Advance Notice: Briefs

GOP unity questioned as party heads into state nominating convention

By: - August 22, 2022 1:51 pm

Former Rep. Shane Hernandez (left) and GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon (right) | Dixon campaign video screenshot

Updated, 3:05 p.m., 8/22/22, with comments from James Craig

The weekend brought varying signs of unity within Republican ranks as the party heads into its convention in Lansing on Saturday.

Two days after teasing a possible outsider bid for lieutenant governor on Friday, Kalamazoo chiropractor Garrett Soldano signaled that he is actively campaigning to be GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon’s running mate when he posted a photo on Sunday of he and presumptive Republican attorney general nominee Matt DePerno having lunch, saying they discussed the importance of building a “stronger ticket” with “grassroots enthusiasm.” 

Soldano finished third in the Aug. 2 primary behind Dixon and businessman Kevin Rinke.

Garrett Soldano tweet with Matt DePerno, Aug. 21, 2022

In a text message exchange with Ryan Kelley, the fourth-place finisher in the GOP gubernatorial primary, the Advance asked whether Kelley would support Soldano if he seeks the LG nomination on Saturday.

“We will find out this week how things work out,” Kelley replied.

After the Aug. 2 primary, Soldano released a call-to-action Facebook video urging his supporters to chip in to help with Kelley’s legal fees for charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Over the weekend, Soldano and Kelley did another Facebook video together.

Dixon, who announced on Friday that she had selected former state Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) to be her running mate, sought to convey a unified ticket with a tweet just hours after Soldano’s post with pictures from the Woodward Dream Cruise in which she and Hernandez appeared with DePerno.

“A united ticket will defeat [Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer, [Attorney General] Dana Nessel, and [Secretary of State] Jocelyn Benson and we can begin to repair the damage they have done to our state,” Dixon said.

However, the Detroit News reports that DePerno made no mention of Hernandez while he was at the Dream Cruise.

“People across the state or country remember, they’re gonna look at Michigan and say that is a beacon of freedom,” DePerno told the paper. “We want to live in Michigan, make no mistake about it. So vote for DePerno, [likely Secretary of State nominee Kristina] Karamo and Dixon.”

Dixon’s selection of Hernandez as her running, while traditionally a foregone conclusion, is not guaranteed.

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. Party rules allow nominations to also be submitted from the floor of the convention if Dixon’s second nomination were to be rejected.

GOP gubernatorial candidate James Craig at Former President Donald Trump rally in Washington Twp. on April 2, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who was one of five GOP gubernatorial candidates booted from the ballot amid a signature fraud scandal, told Hour Detroit he will not be supporting Dixon.

“I didn’t think she was a good candidate then,” he sais, referring to when he competed against her this spring. “She’s got a couple of endorsements that gave her the lead, but if I had been able to stay in it, I would have been the nominee. … At this point, I’m not supporting Tudor Dixon and I’m not supporting Governor Whitmer.”

Craig also criticized Dixon on abortion.

“How can you say no exceptions, and this is ludicrous to me, when a doctor opines that if you give birth, you will die or the child?” he told Hour Detroit. “Who am I to usurp the opinion of a medical professional? Frankly, I’ve never been a doctor.”

Dixon’ support an abortion ban without an exception for rape and incest. In an interview with FOX-2 on Friday, Dixon reaffirmed that she does not believe abortion should be an option for a 14-year-old rape victim, saying they could find “healing through that baby.”

Republican delegates will gather Saturday in Lansing to formally confirm the party’s nominees for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, the State Board of Education and the governing boards for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

Advance reporter Laina G. Stebbins contributed to this story.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.

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