The Rev. Ralph Rebandt participates in a GOP gubernatorial debate as part of the Mackinac Island Policy Conference, June 2, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins
Late Wednesday evening, the Rev. Ralph Rebandt became the third GOP gubernatorial candidate to concede to right-wing commentator Tudor Dixon — and the second to call into question the validity of the election results.
Far-right activist Ryan Kelley has still yet to concede. In a text message exchange with the Advance Wednesday, Kelley baselessly claimed there were “unprecedented oddities” in the election process and hinted that the Michigan GOP “predetermined” Dixon’s win.
Unofficial election returns in the five-person race show Dixon, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump days before Election Day, received 40.6% of the vote. Businessman Kevin Rinke had 22%; chiropractor Garrett Soldano received 17.9%, Kelley received 15.4% and the Rev. Ralph Rebandt came in at 4.2%.
Dixon will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 8 in the general election.
Rinke and Soldano both conceded Tuesday night, while Kelley said he is “NOT CONCEDING!”
In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Rebandt joined Rinke and Soldano with a concession of his own, but called into question the results of one county in particular.
“As most of you know, there was some curious activity that took place in the election [Tuesday] evening,” Rebandt said after congratulating Dixon on her win.
He went on to claim that Bay County was initially called in his favor, but the number of votes for him decreased as the night went on. With 100% of precincts reporting, Rebandt came in last in Bay County; Dixon won it by 32.5%, per unofficial returns.
He called for the Dixon campaign to assist his own as they “work to discover what took place in Bay County.”
“It is important that we get this figured out before November so that when [Democratic Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer is defeated by Tudor Dixon, there will be no question in the mind of our citizens,” Rebandt said.
There is no evidence to support claims that the Tuesday election was not secure or fair.
Also questioning Tuesday’s results is Republican real estate manager Mike Detmer, who was endorsed by Trump but lost by 15 points in a state Senate primary to state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton). Like Kelley, he is refusing to concede.
“Pay attention establishment RINOs,” Detmer said in a social media post. “We know you brokered deals with the Democrats to cross over and vote to protect your own yesterday. Don’t try to sell the grassroots this ‘unity’ crap.
“ … There will only be unity once primaries are CLOSED in Michigan, true America First Patriots are elected and our elections are totally secured,” he continued.
From the first inklings of some GOP candidates choosing not to concede, there have been signs of turmoil within the party around the concept of unity.
“This is absolutely irresponsible. There’s a lot at stake this fall and @MIGOP will continue to unite all Republicans behind @TudorDixon, our next Governor,” Michigan GOP spokesperson Gus Portela wrote on Twitter in response to Kelley’s refusal to concede.
Dixon also appeared to address the issue Wednesday morning during an interview on WOOD radio.
“We all said that we would unite. We all committed to that. And we need to make sure that we are doing that,” Dixon said.
The Michigan Republican Party held a “unity” luncheon at a Lansing restaurant on Wednesday, as is tradition, to emphasize this point. Dixon and Rinke were present. Soldano was absent, but a spokesperson for the Republican said his absence didn’t mean anything.
Also present for the gathering were Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, GOP Attorney General nominee Matthew DePerno, Secretary of State nominee GOP Kristina Karamo and GOP former Gov. John Engler, who had endorsed Dixon.
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