LANSING — Today, James Craig attempted to extend his already months-long avoidance of tough questions with the announcement of an “exploratory” committee — a distinction his team of Lansing insiders made up and doesn’t exist under Michigan campaign finance law — that he plans to hide behind until Labor Day (9/6/21).
With the launch of this committee, Craig can now legally start raising money to compete against his seven primary opponents and Governor Whitmer’s $10 million war chest. However, the former police chief is still potentially facing investigation from the secretary of state’s office following accusations he’s been operating as a candidate without declaring himself as one from May until now.
Excerpts of initial coverage on James Craig’s entry into the Republican gubernatorial primary can be read below:
Bridge Michigan: “Craig’s long campaign tease, though, has attracted detractors.
Earlier this week, longtime Republican strategist Jeff Timmer filed a complaint with the Michigan Secretary of State alleging Craig had violated campaign finance laws because he has been receiving contributions and making expenditures without a registered candidate committee. […]
Lansing election lawyer Steven Liedel noted Wednesday on Twitter that there is “no such thing as an exploratory committee under Michigan law (unlike federal).”
“Under Michigan law he is a candidate for Governor,” wrote Liedel, who served in the administration of former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
A request for comment was not immediately returned by Craig’s campaign. […]
But Craig has yet to answer questions from the media. Not all Republicans are sold, either, as the news site MIRS last week reported that some are still trying to woo former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos into the race. […]
As Craig tries to coalesce Republicans around him, meanwhile, Whitmer has raised $8.5 million this cycle and has more than $10 million in cash, according to a statement from her campaign this week. […]
An incumbent Michigan governor hasn’t lost re-election since 1990 when then-Gov. Jim Blanchard was denied a third term, and no incumbent has lost since voters approved a two-term limit.
Crain’s Detroit Business: “Craig announced the creation of an “explanatory committee” Wednesday morning after incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election campaign said Tuesday that she has raised more than $8.5 million this year and has $10 million in cash on hand for what’s expected to be a bruising 2022 campaign. […] Under Michigan campaign finance law, there’s no mechanism for a candidate to create an actual exploratory committee. […]
Strategic National, the Grand Rapids-based political consulting firm of GOP strategist John Yob, distributed Craig’s news release on Wednesday. Yob, the strategist behind businessman Rick Snyder’s victory in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, has been seen at recent Republican Party events with Craig.
Craig’s committee was formed just days after longtime Republican political consultant Jeff Timmer filed a complaint with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office about Craig going around the state giving speeches without forming a candidate committee with the state and being subject to campaign finance rules.”
Detroit Free Press: “Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced Wednesday he has formed what he called “an exploratory committee” allowing him to raise and spend money for a potential run for governor, but he again stopped short of officially announcing his candidacy. […]
Craig’s formation of a committee under Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act follows a complaint filed Monday by Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, alleging that Craig was in violation of the act by spending money to advance his candidacy without having formed a committee. Michigan law does not distinguish between committees formed by candidates who have declared they are running and those who are still exploring the idea. […]
Since retiring from Detroit police at the end of June, Craig has given political speeches at GOP events in Jackson and Grand Rapids, but has taken no questions from the audience or reporters.”
The Detroit News: “There are many unknowns about the former chief, including his position on an array of issues and how he’ll handle questions about Trump, who has become a political lightning rod.”
Associated Press: “Republicans’ attempts to make gains in places like Detroit and Flint have failed. Whitmer, who won by nearly 10 percentage points in 2018, took 94% of the vote in the state’s largest city. In 2020, U.S. Senate candidate John James — who is Black — won just 5% of Detroit votes.”
Steven C. Liedel: “Apparently the law enforcement candidate doesn’t understand the law. No such thing as an exploratory committees under Michigan law (unlike federal). If you expend or raise resources, you are a candidate. Period. That’s deceptive. It will not be a candidate committee. It already is. He is under Michigan law a candidate for governor. Just as deceptive as his use of “chief”. He is a former police chief, and is not now a chief.”
Joel Kurth: “More slow-dancing from James Craig.”
Craig Mauger: “Who else launched a candidate committee in Michigan that they initially described as “exploratory?” Snyder formed his committee for governor with the word “exploratory” in the name in March 2009. Three months later, he filed paperwork to amend the name and drop “exploratory.” John Yob worked for Snyder’s campaign. He is also working with James Craig.”
Chad Livengood: “Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig has formed a committee to explore running for governor. On Monday, longtime GOP consultant @jefftimmer filed a complaint with @MichSoS over Craig giving speeches & running around the state like a candidate w/o a legal committee.”
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán: “The announcement of the exploratory committee comes days after @jefftimmer filed a complaint with the state Bureau of Elections alleging Craig violated campaign finance laws for campaigning without a candidate committee. #mipol”
Steve Neavling: “In a newly released video, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig says he “made Detroit a safer city,” a claim contradicted by violent crime stats.”