Conservative commentator Tudor Dixon rode into the Republican gubernatorial nomination this week on the backs of the influential DeVos family in West Michigan and former President Donald Trump's late endorsement.
Had it not been for the DeVos' financial connections, Dixon wouldn't be where she is today.
She'd have never raised the $1.6 million she reported on July 26. She'd had never gotten the help of their SuperPAC Michigan Families United and its $2 million-plus in TV commercials they spent on her
Without this money, Dixon wouldn't have been up in the polls in the weeks leading up to the primary. If she weren't leading in the polls, it's unlikely Trump sticks out his neck to endorse her.
Trump is concerned about Trump. First and foremost. After some early endorsements that blew up in his face, he now backs people who are on the verge of winning. It makes him look like a kingmaker. If he was supporting a candidate based on who parrots his "America First" moniker the loudest, he would have backed Ryan Kelley.
Think this is exaggeration or hyperbole? Remember this:
— On Jan. 31, Dixon reported raising a grand total of $505,766, much of which she paid back to her fundraiser. She had $96,259 in the bank, less than some legislative candidates.
— In May, Dixon was doing so poorly in polls she didn't initially qualify to appear at the Detroit Regional Chamber debate during its conference on Mackinac Island. It was only after James Craig and Perry Johnson fell victim to the petition fraud that they were kicked off the ballot and Dixon was invited to the debate.
The 45-year-old mother of four and former steel industry executive is the Republican gubernatorial nominee in a year in which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s friend, President Joe Biden, is polling in the 30% range. Still, she starts the last 100 days until the General Election with some real problems.
For one, she doesn't have a broad network of support. Unlike Garrett Soldano or even Ryan Kelley, she doesn't have a political base that is willing to walk over hot coals for her.
Dixon isn't like Bill Schuette or Dick Posthumus, who have been in politics for so long they had allies they could turn to for support. She isn't like Dick DeVos or Rick Snyder in that she's not personally wealthy and can cut big checks.
Instead, she's a nominee who (behind the scenes) Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock didn't want to see win the primary.
The DeVos money helped set up her for the Trump endorsement, which was a winning formula for a Republican primary. The influence of both DeVos and Trump doesn't extend much with independents.
She'll need money to combat the Whitmer message and doesn't have much. Maybe a half million dollars. Whitmer has $14.7 million in bank and has already reserved airtime for the key months of September and October.
It certainly isn't over. Dixon is great in front of a microphone, a camera or any audience. She politically pliable. She told me last year she was against abortion 100%, no exceptions. She's now making an exception for the life of a mother.
She's not boxed into a completely unrealistic campaign gimmick like completely eliminating the state's income tax in two years. She's personable, sharp and is polling well with men.
Unfortunately for her, Whitmer's job approval numbers are back over 50%. The COVID lockdowns that cratered Whitmer's numbers have been long forgotten by the voting population. The overturning of Roe v Wade and the prospect of legalized abortion in Michigan has replaced Whitmer's restrictions as top-of-mind issues for many women and independent voters.
Gas is moving back down to $4 a gallon, which isn't great, but it's not $5 either. The worst of the inflation is hopefully behind us.
Without a strong message to independents as to why Whitmer needs to go and the money to get that message in front of voters, Dixon is sunk before she leaves the dock.
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