Question 1): Tudor Dixon, the Republicans’ gubernatorial nominee, last Friday announced her pick to be her running mate in this fall’s campaign leading up to the Nov. 8 general election. He’s Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron), a former state Representative who chaired the House Appropriations Committee in only his second (and last) of two terms. during 2019-20. He passed up running for a third term when a vacancy occurred in the 10th Congressional District because of the unexpected retirement of U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell. Hernandez ran for the GOP nomination in the 10th CD against two other candidates, but was surprisingly edged out by newcomer businesswoman Lisa McClain, 42%-36%, with a third candidate garnering nearly a quarter of the vote. Dixon and Hernandez can’t take anything for granted — they may face a challenge from disgruntled delegates at the Republicans’ state convention in the Lansing Center this coming Saturday, Aug. 27, possibly from the third-place finisher in the Aug. 2 GOP gubernatorial primary, Garrett Soldano, a Mattawan chiropractor. Such challenges shouldn’t be taken lightly — Republican Rick Snyder faced similar challenges to his LG pick in 2010 and 2014, Brian Calley, but managed to fend them off after some scary and embarrassing moments. So, with all this said, was Hernandez a good choice for Dixon?
Answer 1): The first challenge for any nominee for governor is to follow the Code of Aesculapius, the Roman God of Medicine: “First, do no harm.” Dixon appears to have met that test with Hernandez, who will turn 40 years old tomorrow (8/23). The vice-president of a Port Huron architectural firm, he was one of the most conservative members of the state House while a member and was given the chairmanship of its most powerful standing committee, Appropriations, where he did a solid job. After he lost his primary fight to McClain, he was appointed a “staff aide” to the new Speaker of the House, Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), for the past two years, but he was far more than that. He has been the man in charge of masterminding the House GOP caucus’s campaign to retain control of their majority at a very tricky time — after a census-fueled reapportionment in brand-new districts fashioned by a first-in-history redistricting commission that didn’t have the Republicans’ best interests in mind when they drew up the new maps. So, the choice of Hernandez must mean that the Michigan GOP and the House Republican caucus feel that Hernandez has gotten things pretty much under control and in place as a “staff aide” going forward so that they can still retain their House majority even with someone else running the show. Hernandez is handsome, smart, articulate, and he brings one obvious benefit to the Republican slate of constitutional officer nominees — he’s the only one of the four who has ever been elected to anything. Neither Dixon nor Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno nor Secretary of State nominee Kristina Karamo has ever served in public office. Moreover, Hernandez proved to be a star as a state legislator. His credentials are far stronger than those of his Democratic counterpart, incumbent LG Garlin Gilchrist II. Hernandez will have to address two questions from critics of the Dixon/Hernandez ticket, both at the GOP convention and the news media and Democratic Party. They are: 1) How does he explain his dismissal in 2016 of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to build a southern U.S. “border wall” against Mexico as “ridiculous”? and 2) How does he account for being appointed chairman of the House Appropriations panel by now-disgraced former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering)? How close a confidant was he of Chatfield? Did he know about the Speaker’s behavior yet stayed mute? Hernandez may be cut some slack about his Trump/border wall comment because he is the son of migrants, which reminds voters that he gives the GOP still another reason for nominating him — he supplies a dash of much-needed “color” to the ticket. As for Chatfield, that’s a whole ‘nother thing, and Hernandez must be prepared to provide answers.
Meanwhile, a new poll released last week by a relatively objective polling firm (AARP Michigan/Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research) shows Whitmer with only a 51%-46% lead over the virtually unknown Dixon with roughly two and a half months left before 11/8, so, as we know Yogi used to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”