Home Event Whitmer and Dixon go head to head in the first gubernatorial debate

Whitmer and Dixon go head to head in the first gubernatorial debate

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By Sophie Deiters

A gubernatorial debate took place this Thursday between Republican candidate Tudor Dixon and incumbent Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Gov. Whitmer has been in office since 2019, however that could change with the election coming up on Nov. 8. The debate touched on some of the most divisive political topics including abortion, gun control, and police funding. 

The first question from moderator, Rick Albin asked the candidates for their views on abortion. 

“When the supreme court overruled Roe v. Wade, it took away rights that we’ve had for 49 years,” Whitmer said. “Rights that I’ve had my whole life (have) now been ripped away from women and girls in this country. Michigan could revert to a 1931 law that makes (abortion) a felony, no exceptions for rape or incest, criminalizing doctors and nurses. The only reason that law is not into effect right now is because of my lawsuit stopping it.”

In response Dixon said, “The governor doesn’t have the choice to go around a judge or a constitutional amendment. She will lie to you tonight and tell you that the governor can do something about a constitutional amendment.” Whitmer fired back by saying, “A governor will absolutely impact these rights. In fact the only (reason) abortion is still accesable in Michigan is because of my lawsuit.” 

The next question was about school safety. 

“As a mom I am furious,” Whitmer said. “I’m angry that in this country and only in this country, the number one killer of children is gun violence. I support secure storage. I support background checks. I support red flag laws.” 

Dixon took a different stance saying, “She wants to make sure she takes away any protection you can have. She wouldn’t allow protection even inside of the school where we know that’s the best case scenario, if we have someone that can shoot down a shooter, shoot down a threat.” 

Dixon continued the debate on schooling by saying, “Right now in Michigan schools, as you’re seeing on the news, parents are really concerned about what their kids are being taught with this sex and gender theory and not to read, write and do math.” 

Whitmer claimed in response that Dixon does not intend to improve schools for most kids. 

“The person bankrolling Mrs.Dixon’s campaign is Betsy Devos. Why is that? Because they want to take half a billion dollars out of our public schools,” Whitmer said. “Betsy Devos’s voucher plan might help Betsy Devos and it might help Tudor Dixon, too, because her kids go to private schools. I don’t have a problem with kids going to private schools, that’s her choice. But the fact of the matter is that most kids don’t have those options. And that’s why we have to improve the education system across the state of Michigan, so every child has a great education.” 

When the topic of government spending came up, so did the topic of fixing the roads. Dixon claimed that Whitmer had failed to meet the promises that she made during her first campaign to fix the roads.

“You’ll notice that as soon as another election was coming up, she started to put people out on the roads,” Dixon said. “The governor didn’t fulfill her promise.” 

Whitmer responded to this by claiming that despite her efforts, the roads had accrued so much damage that it would take more time to fix them all. 

“There are orange cones and barrels all over the state because we are fixing the damn roads and moving dirt,” Whitmer said. “But you don’t overcome decades of disinvestment in four years. It is going to be an ongoing need.” 

The next topic covered was the controversial policing issue in Michigan. Dixon claimed that Whitmer had stood with the anti-policing movement and that under her governing, cops would feel supported. She said, “People have demonized our police officers and made this a career people don’t feel comfortable in anymore. In fact, our own governor (was) marching with the people who were out there saying the police are bad.” Dixon claimed that if elected, she plans to put $1 billion into policing. 

In response to Dixon’s claim that the governor was marching with the “anti-policing movement,” Whitmer said, “What Mrs.Dixon is referring to was a clergy-led moment of healing. We had police represented as well. It was an important community moment. What won’t heal the divide is someone who (rushes) to judgment like Mrs.Dixon did when the altercation and death of Patrick Lyoya happened here in Grand Rapids.”

Another question posed during the debate was how the candidates would deal with high inflation and gas prices. Dixon responded saying that Whitmer consistently vetoes legislation that could reduce the price of gas. She also claimed there was a more nefarious reason for high gas prices in Michigan. “Gretchen Whitmer wants you to pay more for gas to force you into electric vehicles,” she said.

Whitmer claimed that she could not remedy inflation because it is occurring globally. She said, “We know that inflation is hurting. Whether it’s the price of gas or it is the price of groceries. A governor cannot fix global inflation but what we can do is help keep more money in your pocket. I worked with the Republican legislature to make sure that we leveled the financial barrier to higher education and skills so that people can get into good paying jobs.”

As the debate wrapped up, both candidates were asked to give closing statements. In Whitmer’s closing she said, “I will always welcome honest dialogue. I think what you heard from my opponent was divisive rhetoric to pit us against each other for her own political gain.”

In her closing statement Dixon resorted to her previous unfounded rhetoric saying, “(Whitmer said) that she cares about women but she would gladly put little boys in your daughter’s locker room. She also said she cares about parents but she hasn’t stood for parents who have said ‘why do we have adults whispering sex and gender into the ears of our little kids.’”



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