Detroit Regional Chamber > Media Coverage > 5 of 10 Republican candidates invited to gubernatorial debate at Mackinac Policy Conference

5 of 10 Republican candidates invited to gubernatorial debate at Mackinac Policy Conference

May 16, 2022
Melissa Frick
May 13, 2022

DETROIT, MI – Only half of the declared Republican candidates in the running for Michigan Governor were invited to participate in a GOP gubernatorial debate at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference next month.

The Detroit Regional Chamber invited five of the state’s 10 GOP gubernatorial hopefuls to participate in the June 2 debate, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, the Chamber announced this week.

The five candidates on the roster are James Craig, Perry Johnson, Ryan Kelley, Kevin Rinke, and Garrett Soldano, according to a Chamber news release.

The five gubernatorial candidates who were not invited to participate include Mike Brown, Tudor Dixon, Michael Markey Jr., Ralph Rebandt, and Donna Brandenburg. They were invited to attend the Mackinac Policy Conference, but not to participate in the debate, the Chamber said.

According to the Chamber, the participants selected for the debate were identified as the “top five” most well-known candidates based on a recent statewide survey of Republican primary voters.

The survey, conducted by The Glengariff Group Inc., polled 500 likely August 2022 Republican Primary voters between April 29 and May 1. Survey respondents were read the names of all 10 filed candidates in alphabetical order and asked who they would support as the GOP nominee for governor.

Nearly 45% of respondents said they don’t know yet who they’re voting for. But polling showed Craig, the former Detroit police chief, was the preferred candidate with 23% support from respondents. He was the only candidate with a double-digit lead.

Soldano, a Kalamazoo chiropractor, came in second with 8.2% of support from respondents. Rinke, a Bloomfield Hills businessman, earned 5.6% of support from respondents. Just below that came Kelley, an Allendale real estate broker, at 5.4%; and Johnson, a Bloomfield Hills entrepreneur, at 5.2%.

Brown, Dixon, Markey Jr., Rebandt, and Brandenburg each garnered less than 3% of support from respondents, according to the survey results. See the entire survey here.

The Chamber noted that the debate lineup could be subject to change based on future polling, if “new, public, independent polling further identifies additional competitive candidates.”

The lineup could also change if the Board of State Canvassers rules on ongoing ballot petition challenges involving Craig, Johnson, and Dixon, the Chamber said.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is pleased to welcome Michigan’s Republican Gubernatorial hopefuls to Michigan’s Center Stage as they present their vision for our state’s future,” said Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to the candidates for Governor giving our attendees and a statewide audience their perspectives on Michigan’s future beyond campaign soundbites.”

The June 2 debate lineup was announced the same day that Republican candidates were scheduled for their first major debate ahead of the 2022 gubernatorial election.

On Thursday night, eight of the 10 GOP candidates faced off during a debate at the Livingston County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Howell. All 10 candidates were invited to participate, but Craig and Brandenburg did not attend.

The gubernatorial hopefuls debated everything from school funding and curriculum to abortions, COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election.

Michigan’s GOP primary election is scheduled for Aug. 2.

The winner will challenge Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November’s general election.

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