LANSING, Mich. – Republican governor Tudor Dixon declined to say during a national TV appearance on Sunday whether she believed the 2020 presidential election had been stolen.
It was a shift in the position she took during a candidate debate in May.
In what could be a sign of an early pivot in a general election campaign, Dixon, who appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” instead shifted the conversation to what she described as legitimate concerns about the way the election was conducted and her support for strict voters. ID requirements and other proposed changes to state electoral law.
The apparent pivot in Dixon’s position away from the “big lie” promoted by former President Donald Trump came less than 48 hours after Trump backed Dixon on Friday nightin Tuesday’s five-candidate GOP primary.
And it brought swift criticism from Republicans who competed with Dixon for the nomination.
During a debate in May, Dixon, along with most of the other Republican candidates on stage that night, raised her hand in the affirmative when a moderator asked her if Trump was the rightful winner in Michigan, which he roughly lost to President Joe Biden. 154,000 votes.
That in itself was a shift from the position Dixon, a businesswoman and former conservative TV commentator, had taken. earlier in the campaign when she had declined to answer the question directly.
On Sunday, under pressure from Fox News host Bret Baier, Dixon shifted back to that early campaign stance.
When asked if she believed the election had been stolen, Dixon said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in administering the Michigan election, “did things that were deemed illegal by a judge,” a clear reference to Benson’s instruction. to clerks that signatures on absent ballots must be given a presumption of validity.
“We need to make sure our elections are safe and that what happened in 2020 doesn’t happen again,” Dixon said. “Obviously it was a different election. There was COVID going on. There was an opportunity to make changes. This Secretary of State made those changes, sent absentee ballot requests to everyone in the state, brought in Zuckerbucks and reduced the signature We Call “There were certainly things about the 2020 election that worried us about the way it was being implemented.”
Baier then pressed Dixon, saying he had covered Florida’s 2000 recount, which took several hundred votes statewide, but Biden’s margin over Trump in Michigan was exponentially larger than that.
“I always focused on the concerns when I was there,” Dixon said, again refusing to say whether she thought the 2020 election was stolen. “I’ve always focused on the way the election was handled and how we’re supposed to make sure it’s safe going forward, and that we don’t have people looking back and saying we wonder what really happened.”
In March 2021, a Michigan Court of Claims judge ruled that Benson had erred in ordering clerks to assume signatures on absentee ballots were valid and said Benson should have followed the Administrative Procedures Act to properly promulgate a vote. such election rule.
Dixon’s reference to “Zuckerbucks” relates to grants for COVID-19 response that jurisdictions across the country, including Michigan, have received from the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life, which received a $400 million grant. from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The money was spent on, among other things, protective clothing for election officials and ballot boxes for absences.
During the May debate, only three Republican candidates would not say the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. One was Kevin Rinke, an Oakland County businessman who spent nearly $10 million of his own money on the Republican nomination. The other two were candidates Mike Brown of Stevensville and Michael Markey of Grand Haven, who were among the five candidates disqualified from the race for submitting too many false signatures to their nomination requests.
Rinke called Dixon’s latest comments a betrayal of Trump.
“That’s a land speed record for betraying President Trump, even by the standards of established politicians,” Rinke said in a press release.
“If Tudor Dixon turns his back on President Trump so quickly, just imagine what she will do to Republicans in Michigan.”
Kalamazoo chiropractor Garrett Soldano, another Republican candidate for governor, also criticized Dixon.
“Clearly Tudor Dixon puts the interests of those who fund her campaign ahead of issues of concern to conservatives across Michigan,” Soldano said. “Like the DeVos family, Tudor turns her back on those who fought for President Trump.”
Dixon campaign chief strategist James Blair dismissed the criticism as “sour grapes” and said it “wouldn’t change her commitment to election integrity or the support she deserved from President Trump.”
Soldano and other candidates have criticized Dixon as being too close to the establishment for her endorsement by Michigan’s powerful and wealthy DeVos family. Betsy DeVos served as Secretary of Education in Trump’s cabinet, but resigned the day after the January 6, 2021 riots at the United States Capitol. She later confirmed that she had discussed with other cabinet members invoking the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution to remove Trump from office.
The other candidates on the ballot are Ottawa County real estate broker Ryan Kelley and retired Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig continues to campaign as a candidate.
Dixon’s campaign announced Sunday, after her TV appearance, that Trump would appear with her on a Monday night telecommunication rally to boost supporters ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Trump will join the conversation with Dixon but will not travel to Michigan, a campaign spokesman said.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan Republican Tudor Dixon shifts stance on ‘stolen election’