Tudor Dixon campaign asks TV stations to 'pull' Dem-backed ad against her

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — A group backed by the Democratic Governors Association is launching a TV ad attacking Republican Tudor Dixon days ahead of the GOP primary election on Tuesday, but Dixon's campaign is asking stations to "pull" the commercial.

Put Michigan First purchased about $2 million in ad time for the coming days and revealed plans to run a commercial contending that Dixon's policies will "slash" funding for police agencies.

"Tudor Dixon’s devastating plan would mean less cops on the street, making Michigan less safe," the ad says.

A group backed by Democrats is launching a TV ad criticizing Republican Tudor Dixon's plans for funding law enforcement.

In a statement, Dixon, a conservative commentator from Norton Shores, fired back, saying she's the "law and order candidate" who's been endorsed by the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

And on Wednesday, a day after news of the ad buy broke, a lawyer for Dixon's campaign sent TV stations in Michigan a letter telling them the ad was "false" and they had "a legal obligation not to air such smears designed to mislead Michigan voters."

"Your station has an obligation to not publicize information that you are now aware is false and defamatory," Dixon lawyer Charlie Spies wrote in the letter. "You are now again on notice and have the duty and obligation to pull this advertisement from your airwaves."

The move from the Democratic Governors Association came as Dixon competes with four other Republicans for their party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

In mid-July, Dixon held a slight edge in the primary race for the state's top job with many GOP voters still undecided, according to a poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4).

Of 500 likely GOP primary voters surveyed July 13-15, 19% said they would vote for Dixon while 15% picked businessman Kevin Rinke, 13% favored real estate broker Ryan Kelley and 12% backed chiropractor Garrett Soldano. About 2% backed Pastor Ralph Rebandt, and 38% of Republican voters surveyed said they were undecided.

Dixon's slim lead fell within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

She has been endorsed by west Michigan's DeVos family, Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Some Republicans believe Dixon is best positioned to unite the party to take on the Democratic incumbent.

The Put Michigan First ad buy was a significant step that could be an attempt to hurt Dixon in both the primary and general elections.

"We’re holding Michigan Republicans accountable for their harmful policies that would make life worse for families in Michigan," said Sam Newton, spokesman for the Democratic organization.

Referring to Dixon's plan to cut the state's 4.25% personal income tax, the ad says Dixon would reduce funding for police by $500 million.

Rinke has called for doing away with the tax completely in a single step. But Dixon has argued for reducing the income tax over time.

The new ad cites a past statement from the Michigan Association of Police Organizations that said a proposal to eliminate the income tax would have "a devastating impact on police department budgets at the state and local levels."

"Tudor Dixon’s devastating plan would mean less cops on the street, making Michigan less safe," the ad says.

In his letter to Michigan TV stations, Spies wrote that Put Michigan First had provided no evidence that Dixon has a budget plan that would "slash" money from state police.

Spies noted that Dixon's website includes a pledge to "fully fund law enforcement agencies across the state and block any budget cuts meant to reduce law enforcement budgets."

In a statement, Dixon said Whitmer is "scared to death of me."

"That's why her far-left out-of-state funders are airing these false attacks and trying to knock me out in the primary," Dixon said.

The Police Officers Association of Michigan endorsed Dixon in June, saying she has made a "commitment to making public safety a priority."

Dixon has criticized Whitmer for saying in 2020 that she supported the “spirit” of efforts to defund the police. The conversation surrounding the “defund the police” movement was really about reprioritizing resources, Whitmer told The Root in June 2020.

However, Whitmer has worked to provide police departments more funds to hire additional officers.

The $2-million ad buy "is going to leave a mark in the final days" of the primary campaign, tweeted John Yob, a longtime Republican political consultant who had worked with past GOP candidate Perry Johnson.