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GOP gubernatorial candidates hold final debate before primary election

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Michigan Republican candidates for governor discussed COVID policy, elections, and their disappointment with Governor Gretchen Whitmer during Wednesday night’s debate in Pontiac.

It’s the final time the candidates will gather together on stage ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.

During the debate hosted by Detroit radio station WJR, candidate Garrett Soldano argued the governor was too heavy-handed in her pandemic response.

"I think every elected official in the beginning kind of gets a get-out-of-jail-free card with this thing because we didn’t know if this was going to be Ebola or smallpox. But I do know this: You don’t take away people’s constitutional freedoms, their sacred values, and citizenry rights, regardless of a pandemic,” Soldano said.

It was a sentiment echoed by the other candidates.

Without disagreeing with one another substantially on policy, Soldano and his four opponents each outlined why they felt they were best to face off with Whitmer in November.

Tudor Dixon said she’s been running an issue-focused campaign.

“Meanwhile, the folks on this stage have been attacking me. They attack me and people hate it just so you’ll know that’s what they’ll do with Gretchen Whitmer and that’s why women will come out in droves and say they don’t want a bully in the governor’s office,” Dixon said.

Near the end of the debate, some candidates began to turn their sights on one another.

Dixon faced heat for receiving support from a political action committee run by the DeVos family, a prominent donor to Republican causes.

Whoever wins the Republican primary election will have a large fundraising gap with Whitmer.

Recent reports show the governor outpacing each Republican by millions of dollars.

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