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GOP gubernatorial candidates agree on opposing regulations and critical race theory during debate

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Michigan Radio

The five Republican candidates on next month’s primary ballot largely agreed on the issues during a debate Wednesday night.

Businessman Kevin Rinke, pastor Ralph Rebandt, media personality Tudor Dixon, real estate broker Ryan Kelley, and chiropractor Garrett Soldano squared off for an hour during the televised debate.

The GOP hopefuls were united in opposition to the idea of critical race theory and in favor of cutting regulations to assist Michigan businesses.

The unity continued as the candidates responded to a question on how Michigan should work to reduce the number of children in foster care, if the state’s 1931 law banning abortion takes effect in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Roe v. Wade decision.

Ryan Kelley said the state needs to do more to promote adoption.

“We’re going to work to put things in place to make it easier for parents to adopt children and find the right homes,” said Kelley.

Soldano wants to invest state dollars at private women’s resource centers that promote adoption over abortion.

“We have to do everything that we can to help these women and these children that go into the foster care and the adoption centers.”

Other candidates criticized Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent vetoes of funding for adoption and women's resource centers.

The liveliest exchange during Wednesday’s Republican gubernatorial debate was over who was the most “establishment” candidate.

Several candidates criticized conservative media personality Tudor Dixon for having the backing of the DeVos family.

“The fact of the matter is the DeVos family owns you,” Kevin Rinke accused Dixon. “You’re our version of Gretchen Whitmer. You’ll say anything to get elected.”

Dixon countered that the other candidates had sought the DeVos endorsement.

“Both Kevin Rinke and Garrett Soldano were looking for support from all of those same people that now they’re so angry about,” said Dixon. “Sounds like sour grapes to me, sir.”

In his closing statement, pastor Ralph Rebandt remarked on the infighting among his fellow Republican candidates.

“What we have just observed what we don’t need in Lansing,” Rebandt said.

In next month’s Republican primary, Michigan voters will decide who they think the GOP needs as a nominee to challenge Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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