Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wins re-election, defeating GOP challenger Tudor Dixon

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wins re-election, defeating GOP challenger Tudor Dixon

Governor Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican hopeful Tudor Dixon on Tuesday, securing her re-election bid and now a top Democrat in the critical swing state, according to NBC News’ drafts.

Whitmer, who gained a national following in the early days of the pandemic and is seen as a future contender for higher office, had been seen as a prime target for Republicans in 2022.

Polls have tightened in recent weeks. But Whitmer held on, boosted by tens of millions of dollars in ad spend that Dixon, a former right-wing commentator endorsed by former President Donald Trump, never matched.

Whitmer addressed her supporters just after 1 a.m. ET Wednesday, before most media had called the race, and paused before celebrating, indicating she was expecting more results. She officially declared victory in a speech a few hours later.

“I won’t make any predictions for the next four years,” Whitmer said. “But I can promise you this: We’ll make Michigan a place where you can imagine your future, a state where anyone, no matter who they are, where they’re from, how much money they have in their pocket, who he likes or how they identify – can thrive here.”

Dixon conceded Wednesday morning. Her campaign said she called Whitmer.

“Michigan’s future success rests not with elected officials or the government, but with all of us,” Dixon said. “We all have a responsibility to help our children read, support law enforcement and grow our economy.”

Whitmer, who made the shortlist as Joe Biden sought a 2020 running mate, has been the subject of future White House speculation. She’s also been a frequent foil for Trump — “that woman from Michigan,” he disdainfully called her during the Covid-19 shutdowns. And she was the target of a kidnapping plot by men unhappy with her restrictions during the pandemic.

Trump has given few states as much attention as he has given Michigan, which Biden won by an estimated 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points, in 2020. He endorsed a slate of top candidates down, many of whom were outspoken election deniers, and in the closing days of the GOP primary for governor, he endorsed Dixon, who had been tiptoeing around the 2020 issue while engaging in unfounded conspiracy theories that cast doubt on the results.

“I think there has been enough fraud in the election that we need to be concerned and we need to have strong election laws that the legislature has passed to ensure that our elections will be fair in the future,” a- she told MLive in July.

Tudor Dixon addresses the Detroit Economic Club on October 21.
Tudor Dixon addresses the Detroit Economic Club on October 21. Carlos Osorio/AP

Dixon walked out of the main field after several more viable candidates were disqualified and Michigan’s influential DeVos family – including Betsy DeVos, who resigned as Trump’s education secretary after the Jan. 6 uprising – gave him financial support.

Rather than veer to center after snagging the nomination, Dixon relied more on her socially conservative stances and willingness to wage the culture wars. On primary night, she pushed Whitmer’s support for transgender rights by referring to the governor by the gender-neutral term “biological parent” and questioning who was the “real woman” in the race.

Early general election polls showed Whitmer leading, helped by money his campaign and an outside group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association had put on the airwaves in Michigan. Despite Michigan’s swing state status, Republicans have been slow to invest there and have never caught up with spending on the other side. Even so, polls showed a tighter race brewing over the past week.

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