An elimination round comes early for half of the 10 Republicans jostling for nomination to challenge Gretchen Whitmer. Ten weeks before Primary Day, one has quit and four others seem likely to be knocked out Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers.
That sets the stage for an opening Donald Trump has awaited. "With [Perry] Johnson out of the race, it's very likely Trump will endorse Dixon," pollster Steve Mitchell of West Bloomfield tells Detroit News opinion editor Nolan Finley.
"The canvassers meet Thursday to determine whether the Bureau of Elections was right to bounce former [Detroit] Police Chief James Craig and wealthy businessman Perry Johnson because of too few valid signatures on their nominating petitions," Finley posts Tuesday afternoon in a column about the shakeout week.
Reports at this point indicate fraudulent collection and presentation of signatures.
It's a good bet Craig and Johnson are gone, along with three other never-heard-of Republicans whose petitions were also rife with fake signatures. State Police Capt. Michael Brown has already bowed out.
The turning-point news from Lansing came a day after "Dixon scored an enorsement nearly as important as Trump's," Finley writes.
She is the pick of the powerful west Michigan DeVos family. ... The family's patriarch, Dick DeVos, a former gubernatorial candidate himself, took what was for him the unusual step of publicly announcing their backing on WJR's Paul W. Smith show. That's how much the DeVoses want to beat Whitmer.
Trump is also obsessed with beating "that woman from Michigan," and may see profit in teaming with the DeVoses.
The ex-president appeared with Dixon at a Mar-a-Lago campaign fundraiser in February and praised her as "fantastic" and "very popular" at a Macomb rally in Washington Township. Three rival candidates -- Craig, Johnson and Kevin Rinke -- were present, but not saluted by Trump.
Dixon, a conservative cable news host of "America's Voice Live" who lives in Muskegon County, has falsely claimed Trump won Michigan in 2020. "I was proud to stand alongside President Trump, as I have been doing in Michigan since he came down the golden escalator," she tweeted after her Florida visit on Feb. 2.
After Thursday's expected eliminations, her remaining rivals will be Oakland County auto dealer Kevin Rinke and what Finley derides as "a trio of conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers" -- Garrett Soldano, Ralph Rebandt and Ryan Kelley.
Trump likes to win, and there's not a winner in that bunch. ... Now [Dixon] looks like the one to beat.
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