“Definitely a Hail Mary”: Michigan Reporters Weigh in on Former Frontrunner James Craig’s Last Gasp for Relevancy

Yesterday, former frontrunner James Craig, who previously said “with a lot of humility” that “I am the candidate to beat,” officially transitioned his failed governor’s race to a write-in campaign.

This effort was one of the last options available for Craig to impose his wrong-for-Michigan agenda on working families after he, along with sub-quality ‘guru’ Perry Johnson and three other candidates, were struck from the ballot after they got caught submitting tens of thousands of fraudulent signatures sourced through forgery and the exploitation of dead voters.

Craig already conceded his write-in was already off to a rough start due to “problematic” fundraising, a “pare[d] down” operation with less staff, and a still-crowded primary with several named candidates on the ballot – critical hurdles anticipated on the most recent episode of ‘Off the Record.’

WATCH the clip here and read excerpts below:

Michigan Reporters Detailed How History, Finances, and Name Recognition Are All Stacked Solidly Against a Successful Craig Write-In

TIM SKUBICK (Host, Off the Record): So Jonathan, James Craig write-in campaign, a Hail Mary?

JONATHAN OOSTING (Bridge Michigan): Definitely a Hail Mary. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, Tim, you’ve been covering Michigan politics longer than I have, but I cannot recall a gubernatorial write-in candidate ever getting close to succeeding. Of course, Mike Duggan did so as Mayor of Detroit when he was kicked off the ballot. But yeah, not the same thing at all running a statewide campaign. It’s going to be very difficult. If his name is on the ballot, the fact that he has two first names could even complicate a write-in campaign. And, you know, we saw Perry Johnson, another candidate kicked off the ballots, just last night in an interview he crunched the numbers and thinks it would cost $22 million to run a successful write-in campaign. James Craig doesn’t have that money.

SKUBICK: James Craig has…? How close to 22 million is, Mr. Craig?

OOSTING: Probably about 21 short, at least.

CRAIG MAUGER (Detroit News): Nowhere near. And keep in mind, we’ve seen this already during this campaign. His own attorney spelled his name incorrectly in a legal filing. And I think that kind of speaks to how likely it is that he’s going to get a large swath of voters to write his name in correctly. And he’s campaigned often as Chief Craig. I mean, that’s how he has identified himself in a lot of his advertisements. And that’s not going to be enough. If someone writes down “Chief Craig,” that will likely not be enough to get a vote. 

Emily Lawler Reminded the Panel That Even Craig’s Original Run for Office “Had Problems From the Start”

EMILY LAWLER (Detroit Free Press): Yeah, I think this campaign has had problems from the start, right? We saw a sort of catastrophic launch which I think we talked about on this show. You know, he’s burned through a few campaign managers, consultants. It seems like there’s been some staff churn. Frankly, the 15,000 signature threshold that you need to get on the ballot is not meant to be an insurmountable or especially difficult barrier. If you don’t have enough organizational capacity to do that, I question if you have enough organizational capacity to run a write-in campaign. So I will use one sports metaphor on this show ever, but this is sort of like wimping out halfway through a 5k and deciding you want to run a marathon.

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