Whitmer and challenger Dixon share thoughts on EVs: What they said

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) and Republican challenger Tudor Dixon

Michigan is the place that put the world on wheels but how to best support the state as it competes for EV business in the hyper-competitive marketplace and keep up with growing need for more EV charging stations were among topics I talked about this week with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her Republican challenger, Tudor Dixon.

Whitmer, a first-term Democratic governor, is facing Dixon, a businesswoman from Norton Shores. While not a debate — per se — the two candidates who are hoping to win your vote on Nov. 8 sat with me separately for two segments, answering essentially the same questions. The segments air on “Michigan Matters” at 8 a.m. Sunday on CBS Detroit.

We also talked about EVs, with Whitmer telling me she’ll buy a Michigan-made electric vehicle when done with elected office (she is currently being driven, as a perk of her current job) and Dixon, meanwhile, saying she drives a Chevy Tahoe, and added she couldn’t afford an EV even if she wanted one.

Whitmer talked about the importance of landing EV battery plants as a way to entice more business to Michigan. She also mentioned GM’s $7 billion investment in four plants in Michigan revolving around EVs announced in January, which is expected to create 4,000 new jobs.

“Landing an EV battery plant is key to how we’ll build out our (EV) infrastructure,” Whitmer told me.

Whitmer also talked about how the state is stepping up to add more EV charging stations around Michigan and with other states along Lake Michigan.

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Dixon, meanwhile is critical of the state’s potential financial support of a proposed EV battery plant in Big Rapids by a Chinese battery parts maker. She took to social media Thursday to post a video in which she says Whitmer and the state Legislature are “working together to put hundreds of millions of taxpayer money into a Chinese corporation that will be building a battery plant in the state of Michigan.”

The proposed facility by Gotion Inc. would be a boon to Mecosta County with over 2,000 jobs. It has gained support from the Republican-controlled state Legislature and communities near the project. Gotion was founded in China in 2006; its U.S. subsidiary incorporated in California in 2014.

We also talked about the pandemic and how Michigan businesses have fared.

Whitmer discussed the early days of the crisis and how she made decisions on things like keeping businesses and schools closed after talking to national experts.

Dixon talked about how small business owners she has talked to as she crisscrosses the state criticize Whitmer’s handling of the crisis as it went on — as businesses and schools stayed closed longer than other states. Dixon added that states led by Democratic governors stayed closed longer than those led by Republican governors.

Both candidates talked about K-12 education and the need to better prepare young people for the tech jobs of the future.

And there was talk of Proposal 3 — which is before Michigan voters and deals with abortion. Dixon further explained her views on the subject and Whitmer discussed her lawsuit challenging Michigan’s statute criminalizing the procedure.

Both mentioned their kids as being a motivating force as they continue on the campaign trail.

I asked each their thoughts about the other. Dixon said some interesting things about Whitmer, and Whitmer, well, she didn’t go there.

After we wound down our interviews and each dashed off to her next campaign stop, I couldn’t help but smile. Not over any issue. It was about the significance of having two strong women running for the top elected job in Michigan. It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since a woman was first elected governor in Michigan.

“She’s the One!” was the giant headline the Free Press ran when Jennifer Granholm cracked the glass gubernatorial ceiling.

When the dust settles, and votes tallied on Nov. 8, one thing is certain — a woman will again be leading our state.

Contact Carol Cain: 248-355-7126 or clcain@cbs.com. She is senior producer/host of “Michigan Matters,” which airs 8 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62. See Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican challenger Tudor Dixon on this Sunday’s show.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Whitmer and challenger Dixon share their thoughts on EVs and more