In Michigan, Tudor Dixon Tests Whether Trump Is Help or Hindrance

CLARKSTON, Mich. – As she runs to lead a narrowly divided nation, Tudor Dixon is pursuing a dangerous strategy in the race for governor of Michigan: embracing Donald J. Trump, and sometimes emulating style. his unlimited political ways.

She hit the campaign trail recently with former president Donald Trump Jr.’s son. and Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s one-time White House adviser – and, in Trumpian style, made headlines for mocking her Democratic opponentGovernor Gretchen Whitmer, about a 2020 kidnapping plot hatched against her by right-wing militia members.

In other appearances, Ms Dixon called for a ban on transgender girls from playing women’s and girls’ sports. And on a recent afternoon at a sports club in an affluent suburb northwest of Detroit, where a life-size cut-out photo of Mr. Trump stood at the door, she was promoting what called his American business policies first.

“America First – Michigan First – will bring Michigan back together,” she said.

The race for governor between Ms. Dixon and Ms. Whitmer has huge benefits for abortion rights, schools and the future of elections. It was history – the first time two women went head-to-head against each other for a spot in the state.

The contest is also a test of whether Ms. Dixon and other Republican candidates can win the general election by tapping into the root energies of Trump supporters that have brought them. to the top in crowded and chaotic primaries. That approach – which has been closely linked to Mr. Trump’s denialism and other political acts – worries some Michigan Republicans, who believe Ms. Dixon will not win. are the kind of suburban and independent voters who matter in tight races.

But it may be the only option she has. Vote early starting on Thursdayand when time ran out, Mrs. Dixon was short of cash, behind in the pollsis still working to bolster support among her Republican base and is televised by Democrats.

“Uphill, on icy roads,” said Dennis Darnoi, a longtime Republican strategist in Michigan, talking about her path to victory. “It’s been a challenge, with a month left, for her to create the kind of foundation she’s going to need.”

Ms. Dixon, who is expected to appear with Mr Trump at a rally on Saturday in Macomb County, appeared unfazed, considering her recent fundraising numbers high and her message. will ultimately resonate with voters more than she does. By Whitmer.

Asked about the challenges ahead for the Democratic campaign and massive spending numbers, Sara Broadwater, Ms. Dixon’s communications director, took the polls, saying they were not predict Trump’s 2016 victory.

“As Tudor said the day before in response to a similar question, ‘Is it sad that Democrats have to spend so much money? ” said Mrs Broadwater. “Gretchen Whitmer remained very vulnerable as pro-Dixon forces began returning fire and her campaign gained momentum.”

Not all Republicans closely aligned with Mr. Trump have struggled to navigate from the primaries to the general election. In Arizona, the Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, has taken a similar approach, and has narrowed her race to a deadly heat – but unlike Mrs. Dixon, she does not have to face an incumbent governor like Mrs. Whitmer.

Other candidates backed by Mr. Trump, such as Blake Masters in Arizona’s Senate race and Doug Mastriano in the race for governor of Pennsylvania, has fallen behind their Democratic rivals as they struggle to raise money. A hopeful Republican Senate, J.D. Vance, is facing a closer-than-expected race in Ohio.

Mr. Trump has maintained a keen interest in Michigan. He won the state in 2016 with less than 11,000 votes before losing to Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 by more than 154,000 votes.

Days before the Republican primaries in early August, Mr. Trump endorsed Ms. Dixon, a conservative media figure backed by the powerful DeVos family in Michigan.

Dixon, 45, a breast cancer survivor, worked as a steel industry executive until 2017, when she helped found Lumen Student News, a news production company. conservative television news and history lessons for middle and high school students.

In a radio interview in December 2021, she said she wanted to restore students’ faith in the country and fight what she described as “teaching” in schools. After helping to find Lumen, Dixon went on to host a news program, “America Voice Live,” on weekday afternoons.

Ms. Dixon said she became a strong critic of Ms. Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions when she saw their negative impact on the Michigan economy. Mrs. Dixon website state, after her grandmother died in a nursing home in Norton Shores, which was barred from visiting during the pandemic.

Ms Dixon, who delivered a comfortable person in front of an audience, has drawn criticism for spreading baseless claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election and for some of her stances on voter fraud. LGBTQ issuesincluding calling for “severe criminal penalties for adults who involve children in tug-of-war performances.”

On her website, she calls for a ban on school staff from talking to children in kindergarten through third grade “about gender and gender theory behind their parents’ backs”. And she said that abortion should only be allowed if it is necessary to save a mother’s lifenot a case of rape or incest.

Mrs. Dixon’s stance on abortion in particular – in a state of mind where voters tend to support abortion rights and in November will consider a ballot measure protect the right to abortion in the state Constitution – is a big reason some Republicans are nervous about her chances. They also fear that underperformance at the top of the ballot could cause the GOP to lose control of the State Legislature.

Michigan’s Republican Party has been in turmoil for months.

The party’s preliminary meeting is defined by fierce infighting between its founding and the Trump faction. The two go ahead for the governor eliminated for filing a petition with thousands of forged signatures. Another candidate is charged with four misdemeanors regarding the Capitol riots.

Mrs. Dixon managed to rally her hearty party behind her in the final weeks of the race. But even after winning the primaries, she remained a relatively unknown political outsider. It doesn’t help that at the GOP state congress the end of AugustOfficial Republican Party endorse two preachers of wrongdoing in the 2020 election for the state’s top offices: Matthew DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state.

The fierce battles, as well as the lack of financial network and campaign experience among the top Republican candidates, have made up for what Richard Czuba, an independent pollster in Lansing, Mich. called “the worst ticket I’ve seen from any party in 40 years.”

“It’s great to be running as an outsider, especially when you’re up against an incumbent,” Mr Czuba said. “But there are two sides to that coin. On the one hand, you can stay out against the establishment. On the other hand, you don’t know how to do this – and that’s what it shows. “

As the general election began, Democrats rushed to identify Ms. Dixon before she had a chance to identify herself. As Miss Whitmer has kept 14 million dollars At the end of August, after accounting for liabilities and expenses, the ending balance of Dixon is $523,000, according to the state’s latest available campaign finance report. Democratic groups have poured more than $41 million into TV ads since the August primaries, according to the company AdImpact, which analyzes campaign ad spend. Republic invested about $5.5 million.

Party leaders and national Republicans this week resisted any notion that the race was out of reach and that Ms. Dixon had to fend for herself. Last week, the Republican Party of Michigan began its biggest advert against Ms. Whitmer, try to draw she is “soft on crime.” Chris Gustafson, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, said they could soon join in with more ads, too.

“In Michigan historically, we’ve seen candidates in major races get knocked out in the polls only to come back victorious,” Mr Gustafson said. “We feel Tudor is a strong candidate with a good message. She is in a noticeable distance. “

At Ms. Dixon’s event at the sports club in Oakland County, a panel of former Trump administration officials sat against the tall glass walls of a serene, sunlit indoor pool. , as they go public with Mr. Biden’s economic policies and paint an astonishing picture of crime – flooding American cities and uncontrolled immigration at the Southwest border.

In a brief speech, Ms. Dixon highlighted what she characterized as “radical gender and sex theory” pervading schools and accused Ms Whitmer of providing tax incentives to put a Chinese company to Michigan, instead of an American company.

But most of all, she displays a rare dose of moderation, criticizing Mr. Whitmer’s pandemic restrictions and economic policies, rising crime in the state’s cities, and schools that don’t exist. Ms. Dixon said it was not possible to teach students to read and write adequately. Those were the kinds of remarks some established and moderate Republicans might hope for — and they also seemed to appease those in the room.

Susan Savich, 64, and her 24-year-old son, Jonathan, asked for a photo with Mrs. Dixon on their way out. They oppose schools teaching children anything but basic skills and traditional beliefs, they say, and Mr Savich likes that Ms Dixon is “education first”.

They are also relieved to hear that Mr. Trump is coming to the state. “Multiple sclerosis. Dixon is fighting a lot,” said Mr. Savich.


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