to expanding school choice and empowering parents in the education of their children.
Dixon has also been endorsed by the influential family of former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos of Grand Rapids, Michigan Right to Life, the American Conservative Union, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and the Police Officers Association of Michigan—all of which, according to political observers, pale in value compared to her endorsement by Trump.
Dixon has raised $1.2 million and, between her campaign and several independent political action groups supporting her, they have spent $2.3 million, mostly on advertising.
According to campaign finance reports, Whitmer, a Democrat, has raised $29.6 million in the election cycle since her 2018 victory over Republican Bill Schutte.