Oct 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Michigan governor debate: Whitmer says Tudor Dixon is "dangerous"

Gov. Whitmer stands in front of Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and US Rep. Haley Stevens

Gov. Whitmer stands in front of Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and US Rep. Haley Stevens at Oakland University following the second Michigan gubernatorial debate. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer went on the offensive in Michigan's second and final gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, calling out Republican nominee Tudor Dixon for her views on COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Dixon is gaining ground after an impressive debate performance earlier this month, but Whitmer remains the favorite ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 8, according to the Cook Political Report.

  • Dixon hit Whitmer over high inflation she said is a result of "Biden/Whitmer policies." She promised to "bring education back in Michigan" and proposed a comprehensive 25-hour tutoring program for every child to get back on track following COVID-19 school shutdowns.
  • Dixon criticized Whitmer for a stretch of vetoes this summer, including a gas tax holiday proposal that would have saved drivers nearly 30-cents per gallon this summer.
  • She also called on Whitmer to push back against what she describes as inappropriate books in schools, a topic that's brought chaos to Michigan schools boards this fall.

Meanwhile, Whitmer accused Dixon of espousing dangerous ideas and called her out for repeating baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election before she was a candidate.

  • "Her plans are downright dangerous," Whitmer said. "Do you really think books are more dangerous than guns?"
  • The governor accused Dixon of spreading conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines and the results of the 2020 election. She also hit Dixon over her party's refusal to consider gun safety laws that would require safe storage of firearms.
  • It's one of the many gun bills sitting in the state legislature that Republican lawmakers in Michigan have blocked following the Oxford High School shooting.

Between the lines: This was the first debate in front of a statewide audience. The Oct. 13 debate in Grand Rapids wasn’t televised in Metro Detroit, the state’s largest TV market and half the population.

  • It was a disadvantage for Dixon, who desperately needs the exposure.

Catch up quick: Most observers said Dixon won the first debate.

  • The debates have given Dixon a platform to prove she is a legitimate candidate in a way the Republican candidates for attorney general, Matt DePerno, and secretary of state, Kristina Karamo — who haven't been able to agree to terms to debate the incumbents— have not.

What we're watching: Dixon has gained ground in a number of polls, but is still lagging with two weeks until Election Day.

  • Whitmer maintains a huge total fundraising advantage ($31,627,111 to $2,364,491) as well as cash on hand ($14,010,430 to $523,930).
  • RGA has a new ad for Dixon but the pro-Dixon airtime still pales in comparison to what Whitmer has from outside groups. She just got a boost from former President Obama, who mis-pronounced the term used for the state's residents in the ad from Put Michigan First, a group funded by the DGA.
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