In their first campaign debate on Thursday night, eight Republican candidates for governor of Michigan said they would support tighter abortion restrictions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
A leaked draft opinion shows the court is set to overturn the case that established the right to abortion in the country.
Right-wing real estate broker and organizer Ryan Kelley has urged fellow Republicans not to shy away from opposing abortion.
“If Republicans don’t come together and become shamelessly pro-life, we’re going to keep losing,” Kelley said in the crowded dining room at the Crystal Gardens Event and Banquet Center at Howell.
While GOP gubernatorial candidates largely agreed on abortion, there were differences over state funding of Michigan’s 15 public universities.
“We need to fund our students, not the universities,” said Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt. “They have huge endowments. They don’t need more money in our state budget.
But it drew a scathing response from business owner and radio personality Michael Markey: “Education is one of the best investments we can make in anyone.”
Businessman Kevin Rinke said answering the question required looking at more information, although he added: “There’s a lot of money that should be cut.”
There was one question that caused notable disagreement between the candidates.
When asked if Donald Trump won the election in 2020, chiropractor and activist Garrett Soldano said yes.
“President Trump is still my president,” Soldano said, drawing cheers from the packed audience.
But other candidates were rejected. For example, businessman Perry Johnson said it was hard to know.
“Honestly guys, how would you have in a million years, without the data, the exact number of voters?” says Johnson. He reminded the crowd, “I’m not a Democrat,” when his remark prompted some pushback from the audience.
When the candidates were asked who their favorite president was, three of the eight chose Trump. The others split their votes between Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.
Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig was one of two Republican gubernatorial candidates who skipped Thursday night’s debate.
Craig said he had a scheduling conflict.
But fellow candidates, including conservative media personality Tudor Dixon, suggested Craig had other reasons.
“I would have liked to hear his answers, what is his plan for the state. Maybe his plan isn’t to run the state. I’m not sure,” Dixon said after the event.
Other candidates have suggested that Craig’s days on the campaign trail may be coming to an end.
Craig’s campaign has faced several issues in recent months, including a challenge for signatures on his nomination petition.