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Political Consultants Weigh In on What a James Craig Gubernatorial Campaign Would Look Like

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Image credit: City of Detroit/Flickr

If James Craig does run against Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, his campaign is already off to a bad start, consultants say.

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Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been hinting at running for governor of Michigan since the announcement of his retirement. Many Michiganders, especially Detroit residents, have mixed feelings about the idea of his candidacy after he made his Republican views clear. Several government officials, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Rep. Brenda Lawrence, have already announced their plans to stand with Gov. Whitmer if she seeks re-election in 2022. 

Any Republican that starts off their talking points by saying James Craig changes the nature of the voting universe, you’ve got to question that, because there’s no evidence of that.” —John Sellek, Harbor Strategic Public Affairs 


Listen: What would a James Craig gubernatorial candidacy look like?


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John Sellek is CEO of Harbor Strategic Public Affairs. He says if James Craig is planning to run for governor in 2022, his campaign is off to a bad start. “I’m not so sure this information leaked out in a way they meant for it to leak out.”

Sellek says Michigan Republicans have been searching for a major candidate to oppose Gov. Whitmer and Craig appears to fit the bill. ”There’s no doubt that Republicans are waiting and trying to find their candidate,” he says.

Craig doesn’t have any clear stances on policy yet, Sellek says. ”Any Republican that starts off their talking points by saying James Craig changes the nature of the voting universe, you’ve got to question that, because there’s no evidence of that.”

The confusing signals being put out, such as Mayor Mike Duggan saying will support Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, are an indication of how James Craig's campaign might be run, says Adrian Hemond, co-founder and CEO of Grassroots Midwest.City of Detroit/Flickr
City of Detroit/Flickr

The confusing signals being put out, such as Mayor Mike Duggan saying will support Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, are an indication of how James Craig’s campaign might be run, says Adrian Hemond, co-founder and CEO of Grassroots Midwest.

He says Craig will be expected to express his views on the current state of the Republican party, including the idea of the Big Lie. “If James Craig is gonna be the GOP nominee, he’s gonna have to run a Republican campaign in the current Republican environment.”

Adrian Hemond is co-founder and CEO of Grassroots Midwest. He says the idea of a James Craig running for governor ”reeks of desperation.” “It’s kind of a desperation throw … there’s not really a whole lot of reason for this candidacy … but the Republicans need to shake this up somehow,” he says.

Hemond says the confusing signals being put out are an indication of how his campaign might be run. ”It was a totally bungled campaign rollout. The mayor of the city where you’re police chief endorsed your opponent at your retirement announcement.”

Hemond says Craig’s tenure as police chief will be subject to scrutiny if he runs. ”We haven’t even gotten into James Craig’s record. If he wants to run as a law-and-order candidate, he’s going to have to answer questions about issues in his department as chief.”

If Craig is the GOP candidate, Hemond says it won’t end well for Michigan Republicans. ”I think if it ends up being James Craig, the governor gets re-elected.”

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Nora Rhein works with the production team on “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” on 101.9 WDET. She’s very proud to be a public radio nerd.


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