AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn
One of the most high-profile gubernatorial contests this election cycle is in Michigan, where incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is facing off against Republican nominee Tudor Dixon. While most polls and pundits have Whitmer comfortably ahead in the race, Dixon is betting that her message of creating a “family-friendly Michigan” and voter backlash against Whitmer’s far-left policies will deny Whitmer a second term. Dixon will be aided in her efforts on Saturday when former President Donald Trump travels to the state to hold a rally for her and other Trump-endorsed candidates, kicking off the last full month of campaigning.
From even before her decision to run for public office, family has been a major motivating factor for Dixon. A mother of four, Dixon shifted away from a successful career in the steel industry to one in conservative media after seeing her daughters’ schools become breeding grounds for toxic far-left ideologies like Critical Race Theory and radical gender theory. Dixon has also often cited the pain she felt during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 when Democrat policies kept her from seeing her family as her grandmother—a pillar of support for her—passed away in a nursing home. It was only a few months later, in the spring of 2021, that Dixon decided to enter the race for governor.
On the economy, Dixon has structured her message around how easing the burdens of inflation and the ongoing economic recession will help families thrive and encourage more people to settle in Michigan. The Mitten State was one of only seven states to lose population in the past year, and it has had one of the slowest growth rates of any state over the past five years, losing a congressional seat in the last redistricting cycle.
Specifically, Dixon has called for a reduction in the personal income tax, an expansion of public-private workforce training opportunities, and a 40% reduction of regulations in four years. Dixon believes that by reversing many of Whitmer’s policies that raised taxes and regulations on businesses, companies will be incentivized to bring jobs and investment back to the state.
On education, Dixon has emphasized parents’ rights and greater transparency, a message similar to the one that helped boost Glenn Youngkin to the Governor’s Mansion in Virginia last year. (Youngkin even made several campaign stops with Dixon in September.)
Dixon has called on the state legislature to pass a new educational transparency law if she is elected that would require schools to post information about classroom instruction online, from the titles of books used in the classroom to any Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) curriculum. She has also outlined plans to use left-over COVID relief funds to provide one-on-one or small-group tutoring in reading and math for every student in Michigan to help students make up for learning loss as a result of school closures. Additionally, Dixon has called for the creation of education savings accounts to provide greater school choice for parents, so that students don’t remain trapped in failing schools.
Dixon also recognizes that community safety is critical to building a state that families want to live in. A 2021 report on crime from the Michigan state police found that violent crime has increased 9.2% in the past five years, a trend that shows signs of worsening in 2022. Motor vehicle theft alone has increased by 11.3% in the past five years. After Whitmer said she supported the “spirit” of the “Defund the Police” movement in 2020, Dixon has unveiled a $1 billion plan for funding and supporting law enforcement in Michigan. She has also called for a “zero tolerance” policy for rioters and an end to left-wing efforts to abolish cash bail that have wreaked havoc in other liberal states like New York and California.
Dixon’s proposed policies stand in stark contrast to those of Governor Whitmer, who has developed a reputation as one of the most far-left governors in the country. During the pandemic, Whitmer imposed some of the most stringent lockdowns of any state in the country – so extreme, in fact, that the Michigan Supreme Court declared her actions unconstitutional in October of 2020. Whitmer has also embraced President Joe Biden’s divisive rhetoric toward so-called “MAGA Republicans,” telling voters that “democracy is at stake” during a recent campaign rally. Following the Dobbs Supreme Court decision earlier this year, Whitmer has been an outspoken proponent of unrestricted abortion access, and has even petitioned the state Supreme Court to affirm the right to an abortion under the state constitution.
Also, while Whitmer enforced strict COVID rules, she did not always follow them herself, something Dixon is betting voters will keep in mind when they head to the ballot box. In March of 2021, Whitmer violated her own travel guidelines by secretly chartering a plane to Florida, later alleging that she was visiting her sick father (even as Michigan residents were barred from doing the same). An FAA investigation later found that the plane used was not authorized to operate charter flights. Then, in May of 2021, Whitmer was caught violating her COVID rules again when she was seen dining inside a crowded bar without a mask on.
Current polling has Whitmer leading Dixon by just under 10 points – not an insurmountable lead before Election Day, but a nonetheless significant advantage. With just a few weeks left in the campaign cycle, Dixon will need to close very strongly. But with Democrat extremism becoming more apparent by the day and the number of crises facing Americans only continuing to grow, voters may well decide that it’s time for a change in Lansing.
Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.
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