GOP gubernatorial debate takes place at OU

Five GOP candidates fiercely took to the podium to make their mark in the last debate before the Aug. 2 primary.

Gabrielle Abdelmessih

Five GOP candidates fiercely took to the podium to make their mark in the last debate before the Aug. 2 primary.

Political commentator Tudor Dixon, real estate broker Ryan Kelly, businessman Kevin Rinke, chiropractor Garrett Soldano and pastor Ralph Rebandt exchanged views on water quality, gun control, abortion, adoption, education, and bipartisanship Wednesday in the last Republican gubernatorial debate before the Aug. 2 primary.

The debate was originally supposed to take place outside of the WXYZ station in Detroit but due to threats of inclement weather, was moved to Oakland University (OU) with two days’ notice.

“Over the next 60 hours, no one missed a beat, and the event went off without a hitch,” Chris Reed, director of the Oakland Center, said.

Hosted by WXYZ-TV and their sister stations in Grand Rapids and Lansing, the debate was closed off to the public but was broadcasted on television stations throughout the state.

Topics discussed included water quality, gun control, abortion, adoption, education, and bipartisanship. The full debate can be watched here. As expected, the debate was contentious.

“The DeVos family owns you. You’re our version of Gretchen Whitmer — you’ll say anything and do anything to get elected,” Rinke said to Dixon during a particularly heated moment of the debate.

The Post also had the opportunity to ask four of the five candidates one-on-one questions after the debate. Rinke was not available at the time for comment. Here are portions of what they had to say:

Tudor Dixon

OP: The former secretary of education has endorsed your campaign. After the Jan. 6 insurrection, she submitted her formal letter of resignation to former President Trump citing his rhetoric that led to the riots that day as the inflection point for her resignation. Do you agree with former secretary DeVos’s view that Trump’s rhetoric led to an attempt to undermine the people’s business?

Dixon: I don’t agree, and the secretary knows that, and they’ve also said that they understand a diversity of thought, but they believe that my plan for the state of Michigan is the best plan.

Ryan Kelly 

OP: What exactly do you find offensive about increasing awareness regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs? How, in your view, is that a bad thing?

Kelly: Diversity and inclusion are beautiful words and they should celebrated and they should be cherished. Diverse mindsets, diverse viewpoints, including everybody into the conversation…  What the left has done with DEI is the opposite of that. They want to silence voices like mine. How inclusive is that? How much diversity is that?

That’s what we see with this diversity, equity and inclusion. If it doesn’t align with their agenda, they’re not interested in the viewpoints. I want to have real diversity, real inclusion, where all the voices are at the table where we can give everybody the equal opportunity, not the equal outcomes.

Garrett Soldano 

OP: The story about a 10 yr old rape victim who was denied an abortion in her home state of Ohio made national headlines. Your yourself have made national news when you said you think women who are raped should not have abortions. Do you legitimately believe that the ten-year-old child from Ohio, that victim, shouldn’t have gotten an abortion?

Soldano: I think that when you’re concerned with a 10-year-old, that is a threat of the mother’s health. A 10-year-old should not be delivering a baby.

Ralph Rebandt

OP: What do you consider a failure of the Trump administration besides losing the 2020 election?

Editor’s Note: The following question was a follow-up to the question listed above after Rebandt stated he agreed with the Trump administration in terms of policy. Unfortunately, audio issues prevented The Post from getting the full transcript of Rebandt’s response to the initial question.

OP: Do you agree with everything Trump said? 

Rebandt: I’d have to look back at everything he said. I know there was what some call “mean tweets.” But I look at mean tweets, and honestly, my parents raised me to not worry about what other people say about me or anyone else. So I look at mean tweets versus five dollars a gallon, I’d rather have mean tweets and a dollar eighty-seven a gallon.