Rinke loans his gov campaign $10 million, Dixon scores big donors as primary nears

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Businessman Kevin Rinke has built a substantial fundraising lead in the Republican race for governor by loaning his campaign $10 million, but many major GOP donors are lining up behind conservative commentator Tudor Dixon with 11 days before the primary election.

All five of the Republican candidates for governor who will be on the Aug. 2 ballot had to file fundraising disclosures by 5 p.m. Friday. Their reports, covering from Jan. 1 through July 17, revealed three contrasting strategies for how to gather resources for a statewide campaign.

Rinke has been relying on his personal wealth, and Dixon has won over well-heeled business leaders, like west Michigan's DeVos family, billionaire Richard Uihlein of Illinois and Bernard Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot.

Michigan's Republican candidates for governor Ryan Kelley, Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke, Tudor Dixon and Ralph Rebandt will participate in their seventh debate at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan on July 20, 2022.  (Image by Daniel Mears/ The Detroit News).

Meanwhile, chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan has been drawing small-dollar contributions. He reported more than 14,600 individual contributions over the first seven months of 2022.

The second largest number of individual contributions disclosed in the GOP field over that time was real estate broker Ryan Kelley of Allendale at 2,800.

Rinke, whose professional career began working for his family's Metro Detroit auto dealerships, loaned his campaign $8 million on March 31, adding to $2 million he had previously provided for his run in 2021.

Before officially getting in the race, he had vowed to invest $10 million in his bid to seek the state's top office.

"It's become abundantly clear that no other candidate can put together the campaign and resources necessary to defeat Gov. Whitmer," Chris Grant, one of Rinke's advisers, told The Detroit News in July 2021.

Overall, Rinke's campaign has raised $10.4 million and spent $6.2 million for the entirety of the campaign, leaving $4.2 million available for the final days before the election. He has expended millions of dollars on TV advertising.

Michigan's Republican candidate for governor Kevin Rinke talks to the media after the seventh debate at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan on July 20, 2022.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer raised about $9.5 million from Jan. 1 through July 17 and had $14.7 million available as of July 18.

Of the five GOP candidates hoping to challenge Whitmer this fall, Soldano has raised the second most money at $2.1 million for the entirety of the primary race. From Jan. 1 through July 17, he reported $736,400 in contributions.

He had $332,096 still available as of July 18.

Soldano has touted his "grassroots" support on the campaign trail, and only four donors gave individual max contributions of $7,150 during the July 1 through July 17 period.

Dixon's campaign received 65 max contributions over that same time frame, including donations from 11 different members of the DeVos family.

Matthew Haworth, chairman of Haworth Inc., David Kepler, a former Dow Chemical executive, and four members of west Michigan's Van Andel family each chipped in $7,150 for Dixon's campaign, according to disclosures.

Overall, Dixon's campaign has raised $1.7 million with $1.2 million coming since the beginning of the year. Her campaign has spent $1.1 million and had $537,899 available on July 18.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Garrett Soldano, a chiropractor from Mattawan, reported more than 14,600 individual contributions between Jan. 1 and July 17 in Friday's campaign finance report.

Kelley's campaign reported raising $208,416 from Jan. 1 through July 17. He's raised $306,673 for the entirety of his campaign.

His bid for governor gained the national spotlight when he has arrested on June 9 and charged with four misdemeanors tied to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty. Kelley raised about $119,000 from June 9, the day of his arrest, until the end of the reporting period. His campaign had $37,801 available as of July 18.

The fifth Republican candidate for governor, Pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills, reported raising $162,705 from Jan. 1 through July 17.

For the entirety of the campaign, he has raised $396,057 and spent $390,503.

cmauger@detroitnews.com