Michigan governor's race: U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain endorses Tudor Dixon

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain endorsed Republican Tudor Dixon for governor Wednesday, becoming the second member of Michigan's congressional delegation to back Dixon's outsider bid for the state's top office.

McClain of Bruce Township has joined fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga of Holland in supporting Dixon, a businesswoman and conservative commentator from Norton Shores, according to her campaign. Dixon, 44, is one of 13 GOP candidates who have formed fundraising committees in hopes of winning their party's nomination in August to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Tudor Dixon

While Dixon's fundraising numbers have lagged her top primary opponents, some in the GOP believe she has the potential to unite competing factions of the party: ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump and fiscal conservatives more focused on economic policy.

"Michigan needs a commonsense business leader with practical solutions running our state, not a career politician," McClain said in a statement Wednesday. "Tudor Dixon is the governor we need in Lansing to get Michigan back on track. 

"I am proud to endorse her and give her my full support."

Trump, whose influence looms over the August gubernatorial primary, endorsed McClain, a first-term U.S. House member from Macomb County for reelection, on Monday. Last week, Dixon held a fundraiser at the former president's Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. Trump made an appearance at the event, calling Dixon "very special." But he hasn't endorsed in Michigan's gubernatorial race yet.

McClain's support gives Dixon, who is from west Michigan, a well-known backer in Metro Detroit. In a statement, Dixon said McClain has a "strong network of loyal activists and supporters."

U.S. Rep-elect Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township, with her dog Peanut in her new office on Capitol Hill, shortly before her swearing in, January 3, 2021.

The timing of McClain's endorsement, two days after Trump endorsed McClain, was no accident, said John Sellek, a political consultant and founder of Harbor Strategic Public Affairs.

Dixon's strategy is to earn Trump's endorsement and gain access to his grassroots support, Sellek said.

"She has done this methodically by winning the Trump consultant sweepstakes, then holding a Mar-a-Lago event with Trump and now adding a second pro-Trump congressional endorsement," the consultant added.

In addition to McClain and Huizenga, Michigan has five other Republican U.S. House members. One of them, Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, has endorsed former Detroit police Chief James Craig for governor.

Dixon's campaign reported in January having $96,259 cash on hand to start 2022, putting her behind Craig, who had $845,970 available, and chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan, who had $315,195.

Self-funding businessmen Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township and Perry Johnson of Bloomfield Hills are expected to pump millions of dollars into their campaigns for the GOP nomination.


Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.