Hernandez wins LG nomination after messy GOP convention, Youngkin headlines rally

By: - August 28, 2022 6:37 am

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigns with Republican nominee for Michigan governor Tudor Dixon in Lansing on Aug. 27, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

After a week of drama and a longer-than-expected GOP nominating convention Saturday that began with infighting among delegates, former state Rep. Shane Hernandez easily won the fight to be Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon’s running mate.

He had faced a challenge from the Rev. Ralph Rebandt, who finished fifth in the GOP gubernatorial race. Another GOP gubernatorial candidate, Garrett Soldano, had also considered a run before bowing out on Monday.

As expected, Republicans at the Lansing Center also formally nominated Dixon for governor, Matt DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state. They will face off on Nov. 8 against Democrats Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, respectively. 

Hours later during a rally on the Capitol lawn, Hernandez said he and Dixon “still have plenty of fight in us.”

Republican nominee for Michigan lieutenant governor Shane Hernandez campaigns in Lansing on Aug. 27, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

“And I know Matt and Kristina do, as well,” Hernandez added. “We are all united in this effort. This campaign can’t be an average campaign where we see Republicans a lot of times just being on the defensive. We’ve got to take this on the offensive this time.”

Dixon said when she chose Hernandez to join the ticket with her, she knew he was “the right guy.”

“I’m grateful that he agreed to join our ticket and I am so excited to fight every single day for you. I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful for today, and I’m thankful for every day we have until Election Day,” Dixon said during the rally. 

Dixon used a majority of her time on the stage Saturday evening to criticize Whitmer for COVID-19 lockdowns, even though state restrictions haven’t been in place for over a year. 

“We are going to keep the schools open. We’re going to keep the businesses open. We’re going to bring back this economy. We’re going to make it easier to do business. We’re going to make our cities safer and we’re going to make sure our students thrive,” Dixon said. 

A total of 2,751,201 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 37,909 people have died from the virus. The United States has had 93.6 million confirmed cases and 1,040,970 deaths.

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who won a blue state last year, headlined the rally Saturday. Prior to the rally, Youngkin and Dixon sat on chairs in front of the Capitol and chatted casually before cameras for what appeared to be footage for future campaign ads.

Progress Michigan, a liberal think tank, set up a projector across the street from the Capitol Saturday evening and streamed video from the Jan. 6 committee hearings earlier this year on the planning of the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s win over Trump. The group was heckled repeatedly by Republican protesters. 

“With the addition of Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo to the ticket, today’s convention confirmed that Republicans will be running on extreme election denialism, the total elimination of reproductive freedom, and a crusade to decimate public education as we know it for November,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said. “Michigan deserves better than candidates bought and paid for by special interests, pushing fringe policies that will harm working families.”

The convention was slowed down early on due to a battle over which slate of Macomb County delegates to consider — the ones with former county party Chair Mark Forton or with current Chair Eric Castiglia?

Forton was ousted from the position during a Macomb County convention in April. Castiglia was able to seize control of the party, arguing that Forton was creating divisions within the party by continuing to push election fraud conspiracies about the 2020 election. President Joe Biden defeated former President Trump by 154,000 votes in Michigan.

A Macomb County judge this month ruled that Forton was the rightful leader of the county party. On Saturday, the convention delegates voted to replace Castiglia’s delegates with Forton’s, overruling Weiser’s choice of Castigilia and his delegates. 

There also was a grassroots effort to force a paper ballot for lieutenant governor instead of doing a voice vote, which succeeded.

Rebandt continued to advocate for his LG candidacy throughout the convention, hoping to sway enough people from voting for Hernandez and getting himself on the ticket with Dixon. 

This didn’t work and ultimately Hernandez, who was endorsed by Trump days after Dixon announced him as her pick, walked away with 77% of the delegate vote. 

“Today’s nominating convention proves we have a strong, united Republican ticket,” said GOP Chair Ron Weiser. 

Republicans also nominated candidates for the State Board of Education and university governing bodies Saturday. 

Justice Brian Zahra and newcomer Paul Hudson were nominated for the Michigan Supreme Court. They face Justice Richard Bernstein and state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden (D-Southfield).

Lena Epstein secured the GOP nomination for University of Michigan Board of Regents after Bridge reported she was arrested last year for domestic violence. The other nominee is Sevag Vartanian. They are up against Democratic incumbents Kathy White and Mike Behm.

For the state Board of Education, Republicans chose Linda Lee Tarver and Tamara Carlone. They face Democrats Pamela Pugh, board vice president, and Mitchell Robinson. 

Republicans picked Travis Menge and Mike Balow for the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. They will square off with Democratic incumbent Renee Knake Jefferson and nominee Dennis Denno.

Craig Wilsher and Christa Murphy were nominated by the GOP for the Wayne State Board of Governors. They face Democratic former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly and Danielle Atkinson.

The Michigan Advance was one of the media outlets denied credentials from the Michigan Republican Party to attend the convention in person. The Michigan Republican Party also required reporters to be credentialed for the evening rally on the Capitol lawn, a public outdoor space funded by taxpayer dollars. After consulting with the Michigan Capitol Commission, the Michigan Press Association confirmed that the Michigan GOP lacked the power to restrict access. 

As the Advance is committed to reporting on the 2022 election for our readers and exercising our First Amendment rights, reporters did cover the rally on the Capitol lawn and were not turned away. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.