91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Craig campaign rollout disrupted, delayed by protesters

james craig
YouTube screenshot

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig formally announced today that he is running as a Republican for governor of Michigan. This announcement has been expected for months – since Craig retired in June. The surprise came in how the event played out.

The location on Belle Isle with the Detroit River and the city’s skyline as a backdrop might have been idyllic. The weather was warm. The sun was out.

It was also a perfect day for a protest. And protesters showed up. And they were loud. Craig tried.

“I’m just here to say one thing…”

But the din from the demonstrators drowned him out.

“… I got one thing to say. I’m running for governor. I’m running for governor of the state Michigan. Let’s go…”

James Craig standing behind a podium outdoors
Zoe Clark
Michigan Radio
Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

So Craig retreated from the podium to a nearby SUV and was whisked away. Craig supporters said they were angry and disappointed

“If they’re all about peace and equality then they should have let both sides – instead of attacking, like they just did, attacking him, and with the blaring and the sirens and all that, it’s just not fair, you know?” said Craig supporter Teuta Duenez.

Craig said he believes the demonstrators were paid provocateurs, saying first he knows who they are before acknowledging he had no evidence to back that claim.

At the new venue, roughly an hour and a half later, Craig resumed – focusing his criticisms on Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her COVID-19 pandemic response.

“And our governor has been more focused on political science rather than actual science from the beginning.”

Craig said he’s opposed to shutdown orders, and mask and vaccine mandates in schools. He said those decisions should be up to parents. Craig said he successfully ensured Detroit was not harmed during Black Lives Matter protests, but made no mention of a court order limiting the tactics and weapons officers were allowed to use after complaints of excessive force.

Craig joins a field of a dozen or more candidates already in or expected to soon join the Republican primary race.

Republican political consultant John Sellek said Craig could hold a key that’s long eluded GOP tickets.

“The GOP certainly has long wanted to make inroads in African-American cities. There tends to be a lot of voters, especially seniors, who are regular churchgoers. They tend to be a little bit more conservative culturally, but they’ve never been able to make an inroad there,” he said.

Sellek said Craig could represent that aspiration to attract more African American voters while also appealing to so-called “law-and-order” voters who don’t like the Black Lives Matter protests.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has made no formal announcement on her plans, but she is expected to seek reelection next year. She’s been prolifically fundraising and is expected to formally announce her intentions soon.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Related Content