Republican Candidates for Michigan Governor Debate – July 6, 2022 – Summary of Responses to Each Question Asked

Republican Candidates took the stage for a gubernatorial debate on July 6, 2022 (from left to right) Ryan D. Kelley, Garrett Soldano, Tudor Dixon, and Kevin Rinke

This debate was conducted by Woodtv8 and broadcast across Michigan. You can watch the whole debate here. Below is a summary of the questions and answers from each candidate with approximate times for easy navigation should you wish to listen to any given answer in its entirety.

Note: Ralph Rebandt, an additional candidate that will be on the primary ballot, was not invited to the debate.

Debate Summary

Question 1 (Approx. 03:00 minute mark)
Why are you running, what issue motivated you most?

Kelley – Running for future of my family and yours, made the decision around December 2020, because of improper government COVID response

Soldano- April 2020, created facebook group to oppose quarantines that gained support, helped organize successful Unlock Michigan petition, thrust into leadership role, made decision to run after the second lockdown when Whitmer doubled-down on her policies

Dixon- Decided to run during the school lockdowns, had negative impact on her children, recognized Administration not promoting prosperous policy

Rinke – Stayed his family was talking about possibly leaving Michigan because of the COVID response, son recognized he was fired up about the issue, suggested he ought to try to fix it because he had the experience, good people must act to confront wrongs

Question #2 (Approx. 07:45)
Inflation problem, what, if anything, will you do as Governor to address it

Soldano- Attract more businesses and people to bring in tax revenue, take power to lockdown away from government, cut regulations and taxes to compete with other States

Dixon- Opposed Whitmer’s veto of tax relief, wants to reduce income tax, attract companies to State, initiate gas tax holiday, says inflation is connected to energy costs and availability of supply lines, criticizes Whitmer for not going after Biden’s bad policies that lead to inflation, calls Whitmer a radical Governor

Rinke – Eliminate personal income tax by January 2024, indicates other states have done it and grew their economies and populations as a result, create an environment for success

Kelley- Lower gas prices by drilling more Michigan-based oil, indicates energy policy impacts other prices for goods and services in the market, continue to oppose Green New Deal policies

*Dixon rebuttal at 12:45 -points out problem of property taxes increases, warns Whitmer will shut down line 5 if reelected

Question #3 (Approx. 13:15)
If taxes are to be cut, what, if any spending ought to be cut?

Dixon- Reduce income tax, do it responsiblity over time, possibly eliminate it, Whitmer wants one-time checks

Rinke – Slow change not ideal, need to give money back to people now, create environment to attract businesses and people, indicates his policies will immediately attract

Kelley – Indicates in plan for his first 100 days in office he calls for a “zero basis budget” and budget audit to reduce wasteful spending, wants to revisit and lower property taxes rates because they are not tied to prosperity and can hurt people, especially the elderly, wants fo cap and reduce them

Soldano- Denounces lip-service on reducing spending and COVID response, wants forensic accounting on budget, wants to eliminate state income tax

*Dixon rebuttal – Says Rinke has no plan to eliminate income tax in one year and he can’t accomplish it

*Rinke rebuttal – Plan speaks for itself and that the income tax would be eliminated. Wants to work with legislature, budget has grown 30% in just over 3 years

Question #4 (Approx. 19:20)
Roe v. Wade overturned, Michigan reverts to 1931 law, should all forms of abortion be outlawed, what would you do regarding abortion policy in Michigan?

Rinke- Not Governor’s job to set policy, Whitmer abusing power to promote personal opinion, it is a legislative issue that the people must decide, SCOTUS recognized Roe v. Wade was improperly decided, will support legislature in their action

Kelley – Supports the overturning of Roe, indicates it is a 10th Amendment States rights issue, comments on the hypocrisy of those that want to allow abortion on privacy and bodily integrity grounds when they supported things like vaccine mandates

Soldano – States he is 100% pro-life, agrees with the 1931 Michigan abortion ban law, indicates life begins at conception, supports an exception to protect the life of the mother, says Whitmer is bypassing the legislature again like with COVID response, contradicting checks and balances

Dixon – Touts Michigan Right to Life endorsement, says the radical Attorney General indicating she won’t enforce existing 1931 Michigan law is appalling, contradicts Rule of Law, wants to make Michigan a family-friendly State

*Soldano rebuttal – Indicates Michigan Right to Life didn’t endorse him but he was long acting to oppose abortion

Question #5 (Approx. 25:00)
Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen?

Kelley – Yes, evidence of fraud in michgian, believed it in November 2020, took action, helped get the people’s voices heard, wants free and fair elections, indicates support for the premise of the movie “2000 Mules,” mentions suspicious activity at the TCF Center in Detroit, indicates Secretary of State Benson violated election law, created invalid election, we need accountability

Soldano- Yes, says the election turned overnight, new evidence has come out since and we need to investigate properly, mentions “2000 Mules” movie, suspicious ballot drops, implores people to vote because every vote must count

Dixon – Says Benson changed rules for signature match and need for voter identification, calls Benson’s actions a nefarious plan, criticizes absentee ballot applications being sent to everyone, indicates it was deemed unlawful, points out that Zuckerberg money went to nonprofits to influence the election with no oversight, need to investigate

Rinke- Says there is no question there was fraud, cites vote irregularities, “2000 Mules” movie, says the election violated laws, wants bill to make casting more than one vote a felony, wants to clean up voter rolls, initiate mandatory voter ID, says Benson allowed ballots to be destroyed which makes it difficult to investigate properly now

*Kelley pushes for Dixon and Rinke to answer question “yes” or “no” more directly, moderator does not allow

Question #6 (Approx. 31:00)
Do you support President Trump? What is your take on the January 6th event?

Soldano – Trump is my president, has done great job despite attacks, says he is all about supporting people’s right to peacefully protest

Dixon- Followed Trump from beginning, says he deserves more attention for the good things he has done

Rinke- Says he supported January 6th protesters, says I’ll take mean tweets in exchange for a better America than what we have now

Kelley- Indicates he supports Trump, says Trump inspired people by representing with what Republic stands for and that he opposed people that have bad plans for America, indicates he was in Washington DC at the Capitol, was arrested as part of a witch hunt, says he and others were engaged in First Amendment activity, were protesting government, 99% of the people there were there for that reason

Question #7 (Approx. 36:30)
What would you have done if you were Governor during the breakout of COVID?

Dixon – Support and trust people, listen to experts, says Whitmer did a lot of things against the advice of experts, especially regarding the elderly and policy that impacted unemployment rates, says Governors of States that followed the advice of these experts are thriving while Michigan is slow to recover

Rinke – From the start, protect most susceptible people like the seniors, says it was known early that the kids were relatively safe, says the Governor practiced political science, points of the hush money paid to Robert Gordon when he left office over supposed disagreement with policy direction, Whitner chose winners and losers with policy

Kelley- Conduct individual risk assessments, uphold the rights of the people, abide by the proper role of government, empower individuals, do not rule over people with tyranny, never take away righ to conduct business, indicates he thinks Rinke and Dixon didn’t really answer the question

Soldano- indicates others stayed silent during the COVID era, says he would never take away Constitutional freedoms, brought up how the videos out of China were pushed to scare people, says we should give people the truth, promote therapeutics, support the immune systm, act with common sense

*Dixon rebuttal – Says we must work with legislature, promotes Parents Rights Act, example of not being able to say goodbye to dying family members and calls the idea governemnt can intervene in that is outrageous

*Soldano rebuttal-
Says he’s glad Dixon finally trying to work with legislature, says he’s been doing it for a long time and trying to hold them accoutable – Dixon intervenes and says she thought Soldano considered them RINOs, Soldano questions, RINOs? Accuses Dixon of being backed by establishment RINOs and the DeVos empire, says people are tired of bought and paid for politicians

Question #8 (Approx. 42:30)
Opinion on gun control, red flag laws, military weapons, gun violence

Rinke- Labels himself a Constitutionalist, says he supports carry of weapons, says red flag laws were in place in Illinois and were ignored during the recent shooting, must fix people, we dont sell military weapons, says it is a complex issue, he won’t ignore Constitution, says it is not normal people committing the crimes, says the perpetrators are sick people, we need to address them

Kelley- says his 100 day plan will bring Constitutional carry to Michigan, points out that gun violence will not be reduced by more laws because criminals don’t follow laws, says Democrats are soft on crime and accountability, wants to be tougher on criminals, says guns are not the problem, the problem is with people

Soldano- It is our right to bear arms, mass shootings exploited by the progressive left everytime there is a mass shooting, says gun control not the solution, calls Chicago “shot-cago,” says mental health problem, supports Constitutional Carry

Dixon- pivots back to the accusation she is bought by the DeVos family, says after she met with them she walked out and Soldano was ready to walk in next, on Red flag laws, says they won’t solve the problem, uses Chicago as an example, says gun violence is a mental health issue

*Soldano rebuttal- says
Dixon lying, everyone in the stage was at that business association meeting at a banquet that she is referring to, says he didn’t meet behind closed doors with DeVos

*Kelley rebuttal – Jokes, why do I get left out of the meetings? I get silenced by everyone I guess. To Dixon, says he is surprised at the last debate she didn’t understand siscussion on Executive Directives and Executive Orders, says Dixon has establishment behind her, all the same people that got behind Tom Leonard and he lost big time in his primary with Deperno, says that is what is going to happen again in this primary

Question #9 (Approx. 48:40)
Mental health role in mass shootings, what to do about mental health system in Michigan

Kelley- In most instances government not solution but problem, shootings sometimes have early warnings, bolster faith community, do not push medication, empower community to help and prevent

Soldano- Mental health very important, government response to COVID was detrimental to the mental health of kids, flawed CRT Marxism ideas do not help, emphasize family, God, parents involved in schools, social media accountability, call authorities if earning signs present

Dixon- We need to ensure beds are available for mental health referrals, beds often not currently available, sometimes must keep people in jail for months, some people commit crimes because they need help they cannot get

Rinke- 40% and above illiteracy, can’t properly diagnose, violence a byproduct of ignoring people, attacking families must stop, social media misses warning signs

Closing Statements for Television Viewers (Approx 53:00)

Kelley – Pivitol moment, Whitmer uses lies and manipulation, turned Michigan into a dictatorship, we are ready for new direction, public education missteps threaten kids, economy in shambles, says he is in the fight for the future of all people and for freedom

Soldano- Says inaction is as bad as bad action, bad candidates did nothing as Whitmer diminished our experiences, time for someone to stand up for those that can’t stand for themselves, must not happen again, need unity with different backgrounds

Dixon- Bring back good education- parents are engaged, money to follow kids, promote skilled trades, be friendly to business, bring people together, reminds people we are a “purple” State

Rinke- Job is for chief executive, says he has 30 years such experience in business, ran two public companies, on health care industry boards, supported employees, served people, has proven results

Overtime Question #1 (Approx. 59:40)

How should Michigan pay for infrastructure and roads?

Soldano- Emphasis on long term solutions, natural gas, need to put money into infrastructure, registration fees for electric vehicles, stop mass exodus of Michigan

Dixon- Unique changes need for road funding formula, electric vehicles private/public partnership, need million more people in State, make Michigan a friendly state for taxes, Michgian is currently a top ten State for taxes on the middle class

Rinke- Create environment to be successful, Feds should just give money to States per electric vehicle instead of current allocation scheme, MI needs to build better roads by choice, we allow too heavy of vehicles for the prices charged, need appropriate tariffs for Canadian trucks

Kelley- Says he is skeptical of the trend towards electric vehicles, brings up how Elon Musk was asked to shut off electric vehicles abroad, warns of possible social credit type citizen scores being used to shut off vehicles, says if we do transition to more electric vehicles, we must charge a fee at charging stations to compensate for gas tax shortcomings

Overtime Question #2 (Approx. 1:04:00)
State budget size, if tax cuts are made, what if any, cuts to spending must be made?

Dixon- COVID dollars should be spent on schools to take care of students hurt by Whitmer’s actions, current budget inflated because of federal government money, need tutoring hours for students, bolster school safety

Rinke- Says government should stop studying things, provides example of a government-funded study that the government then ignored anyway, promote education, says it will take a businessman to cut expenditures properly

Kelley- Refers to his 100 day plan and zero basis budget, highlights example of the Department of Health and Human Services spending money on COVID vaccine billboards as a waste of money, say Dixon has DEI information in her plan, says we should just stop the woke nonsense

Soldano- Need to undue what has happened to our State, says it is frustrating for people, says Whitmer is trying to buy back support of the people she hurt with the budget funding, says we need to stop studies by government on needless things, go through budget with forensic accounting, get right people in the positions to do so

*Rinke rebuttal – Says people need to know Whitmer got $76 billion, two years ago we spent $90 billion with non-recurring funds.

Overtime Question #3 (Approx. 1:10:30)
What would you do to diversify Michigan’s economy while also protecting traditional bases?

Rinke- Says it is a shame Michigan only has two electric vehicle sites today, may lose out if we don’t act, must identify other opportunities such as cyber security, artificial intlligence, aerospace, agriculture base, overregulation is a problem

Kelley- We must provide energy to attract business, supports nuclear energy, corporate income taxes need to be lower, supports cutting them in half or eliminating them

Soldano- States that are taking our jobs like Tennessee are business friendly, texas has oil, Florida has tourism, says Michigan has all three, need to promote that and put in infrastructure, supports nuclear energy

Dixon- Need to protect legacy industry, make Michigan more business friendly and that will also attract new business

Overtime Question #4 (Approx. 1:15:00)
How can we meet increased demand for energy?

Kelley- States again he support nuclear energy and thinks a robust nuclear energy plan is the best path forward for Michigan, pivots to address past Dixon criticism of his position on opposing vaccine mandates for Michigan citizens, says we must attract people and business and by ensuring there will not be vaccine mandates, we can do that

Soldano- Says he has stood up for vaccine waivers and would promote the addition of a philosophical waiver, says clean energy and costs are an issue, refers to China and India burning more coal, says solar and wind poser have not been profitable without government support, wants to bring DTE and Consumers to the table

Dixon – Clarification on her parent’s rights plan, says DEI is mentioned only for parents to know, wants to remove DEI, supports nuclear energy

Rinke- Says his group is working on modular nuclear reactors, want to open line 5, says it saves Northern Michigan money, creates 33,000 jobs

*Kelley rebuttal- Addressing Dixon, say he read her proposed Act, says it is important to eliminate DEI from the Governor’s desk, not interested in only making parents aware

Overtime Question #5 (last question)

There is no guarantee on the legislative makeup after the election, how will you work with Democrats if they are in the majority or in the minority?

Soldano- We are not only divided in Michigan but also as a nation, the primary role of Governor is to restore faith in government with truth amd transparency, references his Sunshine Plan, wants to have conversations with others that do not agree, references a talk he had with a pro-choice Democrat that indicated will support him even though they disagree on the topic

Dixon- Says she has reached out to others, talked to legislators already, always is open and listening, has never went after competitors, likes to work across aisle, touts endorsements from diverse groups

Rinke- Strong leadership provides a vision and represents what everyone wants, says most agree on 90% of things, need to learn how to address these needs

Kelley- Whitmer touts bipartisanship when it suits her, it is not always a real solution, first and foremost we must uphold rights and the Constitution, will not compromise on conservative values, will listen but compromising to the benefit of some at the expense of the rights of others is not appropriate

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