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Gubernatorial Debate: What to expect from Whitmer, Dixon

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Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, left, faces Republican challenger Tudor Dixon in the first of two gubernatorial debates

MPRN's senior capitol correspondent, Rick Pluta, looks ahead to the first of two debates between the Democratic governor and her Republican challenger.

The stakes are higher tonight for Tudor Dixon, Pluta says.

"She’s significantly behind in all legit polls," he told IPR's Max Copeland. "She’s lost or almost lost the confidence of members of the donor class who will be looking for some evidence that Dixon can lead a ticket to victory. If not, national donors will look to invest in other states."

Whitmer, on the other hand, has to make sure she doesn't stumble, "doesn’t do something to make her look out of touch," Pluta aid. "Both of them have to be mindful that they don’t create a meme moment for social media that they’ll come to regret."

Topically, look for Whitmer to talk about abortion — a subject that animates Democratic voters and dovetails into Proposal 3, a ballot initiative to enshrine abortion rights into the Michigan constitution. She'll also likely try and bring up COVID recovery, jobs, and infrastructure.

Pluta expects Dixon to hammer inflation, and try and link Whitmer to President Biden's policies. He also expects the GOP challenger to focus on some gaffes Whitmer made during the pandemic, including a gather at an East Lansing bar when people were being told not to gather.

Listen to the conversation above.