Candidates for Michigan governor debate tonight: 4 things to watch

Whitmer, Schuette face off second and final time Wednesday night in Detroit

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DETROIT – The general election of 2018’s midterm cycle is rapidly approaching with less than two weeks to go until voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Candidates for Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Schuette will share the debate stage one last time before Election Day in an event hosted by Local 4 and moderated by Kimberly Gill and Devin Scillian.

Watch the debate live on Local 4 tonight at 8 p.m.

But first, here are four things to watch heading into the debate:

Health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions

At WOOD-TV’s gubernatorial debate on Oct. 12, Whitmer claimed that Schuette filed “nine lawsuits to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

Schuette responded saying the lawsuits were about constitutional overreach and “every time I did that, I said I was in favor of maintaining coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.”

Voters can decide for themselves whether they take Schuette at his word. Regardless, it is a fact that, had the Affordable Care Act been repealed, many people with pre-existing conditions would have lost health coverage. No concrete plan was or is yet in place to protect those patients should the ACA be struck down.

Health care is a major issue in this election cycle, with a significant number of ads across different races devoted to the topic. Don’t be surprised if Whitmer and Schuette trade jabs on this hot-button issue one more time.

Justice and injustice (a.k.a. Who did what when?)

Both of these candidates take issue with the other’s legal record.

Bill Schuette claims Gretchen Whitmer failed to file charges against Larry Nassar when she served as interim Ingham County prosecutor. Whitmer claims Schuette ignored complaints about the water in Flint for two years before prosecuting those responsible as attorney general.

Bridge Magazine’s “Truth Squad” has already fact-checked these claims. Suffice it to say there is likely unresolved tension surrounding the charged issues of the Nassar prosecution and the continuing Flint water crisis that both campaigns would like another opportunity to address.

Extremism or pragmatism?

During the Oct. 12 debate, Schuette attempted to paint Whitmer as a candidate with an “extreme” agenda for Michigan that would raise taxes on everyday Michiganders and stall economic growth.

Whitmer, on the other hand, branded herself a moderate who crossed the aisle to help Republican Gov. Rick Snyder expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. She says Schuette’s legal challenges to the ACA were reckless without a backup plan for health care.

These competing narratives about the nature of each candidate’s agenda are sure to make it into the final debate, and it will be interesting to see who is able to package these arguments in the most effective way.

Motivating voters

At this point in the race, Whitmer and Schuette know who their voters are. They are no longer chasing the undecided vote and are instead focusing on motivating their base to turn out as many people as possible to the polls on Nov. 6.

So it may be worth asking yourself at the end of this debate: Did either of these candidates motivate you get out and vote for them on Election Day?

Watch the final Michigan gubernatorial debate live on Local 4 tonight at 8 p.m.