Trump-backed Tudor Dixon will take on Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan

Tudor Dixon won the GOP nomination for Michigan governor.  (Photo: Associated Press)

Tudor Dixon won the GOP nomination for Michigan governor. (Photo: Associated Press)

Tudor Dixon won the GOP nomination for Michigan governor. (Photo: Associated Press)

Tudor Dixon emerged as the winner on Tuesday in one of the messiest GOP primaries this election cycle, earning him the Republican nomination for governor in Michigan.

Dixon, a conservative commentator and business owner, will face Democrat Gretchen Whitmer this fall in one of the most competitive races for governor this year.

Neither Dixon, 45, nor her four GOP competitors have ever held legislative or statewide office, making the contest a toss-up to the very end. Donald Trump’s last-minute endorsement helped her cross the finish line.

“Michigan’s Republican ruling class has backed Tudor Dixon because they think it will hurt the Republican ticket the least in November,” GOP adviser Dennis Lennox told HuffPost. “I don’t think anyone thinks she can win — Michiganders haven’t turned down an incumbent governor since 1962 — but she’ll be running a disciplined campaign that will keep legislative candidates competitive under a brand new map after the reshuffle.”

Dixon campaigned as a culture fighter, promising to enact laws that would prevent what she thinks”indoctrinationin schools. After working for her family’s steel company, Dixon founded a subscription news service aimed at students with content promoting American exceptionalism.

She is also a hardline abortion opponent, support exceptions only for the life of the mother. Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, Whitmer has sought to block the Michigan abortion law that would ban the procedure altogether, making the governor’s role a pivotal figure in preserving abortion rights.

Michigan’s GOP primary was full of twists and turns.

Five candidates — including two early frontrunners — were disqualified from the ballot after the Michigan Bureau of Elections determined they didn’t have enough real signatures on their petitions. The situation arose from the fact that paid canvassers had submitted nearly 70,000 false signatures for a number of candidates.

Of the remaining candidates on the GOP ballot, real estate broker Ryan Kelley rose shortly after his FBI arrest for allegedly leading rioters to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Kelley said he did not enter the building himself, but played his connection to the riotsaying it boosted his brand awareness in the race.

Dixon appeared to soften her stance on Trump’s election ahead of primary day, dodging a ask on whether she believes the 2020 election was stolen in an interview with Fox News on Sunday. During a GOP debate in May, she erroneously said Trump won Michigan.

“We need to make sure our elections are secure and that what happened in 2020 doesn’t happen again,” she said on Sunday, criticizing Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

After weeks of dead heat, Dixon defeated Kelley, businessman Kevin Rinke and chiropractor Garrett Soldano thanks to Trump and support from Michigan’s deeply rooted and politically influential DeVos familyincluding former Michigan GOP chair Betsy DeVos, who served as Trump’s education secretary.

In a presidential swing state, Republicans may find an opening in November because of President Joe Biden’s sinking approval rating and concerns about rising inflation.

Whitmer’s profile rose during the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently as Michigan — where Democratic officials rule statewide alongside a GOP legislature — navigates the aftermath of Roe v. Wade. She ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for a second term.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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