Republican Candidates Shy Away from Tough Questions

For a series of articles about candidates for the Michigan state legislature, Great Lakes Weekly reach out to over 130 candidates in competitive races across the state – nearly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. We asked questions about several issues including abortion rights, health care, and a ballot proposal to enshrine voting rights into the state constitution.

Of those we contacted, over six times as many Democrats responded. In fact, only five Republicans responded despite multiple contacts via email, candidate website contact pages, and Facebook messages.

One response we received may explain why there is such a disparity. “I am truly sorry,” wrote Lynne Freiberger, Republican candidate for the 68th House District, “But, the subject matter is too volatile for me to have an opinion that could be used against my campaign. I would be happy to provide an opinion AFTER the primary.”

Democrat candidates, by and large, were happy to answer and took definitive stands on these “volatile” issues, particularly those related to abortion rights.

When asked about the Reproductive Freedom For All ballot proposal to protect the right to an abortion in the state constitution, many not only supported it but carried the petition during their campaign’s canvassing. “I strongly support this ballot initiative,” wrote 56th House District candidate Cyndi Peltonen. “I rallied to bring awareness to the movement and gathered eight pages of signatures on the petitions. I pledge to continue to do whatever I can to make sure the measure is passed in November.”

Another Democrat, Emily Stivers who is running for the 75th House District seat, was equally emphatic. “I not only support it,” she wrote, “I took time away from my campaign to personally collect more than 500 signatures for it. Without it, at the termination of Gov. Whitmer’s court cases, Michigan is likely to revert to an archaic 1931 complete abortion ban. The legislature is not going to pass the corresponding Reproductive Freedom for All bill package without a Democratic majority in both houses. That’s why nothing on the November 8th ballot is more important than the Reproductive Freedom for All proposal, and why I’m going to devote myself to getting out the vote.”

These results are, perhaps, not surprising given the overwhelming support of abortion rights by Michigan residents and across the country:

According to the latest PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist Poll, 56 percent of U.S. adults opposed the Supreme Court’s decision and 40 percent supported the decision, with 4 percent who were unsure. Fifty-five percent of U.S. adults support abortion rights, while 36 percent said they did not. Sixty-six percent personally know someone personally who had had an abortion.

In Michigan, a statewide survey of 600 registered voters conducted for the Detroit Regional Chamber in May 2022, a week after a leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion, about 55 percent of voters supported leaving Roe v. Wade in place, while about a quarter supported overturning it.

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