U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga endorses Tudor Dixon for Michigan governor

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, a longtime Republican lawmaker from west Michigan, is endorsing political newcomer Tudor Dixon in the GOP primary race to be the state's next governor.

In a Tuesday interview, Huizenga of Holland said he decided to back Dixon, a businesswoman and conservative commentator, because of the combination of her communication skills and her background in the steel industry. He described her experience in manufacturing as "sorely lacking" in Michigan government.

Tudor Dixon

"We need someone like her who has a vision and an understanding but also can communicate that in a very solid way," Huizenga said.

The endorsement from one of the seven GOP U.S. House members from Michigan is a political victory for Dixon's campaign, which some experts argue has the potential to shake up the primary race but, so far, has trailed other candidates in fundraising and winning the media spotlight.

Dixon, 44, of Norton Shores previously worked in a foundry business her father operated in west Michigan and hosted America's Voice Live, a conservative news show.

As of Oct. 20, Dixon's campaign had raised $347,651, according to campaign finance disclosures. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Mattawan chiropractor Garrett Soldano had raised $1.4 million and $1.1 million, respectively.

Another GOP candidate, businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township launched his campaign on Nov. 22 and has said he will spend $10 million of his own money on his bid.

But Huizenga, who previously served in the state Legislature before winning his seat in the U.S. House in 2010, said some well-known Michigan donors have been sitting on the sidelines and will likely get more involved next year.

"I think there is real opportunity," Huizenga said of Dixon's fundraising.

Apparently referencing Rinke, the congressman said he was concerned about self-funding candidates using their wealth to try to freeze out "mere financial mortals." Dixon doesn't have to raise the most money but has to collect enough to get her message out, Huizenga said.

The congressman added that both he and his wife, Natalie, are supporting Dixon and will appear in a video promoting her campaign.

Since the last election, 11 Republican candidates have formed committees to run for Michigan governor. The nominee will be picked by GOP primary voters in August. The winner will challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Of the other Republican House members from Michigan, U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, previously endorsed Craig for governor, according to the former police chief's website.