'Expect more TV ads' on Tudor Dixon's behalf, key GOP group leader says

Republican Tudor Dixon, who's challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this fall, will soon see more financial support from a powerful GOP group, one of its co-chairmen said Friday.

A day after the first debate between Dixon and Whitmer, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, co-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said the organization, which works to elect GOP candidates across the country, is "going to do what it takes to get Tudor Dixon over the finish line."

"You can expect more TV ads," Ducey told The Detroit News. "You can expect more investment."

Dixon, a first time candidate and political commentator from Norton Shores, has been at a significant financial disadvantage in her race against Whitmer, an incumbent with a national profile. Whitmer's reelection campaign and the Democratic Governors Association had already aired about $14 million in ads as of Sept. 20, according to one ad-tracking analysis. Dixon's allies had funded about $1 million in ads in the general election race at that time.

Dixon's campaign has not had the money to finance its own commercials to respond to the Democratic attacks or introduce her to voters.

As of Aug. 22, Whitmer reported having $14 million available in her campaign fundraising account, 26 times the total disclosed by Dixon, $523,930.

A Sept. 26-29 poll by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed Dixon trailing Whitmer by 17 percentage points, 32% to 49%. The survey of 600 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. However, 12% of participants in the poll were undecided, meaning if they break toward Dixon in the remaining weeks, the Nov. 8 election could be significantly closer.

The RGA announced its first ad of the general election race on Tuesday, four weeks before Election Day. Entitled "Time For A Change,” the ad is part of "a seven-figure broadcast and cable campaign that will air across Michigan," according to the association.

Dixon's supporters on Friday celebrated her performance at the first debate, which took place a night earlier in Grand Rapids. Dixon, her running mate, Shane Hernandez, and Ducey spoke at a campaign rally Friday afternoon at Barrister Gardens in St. Clair Shores. About 250 people were in the crowd.

Dixon's remarks focused heavily on education, vowing to fight for students.

Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, who's running for the state Senate, also spoke at the event, saying if Dixon is elected, Republicans could have majorities in the House and Senate along with holding the governor's office.

"We can, from day one, start overhauling education from the top to the bottom," Hornberger said.

She mentioned changing policies on curriculum, testing and how teachers are trained at universities.

In a statement on Thursday night, Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said Dixon would "dismantle public schools" and put education in Michigan under the control of Betsy DeVos, who served as education secretary under former President Donald Trump and whose family has endorsed Dixon.

"Michigan families deserve someone who will fight for them, and Gov. Whitmer showed once again she is the only candidate in the race who they can count on," Barnes said of the debate.

But Ducey said it was Dixon who won Thursday's debate.

"She was incredibly poised," he said. "She’s a first time candidate against a sitting incumbent governor who was back on her heels, who was nervous, who was defensive, who doesn’t have a plan for the next four years."