Takeaways From Three Interesting Races in the 2022 Michigan Primaries

Republican Candidate for Governor

Republican Candidates for Michigan Governor

Support for Dixon was split among the grassroots Republican activists of the state. Some see her as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) that will be beholden to her big-money backers making her likely to compromise on the most important conservative issues. Others see her as an opportunist that was largely absent from the long and difficult fight on the ground opposing Governor Whitmer’s COVID dictates. The two candidates that were front and center in that fight- Ryan Kelley & Garrett Soldano- split the vote of the “anti-mandate” crowd, together gaining approximately 33 percent. Upon listening to reactions from the grassroots, Dixon did win over some activists by appealing to their pragmatism, arguing she has less baggage than the other candidates, she says the right things, and her more moderate tone and positions will help win over independents in the general election.

Meanwhile, many grassroots activists have been vowing not to support Dixon upon her win, while others have already begun the calls for unity to defeat Whitmer in November. Whether Dixon can make moves to win the support of more grassroots activists remains to be seen, but in my view it is crucial. Dixon’s appeal is supposedly that she is more moderate, making her a better fit for a “purple” state like Michigan. But Whitmer tries to play the same game, so as the incumbent with even more cash, she has the clear advantage in that department. The force multiplier for the Republicans should have been a fired-up grassroots army of volunteers rallying around a goal of opposing Whitmer’s heavy-handed COVID response. That would have taken a candidate like Kelley or even Soldano, but now that seems unlikely to materialize. Dixon will have to rely on money and more traditional means, which, like candidate Bill Scheutte before her, she will give up the advantage to Whitmer. Can Republicans beat a relatively popular (somehow) incumbent like Whitmer in a low-key, standard point-by-point race without getting the electorate to remember the harm Whitmer caused? I am skeptical. While Whitmer can be tied to the dismal performance of Biden and her ideological comrades in Congress as the state of the country deteriorates under their leadership, she can also rally around the abortion issue to drive out Democrats to vote in the fall.

One thing Republicans do have going for them over 2018 is turnout. As of this writing, with only 77 percent of the voting complete, turnout has already surpassed the total for the 2018 primary. Note from the two breakdowns below the similarities in results regarding the ideological types of candidates. The establishment-backed candidates out-performed the more grassroots-style candidates in similar fashion.

2022 Republican Primary (77% Reporting)
2018 Republican Primary (final)

Congressional District 3 – Meijer vs. Gibbs

Peter Meijer and John Gibbs
New 3rd Congressional District – Source: Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

Congressional District 11 – Levin vs. Stevens

Haley Stevens and Andy Levin
Michigan’s new 11th Congressional District – Source: Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

Levin, who was backed by J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, is vocally critical of Israel and authored a “Two-State Solution Act” this session that would restrict how Israel could use US aid, has been in AIPAC’s crosshairs. AIPAC’s former director David Victor, a Detroit resident, called Levin “arguably the most corrosive member of Congress to the US-Israel relationship.” He also said in a letter to prospective donors in January that “less engaged Democratic colleagues may take [Levin] at his word” on Israel because of his Jewish credentials.

Money talks. If a Jewish member of Congress, that is part of a Jewish political dynasty, that is tailor-made for the district he is trying to represent, can be taken out over a difference of opinion on what is best for Israel via massive funding of his opposition, then the same can potentially happen to anyone else on any other issue- no matter how obscure.

Republican Candidate for Michigan’s 11th, Mark Ambrose

The 2022 General Election

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