MICHIGAN
     Nov. 8, 2022 Governor                                      

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+Gretchen Whitmer/Garlin Gilchrist (D) i
2,430,505
54.47%
Tudor Dixon/Shane Hernandez (R)
1,960,635
43.94%
Mary Buzuma/Brian Ellison (L)
38,800
0.87%
Donna Brandenburg/Mellissa Carone (UST)
16,246
0.36%
Kevin Hogan/Destiny Clayton (G)
10,766
0.24%
Daryl Simpson/Doug Dern (NL)
4,973
0.11%
write-ins
47
 

4,461,972

Active Registered Voters: ???.  Total Voters: 4,500,400.
Plurality: 469,870 votes (10.53 percentage points)

 MI Secretary of State




Notes:  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) won a second term (1, 2), defeating conservative media activist Tudor Dixon (R) and four third party candidates:
Mary Buzuma (L), Donna Brandenburg (UST), Kevin Hogan (G) and Daryl Simpson (NL).  In addition to Whitmer's win, Michigan Democrats achieved another surprising victory, flipping both the state House and state Senate, and achieving the trifecta for the first time in 38 years.

Primaries were held on Aug. 2.  Whitmer was unopposed for the Democratic nomination; her running mate remained Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.  The Republican primary was closely fought and marked by the disqualification of several of the leading candidates.  Whitmer's handling of the pandemic was a top issue in the GOP campaign.  After the messy primary, Dixon emerged as the clear winner (>).  On Aug. 19 she announced former state Rep. Shane Hernandez of Port Huron as her running mate; the MIGOP state nominating convention, meeting in Lansing on Aug. 27, confirmed the ticket.

The Whitmer campaign entered the general election with a huge financial advantage; its post-primary reports showed it had $14.0 million in cash on hand compared to $523,930 for the Dixon campaign.  The result was a period of limited activity for the Dixon campaign.  On Sept. 7, Michigan Democrats issued a release headlined, "Disappearing Dixon: Has Anyone Seen Tudor Dixon or Her Campaign."  The Dixon campaign was off the airwaves for a couple of months.

Pre-general reports (through Oct. 23) showed the Whitmer campaign had $36.4 million in contributions, $30.5 million in expenditures and cash on hand of $4.0 million compared to $6.8 million in contributions, $3.8 million in expenditures and and $3.0 million in cash on hand for the Dixon campaign.  Outside groups also weighed in.


Former President Donald Trump rallied with "the entire Michigan Trump Ticket including endorsed candidates and special guests" at the Macomb County Community College Sports & Expo Center in Warren on Oct. 1 (>).  President Joe Biden appeared with Whitmer at the Detroit Auto Show and spoke at a Michigan Democratic Party fundraiser on Sept. 14; Vice President Kamala Harris did events including a MPD fundraiser in Detroit on Oct. 15; and former President Barack Obama rallied with Whitmer and other Democrats at Renaissance High School in Detroit on Oct. 29 (+).

Whitmer and Dixon participated in two debates: the first hosted by WOOD TV8 at their studios in Grand Rapids on Oct. 13 (>), and
the second hosted by Oakland University's Center for Civic Engagement and WXYZ, WXMI and WSYM at Oakland University in Rochester on Oct. 25 (>).  In addition the Whitmer and Dixon separately answered the same eight questions at a meeting of the Detroit Economic Club on Oct. 21 (>).

The Dixon campaign did seem to pick up some momentum in the closing weeks of the campaign.  In addition to the visibility afforded by the debates, Dixon garnered endorsements from the Detroit News (Oct. 20) and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce (Nov. 1).

Abortion rights were a key issue in the race.  By a 57% to 43% margin, Michigan voters approved the Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative, Proposal 3, which amends the state constitution to, depending on who is talking, guarantee the right to reproductive freedom (Yes) or create an unlimited right to abortion (No). 

Third party candidates had a difficult time getting attention.  Libertarian nominee Mary Buzuma, who was also the party's nominee in 2014, said the race had a very different dynamic than when she ran eight years ago.  Green Party nominee Kevin Hogan said, "Broadcast media refused to report on my candidacy...we do not have a democracy."

Background
In 2018 Whitmer won by a comfortable 9.56 percentage point margin, but a lot has happened since then. 
For four or five months in 2020 Whitmer was vetted to be Joe Biden's running mate, making the short list.  However, Whitmer came under strong criticism from conservatives for the executive orders she issued in the face of the pandemic.  In Apr. 2020 there were significant protests over COVID restrictions, and according to Ballotpedia (>) in 2020-21 over 30 recall petitions against were started against Whitmer, although none came close to meeting the requirement of more than one million signatures.  On Oct, 8, 2020 the FBI announced arrests in a plot to kidnap Whitmer (>).  In November 2020, Biden-Harris carried Michigan by 154,188 votes (2.78 percentage points) (+), but in the post-election period then-President Trump made the state an epicenter of his stolen election claims (+).

August 2 Primaries

Whitmer officially announced her re-election bid in a Feb. 28, 2022 tweet: "I'm Gretchen Whitmer — a proud mom, lifelong Michigander, and hardworking governor. I'm running for re-election in a swing state where special interests are pouring millions to unseat me... There's so much at stake in this race, but I'm ready to fight back." 

 
More than a dozen candidates entered the Republican primary race, led by former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and "quality guru" Perry Johnson.  Craig formally announced on Sept. 14, 2021 (1,2).  Johnson launched his campaign in Feb. 2022 (1,2).  Ten candidates filed by the April 19 deadline. 

However, the GOP field was thrown into disarray on May 26, 2022 when the Michigan Board of State Canvassers disqualified five candidates—Craig, Johnson, Donna Brandenburg, owner of several businesses, Michael Brown, a Michigan State Police captain, and businessman/financial planner Michael Markey—from the Aug. 2 primary ballot after their nominating petitions were found to include "fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures" and as a result had insufficient valid signatures (+).  Court challenges failed to reverse the decision. 

Five Republicans made the ballot: Tudor Dixon, who worked in the steel industry then shifted to conservative media activism, real estate broker Ryan Kelley, pastor Ralph Rebandt, businessman Kevin Rinke, and chiropractor Garrett Soldano. 


Dixon, from Muskegon County, announced her candidacy on May 20, 2021 (>).  She stood out as the only woman in the field and earned a number of key endorsements including the DeVos family (May 23), the Michigan Chamber (June 16), and the Police Officers Association of Michigan (June 24).  Dixon appeared to have risen to the top of the field, and on July 29 former President Trump weighed in with a late endorsement (+).

Kelley, from Allendale, announced his candidacy on Feb. 1, 2021.  On Dec. 15 he released a "First 100 Days Plan."  Kelley received national media attention on June 9, 2022 when the FBI arrested him on four misdemeanor charges for his participation in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.  On July 14 a lawsuit backed by Progress Michigan was filed seeking to disqualify Kelley as a candidate on the grounds that he had violated the Insurrection Clause; the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the case (1,2).


Soldano, from Kalamazoo, formed a Facebook group "Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine" in April 2020; more than 380,000 people joined the group before Facebook removed it in May.  He co-founded Stand Up Michigan and was a citizen co-chair of the Unlock Michigan campaign.  He is also author of "God’s True Law, a parent’s guide to raising successful children."

Rebandt, from Farmington Hills, branded his platform as the "lighthouse initiative" and advocated a roundtable strategy to "bring all segments of society together to solve Michigan's toughest issues." 

Rinke, from Bloomfield Township, announced an exploratory committee in Sept. 2021 and formally launched on Nov. 22; he said he would put $10 million of his own money into his campaign.  Rinke emphasized his business experience; he formerly headed an auto dealership group, and more recently
a company rehabilitating survivors of traumatic brain injury.

Candidates engaged in multiple debates:

- May 12: Eight of the ten candidates participated in the first candidate debate (>). 


- May 28: After the field was reduced, six candidates—Dixon, Kelley, Markey, Rebandt, Rinke and
Soldano—debated in Traverse City (>). 

- June 2: Dixon, Soldano, Rebandt and Rinke at the Mackinac Policy Conference (1,2). 

-
June 30: Dixon, Kelley, Rebandt, Rinke and Soldano hosted by Brighter Michigan PAC in Warren on June 30 (1,2). 

- July 6:
Dixon, Kelley, Rinke and Soldano (Rebandt did not meet the polling threshhold) in Grand Rapids hosted by WOOD TV8 (Nexstar Media) (>). 

- July 20:
Dixon, Kelley, Rebandt, Rinke and Soldano in Rochester hosted by Scripps stations and the Michigan GOP (>).

- July 28: Dixon, Kelley, Rebandt, Rinke and Soldano, hosted by the Oakland County Republican Party in Pontiac and broadcast on FOX2 (>).

1,099,273 votes were tallied in the Aug. 2 Republican primary.  Dixon won with a solid 39.69% of the vote, followed by Rinke (21.50%), Soldano (17.51%), Kelley (15.06%) and Rebandt (4.10%).


Campaign Managers:
Gretchen Whitmer: 
Preston Elliott
(reported June 23, 2021)  Campaign manager on M.J. Hegar's 2020 campaign for U.S. Senate in Texas.  Campaign manager on California state Treasurer John Chiang's 2018 Democratic primary campaign for governor.  Deputy executive director at the DSCC in the 2016 cycle.  Campaign manager on Sen. Kay Hagan's 2013-14 re-election campaign.  Campaign manager on Sen. Jon Tester's 2012 re-election campaign.  Nevada Coordinated Campaign director in 2010, helping to re-elect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Deputy political director at the DSCC in 2008.  Worked as a field director on Montana Democrats' Coordinated Campaign in 2006; former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles' 2004 U.S. Senate race; Rep. Dick Gephardt's Iowa caucus campaign; Sen. Tim Johnson (SD)'s 2002 re-election campaign; and an Illinois legislative race in 2000.  Graduate of Lake Forest College.  Grew up in Billings, Montana. 

Tudor Dixon: ?



See also:
Matt Grossman.  "National Context & 2022 Michigan Elections."  Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, Nov. 2022.

Tom Perkins.  "How Michigan Democrats took control for the first time in decades."  The Guardian, Nov. 17, 2022.

Paul Egan.  "Michigan GOP memo delivers scathing election post-mortem on Trump-backed candidates."  Detroit Free Press, Nov. 10, 2022.

Mike Wilkinson.  "Gretchen Whitmer's path to victory: Expanding support in Michigan suburbs."  Bridge Michigan, Nov. 9, 2022.

Joey Cappelletti.  "Late push by Dixon helps tighten Michigan governor's race."  AP, Oct. 31, 2022.

Lee DeVito.  "Third party candidates vie to be Michigan governor with long-shot campaigns."  Detroit Metro Times, Oct. 27, 2022.
 
Simon Schuster.  "Republicans still waiting on advertising cavalry for Tudor Dixon."  mlive, Oct. 19, 2022.

Eric Bradner and Donald Judd.  "Tudor Dixon seeks a culture war in campaign against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer."  CNN, Oct. 1, 2022.

Simon Schuster.  "Campaign finance filings show Tudor Dixon's campaign at 'critical juncture.'"  mlive.com, Sept. 2, 2022.


Allan Smith and Henry J. Gomez.  "Behind Tudor Dixon's rise in the messy GOP primary for governor in Michigan."  NBC News, July 30, 2022.

Yue Stella Yu.  "Gov. Whitmer leads fundraising as Trump endorsed GOP candidates struggle."  Bridge Michigan, July 22, 2022

Heidi Przybyla.  "'It's going to be an army': Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections."  Politico, June 1, 2022.

Paul Egan.  "Report links fraudulent Michigan election petition signatures to 36 circulators, 1 company."  Detroit Free Press, May 24, 2022.

Simon D. Schuster.  "
How Whitmer's Fundraising Blew Past Contribution Limits."  Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Aug. 2, 2021.

Story Hinckley.  "How Michigan became ground zero for COVID-19 debate."  Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 4, 2021.


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