A chaotic GOP primary could cost the party in battleground Michigan | #Education

In the spring, five candidates vying to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — one of the GOP’s top targets for defeat this year — were blocked from appearing on the primary ballot after failing to submit enough valid signatures. The highly unusual sequence of events left Republicans without two of their leading gubernatorial contenders, former Detroit police chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, roughly two months before the August 2 primary.
Not long after, one of the remaining GOP candidates on the ballot, real estate broker Ryan Kelley, was arrested by the FBI on misdemeanor charges related to the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol. Last month, Kelley pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying he was only engaged in “First Amendment activity” that day. Kelley has been a proponent of former President Donald Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims, claiming the 2020 election in Michigan was “fraudulent.”
Left without a clear front-runner for much of the race, Republicans have coalesced around conservative political commentator Tudor Dixon down the final stretch. Already backed by the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Dixon also won Trump’s endorsement on Friday.

During an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, Dixon said she was “concerned” about how the 2020 presidential election was administered in Michigan, though she would not answer directly if it was stolen, as Trump has claimed. Dixon also said she did not believe Trump bears responsibility for January 6.

Republicans are now in a much weaker position to oust Whitmer in a battleground state Joe Biden won by just three points in 2020 than anticipated at the outset of the cycle.
For instance, Dixon’s campaign has spent just $118,000 on ads so far, according to AdImpact data collected by CNN’s David Wright. A pro-Dixon outside group, Michigan Families United, has provided a boost with nearly $2.3 million worth of ads. But Whitmer, who has built up her campaign coffers while running unopposed in the Democratic primary, has already poured $2.8 million into ads as she looks ahead to the general election.
Despite the broader political environment favoring the GOP, the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter shifted its rating last week on the Michigan governor’s race from “toss-up” to “lean Democrat.” Other nonpartisan political handicappers have a similar read on the contest: Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales rates it “tilt Democratic” and the University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball lists it as “lean Democrat.”

Republicans, of course, will still have a full three months to right the ship after Tuesday’s primary. But if they aim to expand their advantage at the gubernatorial level this year, they can’t afford to lose many states like Michigan.

Nationwide, the GOP currently controls 28 governorships. Two of those, however, are in the deep blue states of Maryland and Massachusetts, and are widely expected to end up in the Democratic column after this fall. By comparison, Republicans don’t have any slam dunks on the 2022 map: the Cook Political Report rates the races in red-leaning Kansas and the swing states of Nevada and Wisconsin as the most vulnerable Democratic-held seats.
The Point: Even with national winds at their backs, Republicans can’t seem to stop tripping over themselves in key statewide battleground races.

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