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For The Week Of January 16, 2022 Through January 22, 2022

Soldano Extolls Campaign Platforms Amid Delivery Of Ballot Signatures

By Ben Solis
Staff Writer
Posted: January 20, 2022 2:27 PM

Garrett Soldano was among the first, if not the first Republican gubernatorial primary hopeful to announce his bid for the nomination, and now, he is counted among the first of the lot to deliver the requisite number of signatures for access to the ballot.

Those signatures still need to be analyzed by the Bureau of Elections to see if at least 15,000 of his 20,000 collected signatures check out as valid and from registered voters, and if at least 100 of them are valid signatures in half of Michigan's congressional districts.

Notwithstanding, Mr. Soldano's campaign picked up steam Wednesday with the delivery of those signatures and his energy going into race this year was palpable during a press conference yesterday outside the Richard H. Austin building (See Gongwer Michigan Report, January 19, 2022).

And after nearly a year of being placed in the background of the primary stage, playing third fiddle to the likes of candidates like former Detroit police chief James Craig and millionaire Kevin Rinke, Mr. Soldano has moved up in the seriousness meter and others appear to be taking note. That includes the Michigan Democratic Party, which has focused some of its messaging of late to highlight what they call Mr. Soldano's extremist views with the same fervor it has on Mr. Craig and Mr. Rinke.

Mr. Soldano brushed aside those criticisms speaking to reporters Wednesday. He was not coy on what his campaign platform looks like or what he'd like to achieve if elected to Michigan's highest political office come November, either.

First and foremost, the candidate from Mattawan said that he would end mask mandates in public schools, much like Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin did at the top of this year. While Mr. Rinke has been compared to more of a Youngkin-type candidate, Mr. Soldano also carries with him an outsider draw that's been igniting the grassroots Republican base. Mr. Rinke or Mr. Craig appear to be the preferred candidate of the party's insiders and elite.

He also said he would attempt to bring back fully in-person public education, adding to his mask rhetoric by saying that it wasn't just a health crisis or a teacher shortage schools were dealing with, but potentially a mental health crisis due to children not being to interact with their peers in the same way they had before. Mr. Soldano cited mask mandates as a part of the problem, saying he believed that children were no longer developing vital physiological and social awareness because their faces were mostly hidden from view. He specifically called that a catastrophic consequence of the pandemic and the state's various public health orders.

It is important to note there is no statewide mask mandate, and local schools or counties are setting those policies. Individual districts are also the ones deciding whether to go virtual or not.

Election integrity is also on the top of his list, whereas Mr. Rinke and Mr. Craig have focused more on education and Michigan's economy. He told reporters that he was for voter identification requirements, as well as auditing past elections like 2020 and future elections. He said it should be a bipartisan issue because "we the people want to know that our votes are going to count."

Local election officials have conducted audits on the 2020 election, and they have confirmed the results.

While Democrats in the Legislature have largely panned or condemned as voter suppression the 19 bills fashioned last year by the Republican majority, Mr. Soldano said the respective chambers have done their jobs focusing on election integrity despite Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoing those efforts.

Mr. Soldano also touched on situations over the years where he felt Ms. Whitmer was less than transparent on policy issues, much like the science behind her decision making during the opening salvo of the COVID-19 pandemic, or on other issues like the Freedom of Information Act extending to the Legislature and governor's office.

On Wednesday, Mr. Soldano said that the governor and lawmakers should absolutely be subject to FOIA, and that he wouldn't kowtow to party leaders who opposed bills or measures to shine a light on the innerworkings of high-level state government. He also said he was not surprised to see that Lansing's Democrats and Republicans were mostly silent after he said he would push a transparency platform once spearheaded by Ms. Whitmer.

"Why is that? Well, I'm concerned about that. Why are they so worried about that? Just transparency and truth?" he said. "Well, we're going to get that all out. Look, I'm not here to make friends in Lansing. I don't work for them. I don't work for the party bosses of the establishment. These folks, I work for all of you."

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