Dixon focuses on education, crime during last rally in Grand Rapids

The night before the 2022 midterm election, GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon held her final Welcome Home rally in Grand Rapids on Nov. 7, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance

GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon on Monday night held a final “Welcome Home” campaign rally in Grand Rapid before polls opened Tuesday morning. 

“We’ve got to get everybody out because this is a moment where parents need to speak up. Parents and grandparents, this isn’t even about us. This is about the future. This is about our kids. This is about making sure that Michigan lives on and doesn’t get crushed by leftist radicals,” Dixon said underneath an airplane hangar at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Dixon, who is from Muskegon County, is up against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Tuesday’s election. Whitmer held her final campaign rally with the Democratic ticket at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

The Republican was joined on stage by running mate Shane Hernandez, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), GOP attorney general nominee Matthew DePerno, U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and Republican U.S. House candidate John Gibbs.

For Tuesday’s election, Gibbs is up against Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney from Grand Rapids in the 3rd Congressional District; DePerno is up against Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel; Moolenaar is up against Democrat Jerry Hilliard in Michigan’s 2nd District; and Huizenga is up against Democrat Joseph Alfonso in Michigan’s 4th District.

Kristina Karamo, the GOP secretary of state nominee who’s in a race with Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, was not at the Grand Rapids event.

Dixon used her last rally before votes are tallied to attack Whitmer on her COVID-19 stay-home orders, education and crime, as she’s done at dozens of events.

In the last debate in October, Whitmer criticized Dixon over school safety, namely Dixon’s stance on banning “pornographic” books from school libraries, although she has not released any titles, and her belief that some teachers should be armed in schools. 

Whitmer backs “red flag” and safe gun storage laws and has criticized Dixon’s plan to harden schools, saying at the debate: “Ask yourself: who’s going to keep your kids safe? The former prosecutor with plans, or the candidate with thoughts and prayers?”

On Monday, Dixon blasted Whitmer for saying she supports the “spirit” of the defund the police movement after George Floyd, a Minneapolis Black man, was killed by police. Whitmer has continuously signed budgets that increased state police funding, with more funding toward deescalation training.

Dixon promised the crowd that, if elected, her administration will put $1 billion into law enforcement.

She also spent a good amount of her 15-minute speech talking about improving the state’s education system through tutors and making sure all students can read by the third grade. Michigan has a law mandating this metric.

Whitmer also has stressed tutoring. She signed the largest K-12 budget in Michigan history this summer, which included funds for districts to develop learning pods for academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged students to help kids with learning loss.

Dixon has proposed that the state “fund 25 hours of one-on-one or small group tutoring in reading and math for every student in Michigan” using some of the state’s federal COVID-19 relief funding. The funding could go to private, virtual tutoring programs, instead of focusing on providing funding to boost support already in the K-12 public schools.

“I’m not going to let this governor continue to drag this education system through the mud,” Dixon said. “… We’re going to have a great future. And guess what, our parents are going to be involved.”