Dixon taps GOP former Rep. Shane Hernandez for LG

Republican sponsored several anti-abortion bills, called for so-called ‘forensic’ audit of 2020 election

By: - August 19, 2022 4:21 pm

Rep. Shane Hernandez at the Fiscal Year 2020 budget presentation | Casey Hull

Just 45 minutes before the Michigan GOP deadline and foregoing an in-person press conference, Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon announced on Twitter and Facebook that she has chosen former state Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) to serve as her running mate.

“Shane Hernandez as lieutenant governor will help to improve our schools, create safer communities, and improve our economy. Like me, Shane is concerned about the impact rising prices are having on our families,” Dixon said.

Gretchen Whitmer (left) and Garlin Gilchrist II (right) announcing the LGBTQ directive, Jan. 7, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Dixon will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 8. Her running mate is Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist of Detroit.

Hernandez was chair of the House Appropriations Committee and served two terms in the chamber after winning in 2016. In 2020, he launched a bid to run for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District and ultimately lost to now-U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Romeo).

He has since worked in the private sector. Dixon described Hernandez as “a conservative Republican who believes in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberties,” adding that she is “confident” GOP delegates will embrace him at the Aug. 27 convention.

“I am honored to run as Tudor’s running mate to address the problems created by Gretchen Whitmer,” Hernandez said in the statement. “Her vision is the right one for Michigan and I believe we will defeat Whitmer and begin to repair the damage she’s caused to our families, students, and business owners.”

Although Dixon won former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, some grassroots activists have questioned if she is far right enough and it’s unclear how her choice of Hernandez will play. She did not make the LG announcement on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform.

Dixon’s choice must still be approved by Michigan GOP delegates at the state convention in Lansing. If the party rejects her pick by not offering an “affirmative vote” for Hernandez, Dixon may address the convention, resubmit her choice or submit a new candidate for consideration.

Nominations may be submitted from the floor of the convention if Dixon’s second nomination is also rejected, according to party rules.

In past elections, this process has not always been smooth. In both 2010 and 2014, Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder faced backlash from tea party activists at the party conventions over his LG pick of Brian Calley.

Hernandez was one of many Republican lawmakers in Michigan to sow doubt about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. That December, he and 23 of his GOP House colleagues signed on to a letter calling for a “complete forensic assessment” of results while rehashing baseless allegations about the election.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon attends a Republican gubernatorial in Howell on May 13, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

The former lawmaker also has a record of supporting numerous GOP anti-abortion measures in the House, and was the primary sponsor of a bill that would have required abortion providers to offer a pregnant individual the option of hearing or seeing evidence of a fetal heartbeat.

“Like Tudor Dixon, Shane Hernandez poses a grave threat to the health and freedom of Michigan women. Hernandez’s record of working to criminalize doctors and nurses speaks for itself,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, emergency physician in west Michigan and Executive Director for the Committee to Protect Health Care.

In contrast to the Whitmer, who on Friday won an injunction on Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban, Dixon has made her anti-abortion stance a cornerstone of her campaign.

Names that had previously been floated for Dixon’s choice had been Jase Bolger, a Republican consultant and former Speaker of the Michigan House; Mike Bishop, GOP former Michigan U.S. House member; Anthony Forlini, a Macomb County clerk and former Republican member of the Michigan House; Willie Burton, a former National Basketball Association player from Bloomfield Hills; and state Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover).

The Rev. Ralph Rebandt, who finished fifth in the five-candidate Aug. 2 primary, signaled recently that he would consider accepting a nomination to be Dixon’s lieutenant governor.

Fourth-place primary finisher Ryan Kelley had also publicly weighed the option. He is a far-right activist facing misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley attends a Republican gubernatorial in Howell on May 13, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

After first saying he would not go for the spot, Kelley reconsidered this week and said he would be open to either the LG position or chair of the Michigan Republican Party. The latter position is currently held by Ron Weiser, with Trump ally Meshawn Maddock as co-chair.

On Friday afternoon prior to Dixon’s announcement, Kelley again announced that he will be switching gears and would not seek or accept the nomination for LG at the state convention.

Instead, he has turned his attention to defeating two constitutional amendment proposals: The Reproductive Freedom for All petition, which seeks to amend the state Constitution to protect reproductive freedom; and Promote the Vote 2022, which would expand voting rights and access for Michiganders.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).

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