By John Haughey
Tudor Dixon, a former steel sales manager and conservative commentator, parlayed a late-campaign endorsement from former President Donald Trump into a runaway win in Michigan’s Aug. 2 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Dixon will challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who did not face a primary test and has raised nearly $30 million since her first election in 2018. Dixon enters the three-month run to November having raised $1.2 million and spending $2.3 million.
Dixon, a first-time political candidate, emerged from a field of five contestants—down from an original 10—to score twice the votes second-place Kevin Rinke had collected to be declared the winner about an hour after polls closed.
With more than 439,689 votes counted—about 34 percent of the turnout—Dixon had 40 percent of the tally, Rinke 20.9 percent, chiropractor Garrett Soldano 19.3 percent, businessman Ryan Kelley 15.7 percent, and Oakland County pastor Ralph Rebandt 4.2 percent.
The Michigan Republican Party Committee declared Dixon the primary winner in a tweet shortly after 9 p.m., calling her “our gubernatorial candidate and the next governor of our state.”
“A congratulations to Tudor Dixon who won a hard-fought primary race to take on Gretchen Whiter this fall,” Michigan Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser said in a statement.
A conservative online news anchor, Dixon founded Lumen News, a “pro-America, pro-Constitution” morning news program broadcast on Facebook.
She transitioned from unknown outsider to frontrunner amid the crowded GOP gubernatorial pack when Trump praised her, but none of the other hopefuls, at an April rally in Macomb County.
Trump, however, didn’t formally endorse Dixon until July 29, although she had been airing for months a TV ad of his April praise for her, which may have proven pivotal in separating herself from a crowded field of also relative little-knowns.
A mid-July Detroit News-WDIV TV poll found 38 percent of likely Republican primary voters were undecided. Of that constituency, 63 percent said Trump’s endorsement was very important or somewhat important in deciding who they would vote for on Aug. 2.
Dixon’s platform includes expanding school choice and empowering parents. Her campaign received a seminal endorsement and campaign support from former Trump U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Other proposals include eliminating the state’s personal income tax and replacing public school diversity, equity, and inclusion consultants with armed security.
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