In the aftermath of Michigan’s signature forgery scandal, the four candidates left standing in the state’s GOP primary for governor are now duking it out, each attempting to prove they are more Trump-y than the rest of the pack.
In a debate Wednesday night, each of the four GOP candidates pushed the Big Lie of a stolen 2020 presidential election as they heaped praise on the former president. Trump has not yet endorsed a GOPer in the primary election, which takes place August 2.
Candidates were asked whether they still back Trump even as the Jan. 6 Select Committee’s public hearings continue to reveal more evidence of his troubling actions prior to the Capitol insurrection. Chiropractor Garrett Soldano declared, “President Trump is still my president.”
Commentator Tudor Dixon insisted that she used her platform in conservative media to hype the former president. Dixon complained that there is supposedly too much “focus on all the negative” in the public sphere — negative things like, the deadly Capitol insurrection, which she described as an attack involving “peaceful protesters and then some who disrupted the process.”
Businessman Kevin Rinke praised Trump’s past administration, saying he “would take mean tweets today for a safer America.” (Trump’s Twitter account was suspended following the insurrection. Nowadays, the former president posts his stream-of-conscious on his knockoff Twitter app TRUTH Social, which struggled to gain traction after a series of legal snafus and glitches.)
Real estate broker Ryan Kelly, who stormed the Capitol steps on Jan. 6 but claims he didn’t go inside, has become the highest-polling Republican in the race since his arrest last month on misdemeanor charges related to the insurrection. During the debate, Kelley falsely insinuated that the high cost of gas in the country is a direct result of Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.
“Jan. 6, 2021, back when gas was under $2 a gallon,” Kelley said, referring to a debunked claim shared by social media users. “Those were good times.”
The debate among these four unconventional candidates comes after a huge forgery scandal shook up the entire primary race. Five of the other Republicans running for governor failed to make the Aug. 2 primary ballot because they submitted thousands of forged signatures to the state.
In late May, the state’s Bureau of Elections released a stunning report stating it found five of the 10 candidates for the GOP nomination submitted thousands of invalid signatures, making them ineligible to appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot. A party-line vote by the state Board of Canvassers ended their candidacies soon after, prompting the candidates to appeal that decision in court.
Multiple Michigan courts ruled last month that the state Board of Canvassers made the right decision, which kept several of the GOP frontrunners in the governor’s race off the ballot.