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Garrett Soldano to Donald Trump: Stay out of the Michigan governor’s race

Garrett Soldano in his home
Garrett Soldano, who has sought Trump’s endorsement, is now asking the former president to stay out of the Michigan governor’s race (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michigan GOP governor candidate asks Donald Trump to stay out of the primary race
  • Garrett Soldano’s comments target Tudor Dixon, who has led some recent polls of the race
  • Trump has praised Dixon but not yet endorsed any candidate

Update: Tudor Dixon wins Trump endorsement in bid for Michigan governor

LANSING — Michigan Republican gubernatorial hopeful Garrett Soldano on Wednesday pleaded with Donald Trump to "stay out" of the primary election, warning the former president that "the grassroots will be extremely, extremely unhappy" if he endorses "the establishment-backed" candidate. 

The public plea is a new position for Soldano, who last week said surrogates were encouraging Trump to endorse him. 

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Soldano’s Wednesday comments targeted fellow GOP candidate Tudor Dixon, who the former president publicly praised before she was endorsed by the powerful DeVos family of west Michigan.

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The “DeVos empire" has "basically abandoned you, sir," Soldano told Trump in a Facebook live video, referencing former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who criticized Trump and resigned from his administration following Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.

"We want President Trump to stay out of this race to allow these great candidates to duke it out, and then allow 'we the people' to determine who we want to have represent us in our own party," Soldano said in the livestream.

Dixon, of Norton Shores, fired back in a statement, suggesting "candidates who are failing to gain traction" are now trying to "weaponize" a potential Trump endorsement.  

"It is sad to see a candidate attempt to manipulate President Trump," Dixon said. "Desperate times call for desperate measures from desperate campaigns."

It’s the second time in a week she has called a fellow GOP candidate desperate.

Last week, Dixon applied the label to businessman Kevin Rinke after he aired an ad that questioned her loyalty to Trump for accepting “millions” from “billionaires who tried to remove Trump from office.” Dixon also demanded he take down the ad and warned of legal action, but his campaign has continued to air a slightly modified version. 

On Wednesday, Rinke doubled down with another ad slamming Dixon for her ties to DeVos and claiming she is "bankrolled by liberals, Never Trumpers, and America’s betrayers." 

Dixon has led some recent surveys of GOP primary voters, but with less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the race remains a clear "toss up," pollster Richard Czuba said Wednesday during a taping of WKAR-TV's "Off The Record."

With more than a third of the GOP electorate still undecided, "the best way to win this primary, is to go and win Donald Trump's endorsement," Czuba told reporters. 

Czuba's most recent survey, conducted for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV, showed Dixon pacing the GOP field with support from 18.6 percent of likely primary voters. But three other candidates — Rinke, Soldano and Ryan Kelley — were all within the margin of error, suggesting a four-way tie in the race to take on Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer in the Nov. 8 general election. 

The poll was conducted last week before Rinke began running television ads attacking Dixon over the DeVos endorsement.

Soldano, a Mattawan chiropractor, took the Dixon attacks a step further on Wednesday, alleging the DeVos family is conspiring to "take down" attorney general candidate Matt DePerno, who in April won a contested endorsement convention with Trump's backing. 

That made DePerno the Michigan GOP's presumed nominee for attorney general, but the nomination will not be officially decided until the state party's Aug. 27 convention. 

Dixon has not publicly endorsed DePerno, Soldano noted in his livestream, before suggesting she might be part of the conspiracy. 

"Why... What's going on behind the scenes right now," Soldano asked.

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Fred Wszolek, who runs a super PAC supporting Dixon and a ballot committee working with DeVos on an education scholarship proposal, said there is "nothing to" Soldano's claims of a potential DePerno ouster.

"I don't think anybody is sort of angling to take DePerno's nomination away from him," Wszolek told Bridge, noting the attorney won a hard-fought endorsement convention this spring and Republicans must now "move on" and try to win the general election race.

"It's hard to understand why you would demonize the most generous, politically active family in conservative politics," Wszolek added, referencing the DeVoses.

"It boggles the mind."

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