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Michigan GOP gubernatorial field set at ten candidates

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A handful of GOP gubernatorial hopefuls submitted their signatures Tuesday just ahead of a 4 p.m. deadline to get on the primary ballot.

Ten Republicans will vie for the party’s nomination to face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in her re-election bid this November.

Real estate broker Ryan Kelley spoke to reporters after submitting more signatures for his petition. He said he plans to stand out from the field by not catering his message to appeal to independent voters.

“I’m going to stand strong on conservative values with real truth solutions for the state and attract people to us, not figure out what my message has to be in order for them to vote for me,” he said.

Kelley took the moment to challenge each of the other Republican candidates to a one-on-one debate.

Kelley is among the candidates courting a coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump. He said it won’t affect his campaign if the Trump decides to go in a different direction.

“My message is my message, and I will not change that regardless of receiving or not receiving the Trump endorsement,” Kelley said. “My message is going to be clear. I will stand and fight for the people and keep my message on track regardless of where the endorsements lie.”

Kelley recently flew down to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for a fundraiser also attended by fellow candidates like self-described quality guru Perry Johnson and pastor Ralph Rebandt.

Johnson was the last of the candidates to submit his nominating petition. He told reporters that was on purpose.

“In the end, we think we’re going to win. So, I’m going to be here talking to all of you in the end. So, why not have an opportunity at the end for everybody see what Michigan is going to have in the future,” Johnson said.

He said he had big endorsements he planned to announce next week but did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Rebandt said he planned to separate himself from the crowded field by highlighting his Judeo-Christian values.

“There are other people out there professing to be believers or have people of faith. But my message is really strong that if we don't get God right in this next election, we're going to lose everything,” Rebandt said.

He said he believes the party will unify behind the gubernatorial candidate after the primary race is over.

Also running for the Republican nomination are former TV host Tudor Dixon, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, businesswoman Donna Brandenburg, Michigan State Police Captain Michael Brown, financial advisor Michael J. Markey Jr., businessman Kevin Rinke, and chiropractor Garrett Soldano.

Michigan’s primary election is August 2.

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