LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has released the first ad of her re-election campaign, highlighting her accomplishments in childcare, education investments, and pandemic recovery.
The 30-second ad entitled 'Family' was announced in a press release Tuesday. The advertisement was set to air on broadcast and cable TV in the Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, and Traverse City media markets, according to the release.
The ad unveiling comes just three weeks before Michigan's primary election, in which Whitmer faces no Democratic party challenger in the gubernatorial race. On the Republican side, there is still no consistent frontrunner.
While Republican gubernatorial candidates have lashed out at Whitmer's policies in recent gubernatorial debates, including her COVID-19 safety restrictions, Whitmer's ad focuses on her bipartisan achievements.
“If you have the air space to tell your own message, do you want to spend that time reacting to someone else’s narrative about you, or do you want to tell your own side of it and leave it up to the voters to decide who they want to believe?” said Andrea LaFontaine, Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University and a former Republican state Representative.
November's presidential midterm election is now just a few months away, but up to this point the Whitmer campaign has held a chief focus on policy, without much overt campaigning.
In Grand Rapids Tuesday, Whitmer touted the state's $76 billion bipartisan budget passed two weeks earlier.
“Best of all, it doesn’t raise taxes by a dime," Whitmer said. "And it was delivered on time."
Since half of Michigan's Republican pool for governor was kicked off of the primary ballot over fake and invalid signatures, polls have shown different Republicans leading, but none by more than a couple of points.
“The GOP race has been led by one group of people: undecided. The entire time,” said John Sellek, CEO of Lansing's Harbor Strategic Public Affairs and a former Republican advisor.
A Monday poll by Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) and Mitchell Research shows West Michigan conservative commentator Tudor Dixon leading by double digits, up 11 points from the closest candidate in the race.
“I think most people thought all along she was a good enough talent - skilled communicator, smart candidate, that if she had enough money to finally get herself up on the platform where people could see her, then her numbers were going to go up,” Sellek said.
In the last few weeks, Dixon has been gifted enough money by an outside donor to get her campaign ads on air. In addition to the boost in fundraising, Dixon has seen a slew of endorsements, including from anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan and key legislative leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.
Without a candidate consistently polling high, both Sellek and LaFontaine say every Republican gubernatorial candidate remains in an advantageous position.
“I also think it gives the candidates that still exist an opportunity to kind of find their strong suit and find their way,” said LaFontaine.
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