Republican Michigan gubernatorial candidates gathered Thursday night in Detroit for their second — and final — televised debate of the midterm election season. The debate lasted about an hour.
Who are the candidates?
Dr. Jim Hines, president of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Attorney General Bill Schuette. and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck — the four Republican contenders for Michigan governor — attended the debate Thursday evening.
A June poll from NMB Research has Schuette currently favored to win the party nomination, with 45 percent support.
The Detroit Free Press bills Colbeck as the most conservative candidate of the four.
Schuette is the Trump-endorsed candidate and the party’s favored candidate. Calley, however, has been vocal in his support of the president, though he initially supported John Kasich in the 2016 presidential race.
What happened during the debate?
According to NPR's Michigan Radio, the four men fell easily into their roles within their candidacy.
Schuette spoke of his Trump endorsement and his support for the president's policies, while Hines played the card of D.C. outsider and non-politician. Calley zeroed in on his record with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and called himself a candidate with a "real plan for the future," while Colbeck played on the media's notation that he is the most conservative candidate of the four men.
The debate issues covered local topics, such as Great Lakes water issues and education, but also touched upon national issues like trade and immigration.
Schuette went on the offensive when it came to Democratic gubernatorial candidates, and specifically Gretchen Whitmer.
“The Democrats and Whitmer, you look at their plans … economic collapse, tax upon tax upon tax, it’s going to drive people out of the state. It’d be a mass exodus,” Schuette explained.
Schuette said that he was "optimistic" about trade despite the Trump administration tariffs.
"We’ve been on the short end of trading relationships for a long time. The president is trying to re-balance and renegotiate trading relationships,” Schuette said. “In Bill Schuette, you’ll have someone who can actually get in the front door of the White House, and speak the Michigan language about jobs and agriculture.”
Touching upon education, Schuette also emphasized statewide school choice.
Calley was tasked with a question about how he would deal with any Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's imminent retirement.
“I think the laws in the state of Michigan reflect pro-life values already," he said. "They’re still on the books from before [Roe vs. Wade]. I don’t even think you’d have to change anything. And I’d absolutely want the president to nominate a pro-life Supreme Court justice.”
Calley also touched upon early child education, noting his opposition to Common Core standards and desire to get back to the basics of education.
Hines discussed protection of the Great Lakes, and said that he supported decommissioning Enbridge's Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac, calling himself a "leading opponent to diversion of our Great Lakes Water." Like Calley, Hines also voiced disapproval for Common Core standards in education.
Hines — and Colbeck — voiced their support for the Trump administration's trade policies.
For his part, Colbeck voiced support for Trump, and had nothing but criticisms for Schuette, who did not join other GOP attorneys general to stand up for Trump's travel ban in court.
“The folks who actually got President Trump into office … actually support me,” Colbeck explained.
What did the candidates agree on?
All four candidates expressed beliefs that they would be able to address the state's infrastructure and roads without having to raise taxes, and all four candidates voiced their staunch support of Second Amendment rights.
The men also seemed to agree that Trump's tough stance on immigration was necessary, but noted that they did not support separating illegal immigrant families.
In his closing remarks, Calley said that he believes he has a "real plan" to advance Michigan to the future.
Schuette's closing remarks included a desire to cut Michigan taxes in the same way that Trump reduced taxes on a federal level.
Hines reaffirmed his status as the group's "true outsider" during his closing remarks, and asked those in attendance to consider what other lawmakers have done for Michigan in the way of infrastructure, insurance, and education.
Colbeck said that Michigan voters should go deeper than simple "one-minute sound bites" from other candidates and consider voting carefully.
You can watch Thursday night’s debate in the video below and read more debate highlights here.