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Tudor Dixon wins Republican gubernatorial primary, will face Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Republican candidate Tudor Dixon will be facing incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November's gubernatorial election. With 19.4% of precincts counted, the Associated Press projected her as the winner of the race at 9:43 p.m. Tuesday.

Dixon bested a field of candidates that included Kevin Rinke, Ralph Rebandt, Ryan Kelley, and Garrett Soldano. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Dixon late last week.

The win sets up a tough general election race against Whitmer, who has millions in her campaign fund. Dixon defeated four male candidates in a race between little-known Republicans.

Dixon is the first woman to win the Republican nomination for governor, according to Gongwer News Service.

In her victory speech Tuesday night, Dixon sought to tie Whiter to some of the struggles of Joe Biden's presidency. "Whitmer has cheered the Biden policy while he’s pushed us into a recession," she said. "She’s been ridin’ with Biden while he’s been riding our economy into the ground."

Dixon said she would loosen restrictions on oil and gas drilling as part of her plans for Michigan’s economy.

Whitmer for Governor Communications Director Maeve Coyle said if elected, Dixon would "drag Michigan backwards."

"Dixon’s plans to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother and throw nurses in jail, gut funding for public education, reverse progress rebuilding Michigan’s infrastructure and sow distrust in our democracy are dangerous for Michigan women and families," Coyle said in a statement.

The state Republican party congratulated Dixon on her victory. “It’s time to unite behind Tudor Dixon because Michiganders simply can’t afford four more years of her failures to fix the roads, provide real inflation relief to families, and prevent our children from falling behind on their education," Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser said in a statement. "Tudor Dixon is the real leader that Michigan needs and parents can count on her to usher in a new era of prosperity and opportunity for all.”

Over the next few weeks, Tudor Dixon has a big job ahead of her.

“Tudor Dixon has about 35 days, said Republican political pollster Richard Czuba. “By that, I mean she has just over a month to unify the Republican Party, to get through a convention and pick a lieutenant governor candidate, to raise a lot of money."

Doug Ducey and Pete Rickets, co-chairs of the national Republican Governors Association, said Dixon's nomination is significant. "Michigan voters sent a clear message tonight that they are fed up with Gretchen Whitmer's rampant hypocrisy, complete disregard for transparency, and failed agenda which is making it harder for families to make ends meet," they said in a statement. "We couldn't be more excited to support Tudor Dixon this fall to end Whitmer's disastrous tenure."

The Democratic Governors Association said it would throw its support behind Whitmer in November's general election. Tudor Dixon's legislative agenda would end up "forcing cuts to vital services like roads and law enforcement," the association's Executive Director Noam Lee said in a statement. "She also supports a total abortion ban — even calling a teenage survivor of incest the 'perfect example' of why she supports zero exceptions."

“The DGA is committed to holding Dixon accountable for her toxic record and dangerous positions,” said Lee.

Republican candidate Garrett Soldano was the first of Dixon's opponents to concede. "As I have stated from the beginning, Republicans throughout the state must be focused on retiring Gretchen Whitmer," he said. "I will be casting my vote for Tudor Dixon in November. I call on all Republicans to continue fighting, and together we will defeat Gretchen Whitmer in November."

Candidate Kevin Rinke also conceded Tuesday night. "While tonight’s results are not what we had hoped for, the people of Michigan have decided on another candidate, and I want to congratulate [Tudor Dixon] on her victory," he wrote. "My hope for the state of Michigan remains unchanged and I look forward to continuing our family's work of bettering the state we love so much."

Corrected: August 3, 2022 at 12:09 AM EDT
This story originally attributed a statement by Whitmer for Governor Communications Director Maeve Coyle to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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