Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Tudor Dixon (R) face off in first of two gubernatorial debates

Each candidate was asked 12 questions, covering abortion rights, education, gun violence, inflation and more.
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 12:30 AM EDT
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WLUC) - The general election in Michigan is less than one month away.

On this year’s ticket, the gubernatorial seat is up for grabs. To voice their ideas and gather support, Democratic Incumbent Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Challenger Tudor Dixon participated in a debate Thursday night.

It was the first of two debates this election season. After giving their 90-second opening statements, each candidate answered 12 questions on key issues before making closing statements.

Gov. Whitmer and Dixon began by answering two abortion questions. The first concerned whether or not they support abortion, while the second asked for their stance on Proposition 3. If passed, this ballot measure would amend the state constitution to legalize abortion. Gov. Whitmer voiced her support for the ballot measure, criticizing Dixon’s stance.

“When Roe fell, Mrs. Dixon celebrated,” Whitmer said.

She continued, “[Dixon] said she wanted to make abortion a felony, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the woman and throw doctors and nurses in jail. That is too extreme and way too dangerous,” Gov. Whitmer concluded.

While Gov. Whitmer said she supports abortion, Dixon explained that she does not.

Dixon referred to herself as, “pro-life, with exceptions for life of the mother.”

“My position on abortion is clear,” Dixon continued.

Dixon also noted that regardless of her belief, the decision on abortion is ultimately up to the voters. Dixon claimed that she would support their decision on Proposition 3 if she were elected governor.

“I understand that this is going to be decided by the people of the State of Michigan or by a judge,” Dixon explained.

Next on the question list were two about education. The first inquired into the candidates’ stances on student safety and mental health.

Gov. Whitmer answered first. She said that after last year’s shooting at Oxford High School, something needs to be done about protecting students in the classroom.

“As a mom, I am furious that in this country, and only in this country, the number one killer of children is gun violence,” Whitmer said.

She went on,” As governor, we need to act. I support secure storage, I support background checks, I support red flag laws.”

Dixon followed up, where she claimed the State Department of Education has set a dangerous precedent by recommending that schools not inform parents of a student who could be a cause for concern.

“The Michigan Department of Education has now come out and said that there are times when we can hide a dangerous situation from parents,” Dixon started. “If a student wants to harm themselves or someone else, they say we should hide it from the parents.”

Dixon went further, explaining that Gov. Whitmer has not followed the 2018 Safe Schools Report from the Michigan State Police. Dixon said this report outlined ways to make schools safer.

“[The report] covered everything from hardening our schools to making sure that the mental health of our students was taken care of,” Dixon explained.

She continued, “When our state police come out with a report like that, we need to take it very seriously.”

Each candidate went on to give their opinion on many other questions. These included each candidate’s opinion on the biggest issue in Michigan schools, which Tudor Dixon claimed to be low reading scores. Something Dixon said has been emphasized ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michigan is one of the only states where the governor did not issue a tutoring plan for our students,” Dixon said of Gov. Whitmer. “We have talked about 25 hours for every child to make sure they get back on track.”

Dixon went on, “We need to get our kids back to reading and back to the basics.”

Dixon added that she questions what she calls “sex and gender theory” being taught to Michigan students. Dixon claimed that this could be the cause of low reading scores across the state.

“Right now in Michigan schools, as you are seeing on the news, parents are really concerned about what their kids are being taught with this sex and gender theory instead of teaching them to read and write,” Dixon said.

Gov. Whitmer, meanwhile, said July’s education budget allows Michigan schools to invest in their students and staff.

Gov. Whitmer called it, “the biggest investment in public education in state history.”

“We closed the gap between districts, we ensured that we have got wraparound supports, whether it be mental health support or tripling the number of literacy coaches,” Gov. Whitmer said. “We are dropping class size and luring great people to go into teaching. That is how we ensure that all kids have a great education.”

Other questions asked included the effectiveness of Michigan’s COVID-19 response, how to best spend the state’s surplus budget dollars, how to manage the road budget, how to deal with crime, what to do about racial bias in law enforcement, how to handle gun violence and how to manage Michigan’s economy.

When asked about the state of the economy, inflation was a key issue brought up.

Dixon argued that Gov. Whitmer has not done enough to alleviate the financial pressures many Michiganders face. One of Dixon’s examples was the gas tax.

“[Gov. Whitmer] had the opportunity to give you a gas tax holiday, and guess what, she voted that as well,” Dixon said. “In fact, Michigan right now has some of the highest gas taxes in the nation and we have some of the highest gas prices in the nation.”

Gov. Whitmer went on to claim that she does support repealing the gas tax as well as other measures that could give Michigan residents more money to spend. Gov. Whitmer said she was also in support of other measures meant to aid people struggling financially across the state.

“A governor cannot fix global inflation, but what we can do is help keep more money in your pocket,” Whitmer explained. “We could repeal the retirement tax, which I do support. We could triple the earned income tax credit, which I also support and we could put a pause on the gas tax.”

The next gubernatorial debate will be aired on FOX UP on Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

To learn more about each candidate’s stance on particular issues, visit Vote411 by clicking this link.