Whitmer, 51, and Dixon, 45, met twice on the debate stage in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's election, once on Oct. 3 and then again three weeks later on Oct. 25. Whitmer used those debates to convince Michigan voters that she needed a few more years to implement the agenda she had proposed when she initially ran for governor in 2018. That year, Whitmer famously promised to "fix the damn roads," a slogan that resonated with beleaguered Michigan drivers but that did not really transition from slogan to state action.
Whitmer also defended her record, in particular her decisions regarding the government shutdown because of COVID and the placement COVID-positive patients in nursing homes when the elderly were particularly vulnerable to COVID infection. In the second debate, Whitmer stumbled a bit and committed an unforced error when she tried to minimize the amount of school Michigan kids missed during the shutdown.
"Mrs. Dixon says that I kept students out longer than any other state. That’s just not true," Whitmer stated. "I worked closely with my Republican and Democratic governors.
"Kids were out for three months," she alleged.
That line did not sit well with frustrated parents, some of whom had children who were prevented from attending in-person schooling as late as January 2022.
However, Whitmer's campaign then recovered a bit and stabilized her polling numbers. In the months since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, she focused heavily on the abortion issue. Proposal 3 on the ballot this year offered Michigan voters the chance to make abortion access a state constitutional right, and Whitmer strongly advocated for that measure.
"Abortion is a fundamental right," Whitmer tweeted on Nov. 5.
Dixon, on the other hand, remained staunchly pro-life and also denounced the sexualized school library material that had recently outraged parents in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Whitmer dismissed those concerns and quipped during the debate, "Do you really think books are more dangerous than guns?"
The abortion issue appeared to be a winner for Whitmer. Proposal 3 also looks like it will pass.