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Dixon, Michigan Republican leadership at odds following election loss

 Shane Hernandez and Tudor Dixon at the state Republican Party convention on Aug. 27, 2022.
Colin Jackson
Shane Hernandez and Tudor Dixon at the state Republican Party convention on Aug. 27, 2022.

Tudor Dixon and the Michigan Republican Party are finding themselves at odds after Tuesday’s election loss. Aside from missing out on the chance to unseat the state’s Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, the party lost control of both houses of the Legislature for the first time since 1984.

An internal GOP memo blamed Dixon's loss to Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer on her low name-recognition following the primary, lackluster fundraising, and narrow messaging.

“Dixon’s campaign had no money, no statewide operations, and was attempting to transition from three weeks of working for and receiving an endorsement from Donald Trump, into a general election audience with a more unfavorable opinion of the former President Trump than of President Biden,” the memo from MIGOP Chief of Staff Paul Cordes read.

Over the course of four pages, the memo breaks down internal polling and projects ahead of the election. While Dixon narrowed the gap with Whitmer as Election Day approached, the party’s internal polling “never showed her within striking distance.”

Beyond that, it mentions how donors remained on the sidelines until late in the race, partially due to a split over allegiance to Trump. Another issue involved how much money Democratic-aligned groups spent hammering Dixon on her stances on social issues on the airwaves, while Dixon focused on culture-war issues rather than traditional topics, like inflation or gas prices.

Despite that, Cordes said in the memo, local Republican candidates did well in their races in comparison with the statewide ticket.

“We did not have a turn out problem — middle of the road voters simply didn’t like what Tudor was selling,” the memo said.

Dixon took to Twitter this week to air out her concerns with how party leadership handled her campaign — and take issue with Cordes' assessment of what went wrong.

“It’s easy to come out and point fingers now, but the truth is they fought against me every step of the way and put the entire ticket at risk,” Dixon wrote.

She accused Cordes, as well as party co-chairs Ron Weiser and Meshawn Maddock, of refusing “to take ownership for their own failures.”

Dixon finished her message off with a call for fresh Republican leadership.

In a written statement provided by the state Republican party, Cordes denied working against Dixon.

“We did nothing but stand with her, so that’s a clear lie. We turned out more Republicans than in previous midterm elections. I’m struggling to find what parts of the memo, based on data from this past Tuesday, she’s struggling with. Our memo speaks for itself,” Cordes said.

Observers of the fray are also defending the memo's content.

In an appearance on Michigan Radio’s ‘It’s Just Politics’ Friday, Republican strategist Jason Roe said he would have put out a similar letter if he were in the state party’s position.

“I’ve read it. I’ve re-read it. I don’t see anything in there that’s inaccurate. I think it’s a pretty sober assessment of what happened. I think the Dixon campaign may be taking it personally. I don’t think the tone of it was frankly directed at them,” he said.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Colin Jackson