Republican governors target Whitmer in new ad

Republican governors target Whitmer in new ad
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The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is set to target Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerFormer longtime Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87 Reporter: FBI involvement in Whitmer plot similar to sting operations targeting Islamic extremists Former Detroit police chief takes step toward gubernatorial run MORE in a TV ad effort in the state, spending more than $500,000 ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. 

The ad, titled "Suzette's Testimonial," criticizes Whitmer for flying to Florida to visit her father during the coronavirus pandemic. The spot features a woman named Suzette, who said she could not visit her father in Michigan before he died in a nursing home because Whitmer closed the facilities during the pandemic. 

"Whitmer ignored her own rules while the rest of us were first to comply," Suzette says in the ad. "Gretchen Whitmer failed Michigan, failed me, and failed my father." 

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The ad is sponsored by Get Michigan Working Again, a political action committee and RGA affiliate. 

Michigan's Democratic Party hit back at the RGA in a statement, calling the ad "desperate" and "misleading."

“As Michigan reopens, National Republicans are throwing misleading political ads to distract from their failed response to combating COVID-19. This desperate attack on Governor Whitmer doesn’t change the fact that her leadership saved the lives of countless Michganders, especially our seniors,” said the state party's spokeswoman Rodericka Applewhaite. 

Whitmer has faced backlash in recent days for the trip, which took place from March 12 to March 15. 

Michigan eased restrictions on nursing home visitations on March 2, allowing visitors who have tested negative for the virus to visit relatives in nursing homes as long as the facilities had not reported new coronavirus cases for two weeks. 

Whitmer has faced ongoing backlash from conservative groups over the visit. Michigan Rising filed a complaint with the IRS last week alleging that her flight to Florida was funded by a nonprofit group. 

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Whitmer was first elected to serve in the governor's mansion in 2018. She has since become a target for Republicans looking to make inroads again in Michigan after former President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE won the state in 2016. 

So far conservative political commentator Tudor Dixon and anti-lockdown activist and chiropractor Garrett Soldano have launched challenges against Whitmer. 

Updated at 5 p.m.