Insider: Tudor Dixon weighs campaign for Michigan GOP chair

Tudor Dixon, the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for governor, said in a Saturday statement that people are encouraging her to run to be the next chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and she's considering the idea.

Dixon, a political commentator from Norton Shores, revealed the update a day after The Detroit News reported GOP attorney general candidate Matt DePerno and former Detroit police Chief James Craig have also been evaluating campaigns for party chair.

"I believe in a bright future for Michigan where we forge a path to win Republican majorities again through family-friendly policies," Dixon said. "I will be announcing my plans in the coming days. I appreciate the encouragement and continued feedback."

Ron Weiser, the party's current chairman, is not expected to seek another two-year term. The next chair will be selected by Republican delegates at a convention in February.

Dixon lost to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by 10 percentage points on Election Day, which brought a string of historic victories for Michigan Democrats. For the first time in 40 years, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and state Senate.

A Thursday memo from Paul Cordes, the chief of staff for the Michigan Republican Party, blamed the GOP's midterm losses on Dixon's performance at the top of the ticket and an internal power struggle.

Dixon under-performed other GOP candidates and failed to keep the governor's race close enough to give Republicans "a chance at keeping majorities in both chambers," Cordes wrote in his memo. However, Dixon said the memo was "the perfect example" of what was wrong with the Michigan Republican Party.

"It’s easy to come out and point fingers now, but the truth is they fought against me every step of the way and put the entire ticket at risk," Dixon tweeted. "We need fresh leadership at the @MIGOP or Republicans will never have a voice in Michigan again."

Dixon said after the memo was released, "a number of people" reached out to her about running for party chair.

But John Yob, a longtime Republican consultant who has been heavily involved in past state GOP conventions, cast doubt on Dixon's bid Saturday evening.

"She will lose the convention by far more than she lost to Whitmer," Yob tweeted.

If Dixon gets in the race, the campaign could test her popularity among Michigan Republicans, who appeared to warm to her in the closing weeks of her bid for governor against Whitmer. But it could also mean two former candidates previously endorsed by ex-President Donald Trump will be matched up: Dixon and DePerno.

DePerno lost to Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel by 8 percentage points.

Memo points to polling misfires

In the final four weeks of the election, a narrative emerged from Republicans that Dixon was closing in on Whitmer in the polls.

On Oct. 24, the Dixon campaign circulated a Trafalgar Group poll showing a 48%-48% statistical tie in the race for governor that was purportedly conducted Oct. 18-21.

"Dixon is surging, with the momentum on her side and independent voters breaking in her favor," Dixon's campaign claimed in an Oct. 24 news release.

But the Michigan Republican Party was seeing very different numbers that same week, according to the Thursday memo by Cordes.

Cordes' election post-mortem said the state party's internal polling from Oct. 20-23 showed Dixon trailing Whitmer by nearly 9 percentage points. That margin was narrower than an Oct. 8-9 poll showing Dixon down nearly 15 points, Cordes said.

"Our internal polling showed Tudor Dixon able to marginally close the gap over the last month, but unlike some pollsters, we never showed her within striking distance," Cordes wrote.

A poll is a snapshot in time and not an indicator of voter turnout or a predictor of the final election results. Public polling released during this time period caused Real Clear Politics to move its race prediction to "GOP Pick-Up."

The final Glengariff Group statewide poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV (Channel 4) was conducted Oct. 26-28, after the final Whitmer-Dixon debate that aired in the Metro Detroit television market. That survey found Whitmer leading Dixon by 8.6 points. The poll of 600 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

On Election Day, Trafalgar Group published another poll that the Dixon campaign touted showing her leading the governor by three-tenths of a percentage point. The poll had a purported margin of error of 2.9 points.

Later that day, Whitmer beat Dixon by 10.5 percentage points.

College students wait hours to vote

University students were at the polls late into Tuesday night in some of Michigan’s biggest college towns, making up a portion of the record 4.5 million voters who participated in the midterm election.

In Ann Arbor, the last University of Michigan student voted at 2:05 a.m. Wednesday at a satellite office on campus after waiting in line for six hours, according to The Michigan Daily.

At Michigan State University, the last ballot on the East Lansing campus was cast at 12:09 a.m. Wednesday by a student who’d gotten into line just before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Michigan law allows voters who are in line by 8 p.m. on Election Day to stay in line and vote. That allowance includes individuals in line to take advantage of same-day registration in order to cast an absentee ballot, said Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office.

Ann Arbor's satellite clerk's offices recorded 1,456 Election Day registrations Tuesday and 1,832 Election Day ballots, according to the University of Michigan.

A total of 2,690 students filled out their ballots at voting locations on MSU's campus and “tens of thousands more are anticipated to have voted at their primary residence or by absentee,” MSU said in a statement. The university said its student voter turnout has increased from an estimated 17% in 2014 to 76% in 2020.

The university had four voting locations on campus this year — Brody Hall, where a satellite clerk’s office was located, the MSU Student Union, Intramural Sports-East and Intramural Sports-West.

In Allendale, the township clerk partnered with Grand Valley State University to set up a satellite office on the campus and “had amazing voter turnout.” The last voter at the satellite office cast their ballot a little after 11 p.m., Allendale Township clerk Jody Hansen said.

More than 340 absentee ballots were issued on Election Day in Allendale Township, Hansen said.

Dingell, McClain make leadership runs

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell
, D-Ann Arbor, wrote to colleagues Thursday asking for support in her bid to be vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

"I am running because our Caucus needs a unifying voice at the leadership table who speaks for the working families who feel left behind, a leader who will fight for all our colleagues, and a worker who delivers results," she wrote. "Our Caucus must continue to do a better job earning the support of working-class families in this country, and my home state of Michigan has proven this is a way Democrats win."

Dingell touted Michigan Democrats' wins in Tuesday's midterms, winning three swing districts and nearly taking a fourth for the U.S. House, and at the state level sweeping the three statewide offices and control of the Legislature.

She promised to listen to members of the caucus so that all may influence strategy and messaging and know the needs of their office and their district matter. Others running for the vice chair post include U.S. Reps Ted Lieu of California and Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania.

Dingell, who just won her fifth term, has served as co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain
, R-Bruce Township, also is running for leadership, seeking to be secretary of the House Republican Conference. McClain, a freshman who serves on the GOP whip team, wrote to colleagues touting her business experience and legislative record and saying she is "grateful to have the support of the vast majority of this Conference."