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Who is Shane Hernandez, Tudor Dixon’s pick for Michigan lieutenant governor?

Shane Hernandez
(Screenshot)
  • Michigan GOP governor nominee Tudor Dixon picks Shane Hernandez as running mate
  • Hernandez is a former state lawmaker who led the powerful House appropriations committee
  • Dixon says he’ll fight for ‘limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberties’

Sept. 1: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has 28-1 cash edge over Tudor Dixon, reports show

LANSING — Michigan Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon announced Friday that she has selected former state Rep. Shane Hernandez of Port Huron to be her running mate. 

Dixon announced her choice for lieutenant governor by press release around 4 p.m., roughly one hour before a Michigan Republican Party deadline to submit a name prior to an Aug. 27 nominating convention.

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In a statement, Hernandez said he was "honored" that Dixon selected him to help take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

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Dixon's "vision is the right one for Michigan and I believe we will defeat Whitmer and begin to repair the damage she's caused to our families, students, and business owners," Hernandez said.

Who is Shane Hernandez?

Hernandez, 39, has political roots in the tea party movement and first won election to the Michigan House in 2017. He spent four years in the Legislature before running for Congress in 2020. He lost in the GOP primary to now-Rep. Lisa McCLain.

In Lansing, Hernandez was named the most conservative member of the House in 2017 by the Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) subscription news site. 

In his second term, he chaired the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which helps craft state budgets, and was a leading opponent of Whitmer's failed proposal to fix roads by raising fuel taxes 45-cents-per-gallon.

After losing his congressional campaign, Hernandez continued to work in Lansing as the House GOP caucus strategy director, policy director and caucus services director under current Speaker Jason Wentworth. He left the Legislature in June and has most recently worked as a project manager at Nicholas Sears Construction in Port Huron. He is married and has two daughters. 

If elected in November, Hernandez would be Michigan's first Hispanic lieutenant governor.  He’s credited his dad with teaching him conservative principles by working his way up from general laborer to boiler operator at a Croswell pickle factory.

Why Dixon picked him

In announcing the pick, Dixon's campaign called Hernandez a "conservative Republican who believes in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberties."

The campaign highlighted his opposition to Whitmer's failed gas tax proposal and her push to close Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline, issues Dixon has already raised on the trail. 

"Shane Hernandez as lieutenant governor will help to improve our schools, create safer communities, and improve our economy. Like me, Shane is concerned about the impact rising prices are having on our families," Dixon said in a statement.

How Hernandez could help Dixon

Hernandez is not especially well known statewide but brings something to the table that Dixon lacks: Hands-on experience with the legislative and state budget making process. 

Dixon has never held elected office. She worked in a family steel mill before starting a conservative school news service and eventually co-hosting a conservative news show. 

Hernandez "has the Lansing experience that Tudor Dixon needs in her political helpmate," said GOP strategist Dennis Lennox, who called it a "solid pick." 

Prior to his time in Lansing, Hernandez briefly served as chair of the Blue Water Tea Party, a credential that Lennox said could help him win over GOP delegates who must approve of his nomination at the state party's Aug. 27 state convention. 

"Not only does Shane Hernandez have authentic tea party street cred — Ultra-MAGA before there was such a thing — but he is palatable to every element of the Republican Party," Lennox told Bridge Michigan. 

Hernandez was among the 23 state House members who signed a letter in late 2020 calling for a "complete forensic assessment" of the presidential election after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed voter fraud cost him the contest.

Hernandez also was identified by state Rep. Matt Maddock, R-Milford, as one of a small group of conservatives who wanted to host impeachment hearings against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November 2020 for ordering a second closure of restaurants and bars amid a COVID surge.

Those orders will be heavily debated during this fall’s campaign, as Whitmer deviated from Republican governors who refused to close businesses as COVID flared up again.

Potential pitfalls

It's possible grassroots activists who now dominate the Michigan GOP could challenge Dixon's pick and try to nominate one of their own at the state party convention later this month.

Former gubernatorial candidates Garrett Soldano and Ralph Rebandt have reportedly both expressed interest in a floor nomination. 

Party activists remain fiercely loyal to former Trump, who endorsed Dixon for governor. While Hernandez later aligned himself with the former president, he criticized Trump’s southern border wall proposal as “ridiculous” in the 2016 primary.

Hernandez also may not do much to help Dixon reach out to independent voters. 

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Like Dixon, Hernandez opposes legal abortion, which could be a big issue this fall following the downfall of Roe v. Wade. He co-sponsored legislation to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure and sponsored a bill that would have required doctors to search for a fetal heartbeat before performing any abortion. 

Hernandez was tapped for his powerful appropriations committee position in 2018 by then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Levering Republican now under investigation amid allegations of campaign finance impropriety and sexually assault of a minor.

Chatfield has denied any wrongdoing, but his ties to Hernandez could potentially create another headache for the Michigan GOP, whose presumed nominee for attorney general — Matt DePerno — could end up facing criminal charges as part of a vote tabulator tampering case referred to a special prosecutor..

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