Michigan's race for governor: Meet GOP candidate Garrett Soldano
Michigan's primary election is August 2. There are five candidates trying to win the Republican Party's nomination to challenge Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the November election.
As part of Michigan Radio's Election 2022 coverage, we're speaking to those candidates on Morning Edition.
Garrett Soldano is a chiropractor and owns his own business in Kalamazoo.
Soldano spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou.
Doug Tribou: You're a small business owner, and the economy is one of the issues that you've emphasized most during your campaign. What are your top concerns about Michigan's economy and what changes would you propose?
GS: Number one, what we're going to do is, we're going to make sure that no governor can weaponize the health department again, because who in their right mind would want to come back to the state of Michigan with the threat of a lockdown or restrictions in the next cold and flu season? So we have to limit that power of the government.
Under a Republican legislature, what has gone up substantially is our budget, and the spending is out of control. We need to do forensic accounting on that budget, so we can put as much money back [to] Michiganders as possible. And we need to cut regulations.
DT: You mentioned a forensic budget audit. The state has a budget office, a nonpartisan office that reviews all of the spending documents or budget legislation. What are you looking for beyond that?
GS: Well, it's forensic accounting. It's not even an audit. It's going line by line and looking at where we're spending this money and especially with the overspending that's going on. And if you look what's happened over the past two years, especially with the COVID relief money, they continue to spend all this money on these programs and it's not sustainable. We have a mass exodus of people leaving the state, businesses and families, and that's tax revenue leaving the state.
DT: The state of Michigan has a budget surplus totaling billions of dollars, in part because of what you mentioned, the federal stimulus money that has come in. It has also collected more state tax revenue than initially anticipated. Both Republicans and Democrats in Lansing now have said that they're open to considering tax cuts, including the governor. How would you deal with that budget surplus or what kind of cuts would you impose?
GS: We should be investing into our infrastructure right now. We should be investing into making sure that these communities aren't drinking lead in their water, like Benton Harbor, Flint and so forth.
Now, if you guys are familiar with the [state's] SOAR [Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve] fund, they're actually using taxpayer dollars to bribe these big corporations to come back here and do business. And that just doesn't make sense. Why don't we make Michigan so business friendly and so attractive that we're not using taxpayer dollars to bribe these companies in doing corporate welfare?
DT: So you're not in favor of incentives for businesses. What would you do to make the state more attractive?
GS: We have to do what we need to do right now to get jobs back. We put ourselves in such a hole. We lost 11,000 jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee. We just lost some jobs in Indiana. Well, if we don't stop this insanity, if we don't start investing in long-term solutions, then we're going to be dead in the water. So again, what we have to do is attract these businesses back here.
DT: Yes, but how would you do that?
GS: Well, exactly what I just said. Making sure that no governor can weaponize the health department, cutting regulations, going through forensic accounting. We need to eliminate the state income tax.
"We want to make sure that these criminals and these evil people of the world know if they come through those doors, there's going to be a fistfight in a phone booth."Garrett Soldano on his support for single-point entry at all schools and allowing teachers to carry concealed guns
DT: Changes under Michigan's auto no-fault law have been devastating the system of care for people who were catastrophically injured in car crashes. The law reduced fees for care providers. And many of them are now going out of business and people are losing care that they had counted on. Your chiropractic business accepts insurance, even mentions working with people in auto accidents on your website. Maybe that's not in catastrophic situations, but I do wonder about whether you would support revisions to the law to continue care for people who were severely injured before it was enacted?
GS: Absolutely. 100%. Look, the law did not work the way that they wanted to or [do] what they told us. And we have to basically go in there and just reform that because these people, these catastrophic claims are just getting hammered. I can understand the insurance companies need to make money. That's just how this country works. But we should not be stealing all this money, especially the excessive amount from these doctors, these nurse practitioners, these physical therapists, and, more importantly, the patients.
DT: We've seen a string of mass shootings in schools here in the U.S., including the one at Oxford High School last year here in Michigan. You support Second Amendment rights. Would you support any changes to gun laws in Michigan that might have prevented the kinds of school shootings and other shootings that we've seen in the U.S. recently?
GS: Yeah, I want to get constitutional carry through in the state of Michigan. Those are the gun laws that I'm going to change. I'm 100% pro-Second Amendment.
A law-abiding citizen, 22 years old, just stopped a mass shooting. I think it was [in] Indiana. The [shooter] came in there with a long gun. Unfortunately, I think he shot three people. But that law-abiding citizen stopped it. So gun restrictions do not keep the guns away from these criminals. We need to make sure that we're bringing common sense to this thing, and I will always, always stand for the Second Amendment.
DT: But you believe that common sense, in this case, would just be sort of leaving things as they are or making it easier to carry?
GS: Oh, constitutional carry, we're going to get through [the legislative process].
DT: What was your response to the Uvalde shooting? We're hearing more and more reports in these recent weeks. There were about 400 armed officers there, but no one was able to make the decision to slow or stop the shooter at that school shooting. There were plenty of guns there, yet nothing was achieved by them.
GS: Well, we're going to have to allow the judicial process to go through and see what mistakes were made. And that's the problem. You know, we got guns that protect the president, gun to protect the governor, guns that protect congressmen and women. But we have schools that are gun-free school zones. And when evil comes to that door, we call the people with the guns. And unfortunately, in this situation, the people with the guns didn't react the way that I think they should have.
But bottom line, we need to secure our schools. We need one-point entry. We need one-point entry in the parking lot, making sure if they need security resource officers. I am all for it if administrators and teachers want to get the proper training to [carry a concealed gun]. We want to make sure that these criminals and these evil people of the world know if they come through those doors, there's going to be a fistfight in a phone booth.
DT: I think of the school where one of my three kids goes. Two parking lots, multiple [points of] sidewalk access. Are you suggesting we sort of lock down the schools into a sort of a compound situation? I mean, part of the beauty of neighborhood schools is being able to walk to them. Are you suggesting we funnel everything through one way in?
GS: Hey, just like you build a wall at the southern border, right? You're going to stop the invasion that's happening. But you put entrances along that wall so people can come through that entrance legally. There's no difference in the school. My kids' school, there's one-point entry. You only have one entry that can go in that school.
DT: On your campaign website, you have a section titled "Election Integrity," and you mention the 2020 presidential election. You write, "An audit of the 2020 election will unveil the truth, identify ways to improve our voting process and help restore faith in future elections." Do you believe that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election?
GS: You know, with with everything that happened in the 2020 election, I stand behind my comments that we need to audit everything.
DT: Will you accept the results of the primary next month? Win or lose?
GS: Absolutely. 100%. You know why? Because my movement has recruited thousands of licensed election inspectors. And we also activated our movement of hundreds of thousands of people to get involved these elections and make sure that they're secure. So, I absolutely 100% will honor the results of the primary and the general because our people are involved with it.
Editor's note: Quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity. You can hear the full interview near the top of this page.