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Whitmer and Dixon Prepare for First Debate This Week

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Election Day is four weeks from Tuesday and later this week Michiganders have the first debate between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and challenger Tudor Dixon.

There are just two debates scheduled between the two women vying for the governor’s seat, this Thursday and Tuesday October 25th. These will be the first times the two are facing each other on a stage and have the potential to clear up some of the undecided voters across the state.

“Debates can go one of two ways, they can be snoozers or they can supply fireworks and really alter the course of a race,” said John Sellek, Republican strategist and founder of Harbor Strategic.

The pair have been doing a lot of attacking of each other in their own events or on the airwaves but Thursday they will face off for the first time and have to answer for each other’s claims and attacks.

“You’re not only going to be face to face with your opponent but you’re going to be out there on the circus stage with everybody watching you from a 360 vantage,” said Sellek, “One misstep and you fall off the rope and hit the net.”

Sellek knows what it takes to prepare for a debate against Whitmer, he was on Bill Schuette’s team when he ran for governor in 2018.

Whitmer is the experienced lifelong politician, Dixon is the novice. The weight is on her to expose the governor’s weaknesses.

“The Dixon campaign has to come out of each of these debates drawing some blood. They have to be on the offense and they are going to have to pick an issue or two to get the governor to stumble,” said Sellek.

Whitmer will surely focus on reproductive rights, an issue she is on the most popular side of. Sellek said Dixon will avoid that to attack Whitmer’s record.

“There’s lot about education and learning loss and what’s being taught in school and parental rights,” said Sellek, “What we continue to see in the polls, that’s most damaging to Democrats, is the economy.”

There will be value for Dixon just to be there. With limited resources, she’s not on television as much as Whitmer and thus there is less name recognition.

“It may more so be a victory for Dixon just in the sense that people got to see her in what is probably one of her stronger suits,” said Sellek, “Which is being on television and directly communicating to an audience.”

That’s because by all measures, Whitmer is leading.

“Make no mistake, these polls matter,” said Sellek, “That information gets into people’s minds and it’s just human nature to want to be on the side potentially of the winner.”

The amount of that lead is unclear. Many polls say Whitmer has a major lead with high amounts of undecided voters. A recent CBS News poll over the weekend showed just a six-point lead, thanks to them removing those undecided voter.

“Basically what they did is they asked a lot of questions of people who said they were undecided,” said Sellek, “And were able to deem, in their opinion, which way they were leaning.”

The debate is at 7 PM Thursday and can be seen on Local 32.

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