Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

Debate Watchers Not Seeing A GOP Standout; 2 More Debates Planned

05/16/22 05:26 PM By John Reurink

(Source: MIRS.news, Published, Fri., May 13, 2022). The first GOP gubernatorial debate post filing deadline, which was held in Livingston County Thursday, saw some candidates take stances on the issues on the table, but failed to see any of the candidates seize the day.  However, there are still chances at two upcoming debates.


Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tori Sachs, Grass Roots Midwest CEO Adrian Hemond, and Michigan Democratic Spokesperson Rodericka Applewhaite all said it was a misstep that James Craig opted not to come after his campaign originally signaling on to organizers that he would.


“I think the big winner of the night was the governor,” Hemond said. “There wasn’t much said last night that is appealing to a general electorate, but there was plenty that was said that was not.”


He also said some of the comments coming out of the debate could be used against them in the general election.


“There’s a lot of wacky stuff that got said last night,” Hemond said.


Applewaite agreed.


“Last night’s [Thursday] debate didn’t really clear anything up because everyone was stepping all over each other in the same extreme lanes on culture war issues rather than solutions for the kitchen table issues that Michiganders care about,” she said.


Both Sachs and Hemond pointed to Garrett Soldano as being the most charismatic candidate during the debate.


“If he could get his hands on some money, he would be really strong,” Hemond said.


Sachs said the real winner of the night was that every Republican on the stage took a stance to put parents and students first when it comes to education.


“I think they all had great things and I could say something nice about them all,” Sachs said.


Applewaite said the Democrats are ready to go against any of the candidates, regardless of which one comes out on top.


“I think we are in a position of strength against any of them on any day,” she said.


Sachs said it was clear from the crowd size that there is excitement among the Republicans in the midterms.


She said the missed opportunity of the night was not tying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the issue of inflation through President Joe Biden.


“She helped him get elected and she’s contributing to the policies that are creating inflation. Republicans at the state level do have some solutions that she has derailed and they need to make that connection a little more clear for voters,” Sachs said.


The solutions Sachs referred to are the tax cuts that have been vetoed, and she said some of the candidates mentioned those, but missed an opportunity to tie the issue to Whitmer.


Hemond said he thought the biggest damage of the night came to Perry Johnson, who has been seeking an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, not taking a strong stance on the 2020 election.


“I assume that the former President knew about that before he went to bed last night and I think Johnson probably just waved his chances of a Trump endorsement goodbye last night,” he said.


He felt that Capt. Michael Brown came off more like a conservative Democrat from 20 years ago along the lines of Doug Spade, who is running for state Senate, and Dudley Spade.


“He would not have been out of place then, but obviously there’s not much place in the Democratic Party for pro-life politicians anymore,” he said.


He also said Tudor Dixon missed her shot to shine.


However, there are still two more debates scheduled.


The next scheduled debate will be hosted by Stand Up Michigan! and Citizens Liberating Michigan and will be held at the Park Place Hotel, 300 E. State St., in Traverse City starting at 3 p.m. May 28.  Eric Lloyd, political reporter for 9 & 10 News, and Tammy Clark, vice president of Stand Up Michigan!, will serve as moderators.


So far seven of the 10 candidates, Brown, Dixon, Ryan Kelley, Michael Markey Jr., Ralph Rebrandt, Kevin Rinke, and Soldano, have confirmed they would attend.  All of the candidates had been invited to attend.


The third debate will be hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and held at 4:30 p.m. June 2 during the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.


The debate only invited five of the 10 candidates at the top of a poll released May 2 by the Glengariff Group.  Craig, Johnson, Kelley, Rinke, and Soldano were the initial invitees.


Catia Sabak, spokesperson for the chamber, said that list could change and wasn’t set in stone.


“If someone declines, or drops out, before the debate the list could absolutely change,” Sabak said.


She also said the list could change if future polls are changed by something along the way.


The Glengariff Group poll of 500 Republicans still puts Craig at the top of the pack, even though his campaign has come under scrutiny. (See, “Craig Suggests He Was Victim Of Fraud” 5/10/22)


The poll showed Craig with more than 50% name recognition and Johnson and Kelley with over 40% name recognition. Craig had the largest percentage of support with 23% and Soldano is in second with just over 8%.  However, more than 44% were still undecided.


Rinke, Kelley, and Johnson were all polling just over 5%.  Brown and Brandenburg were polling at 2% and Dixon just under 2%.  Rebrandt was just under 1% and Markey was at 0.2%.


Craig, Johnson, and Dixon still face petition challenges and could wind up not being on the ballot, which was addressed by the poll. Hemond said he believes the Craig campaign is coasting on fumes and he won’t make it to the ballot.


A surprising find from the poll was that among Craig supporters more than 30% said they did not have a second choice and nearly the same amount would be undecided if Craig did not make the ballot.  About 12% of his supporters would end up in the Johnson camp and about 9% in the Rinke camp.


Among the Johnson supporters, nearly 27% would end up in the Craig camp and just over 19% in the Rinke camp. Nearly 31% said they wouldn’t have a second choice or would be undecided.


If Dixon didn't make the ballot, just over 44% of her supporters in the poll would end up in the Brown camp or Soldano camp.


Post Governor Debate Leftovers


With so many morsels to digest in last night's eight-persons Republican gubernatorial debate, there are some leftover thoughts to ponder in the post debate light of day.


GTO candidate Kevin Rinke was asked how he would pay for the total elimination of the state income tax on his first month in office assuming he is elected and the Legislature would move fast enough to wipe out the tax. Two assumptions that his detractors would argue are real.


In his initial roll-out of the tax cut, he neglected to list any areas of the budget he would slice and dice and he continued to sing that same tune on Thursday night noting that he would have to do that in concert with the legislature.


However, as any seasoned Lansing observer will quickly explain, it is first the governor's job to present a budget to the legislators before the back and forth commences. "The governor proposes and the legislature disposes," is the mantra for dealing with budgets that, in this case, would include a whooping shortfall of revenue minus the income tax.


 If elected he could try to dodge the "where will I cut state services" bullet by leaving it out of his budget, but chances are lawmakers will want him to lead the parade first.


On the gay rights front, the Michigan business leaders has made it very clear that they want to expand state law to be more inclusive for the gay community so as to expand Michigan's attractiveness to all segments of the working population.


So the biz leaders must have watched with great interest when the candidates all said they would oppose expanding the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Law to include more protections for the LGBTQ citizens.


It was a rapid series of one “no” after another with the only deviation coming from Michigan State Police Capt. Michael Brown who suggested those rights were already enshrined in state law.


Needless to say the backers of the ELCRL would disagree which is why they are still pushing this agenda