Yet Another Bad Week for James Craig, Who “Absurd[ly]” Wedged Himself Into the Middle of a Foreign Tragedy Before Losing His Third Campaign Manager

“Remember, I’m a neophyte.” – James Craig

The headlines piled up once again for MIGOP insider favorite James Craig, whose road to the gubernatorial primary coronation suffered two major setbacks last week.

Craig Opened the Week Drawing an “Absurd” Connection Between Himself and the Conflict in Ukraine, “Leverag[ing] a Foreign Tragedy” in Order to Raise Money

Deadline Detroit: Ex-Detroit Chief James Craig Draws Absurd Comparison to Ukraine’s President Zelensky

While Zelensky stands tall against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and the full force of the Russian Army, Craig was busy taking a knee during the summer of Floyd, surrounded by protesters as he  chanted “justice” and “DPD.”

Craig describes himself leading from the front while wearing tactical gear during the protests of 2020. But in the video, he enters from the side, looking small and frail, dressed in a green golf shirt as he takes a knee with fellow officers in front of the Dollar Store on Gratiot.

Imagine Zelensky taking a knee with Russian separatists.

This is the same chief of police, you’ll remember who famously said he drove away when he thought he was about to be carjacked in 2013. This is the same man who was run-off of Belle Isle by protesters when he attempted to announce his campaign for governor last September. Hardly a profile in courage.

Craig should stop with the comparison. […]

Heartland Signal: James Craig Compares Himself to Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a Fundraising Email

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has awed the world with his leadership in the face of Russia’s invasion of his country. Michigan gubernatorial candidate James Craig sees his own leadership during the 2020 civil rights protests as an equal comparison. […]

After asking for a $50 donation, Craig said Zelenskyy’s leadership reminded him “the summer of 2020 when I was on the ground walking hand in hand with the community and my fellow police officers, ensuing the fires and riots we saw in so many other cities didn’t infect Detroit and spread throughout Michigan.” […]

In the email, Craig rehashed his comments from earlier this month, when he appeared on “Tucker Carlson Today” to stump for his campaign. […]

“I was on the ground, made the decision that we would use gas. I had a gas mask on.” Craig said it almost reminded him of scenes of President Zelenskyy “leading from the front, out front, all tac’d up.”  

Craig said, “That’s what it takes. I was out there in front, protesters saw me. My police officers saw me. We got it done.” 

It’s not the first time Craig has leveraged a foreign tragedy to push his campaign. 

Last August, as the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, 13 US servicemembers were killed in a suicide attack on the Kabul Airport.  

The same day, Craig’s campaign took out a paid advertisement on Facebook, enjoining people to offer prayers for the United States and those killed and injured in the bombing, and ensuring Craig’s campaign would continue to reach a wider audience.

Detroit News Insider: James Craig Says Zelenskyy’s Actions in Ukraine Remind Him of His Own

In a fundraising message that raised eyebrows in Michigan political circles, Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig connected events unfolding in Ukraine to protests in Detroit during the summer of 2020.

Craig’s campaign sent the email last weekend with the subject line “Help me lead.” Craig, the former Detroit police chief, wrote that he had watched Russians conduct an illegal invasion of Ukraine. Everyday citizens in Ukraine had taken up arms, and the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was “leading from the front,” Craig added. […] 

“It reminds me of the summer of 2020 when I was on the ground walking hand in hand with the community and my fellow police officers, ensuring the fires and riots we saw in so many other cities didn’t infect Detroit and spread throughout Michigan,” Craig wrote in the email. […]

The email message from the Craig campaign revealed it was fundraising off “a tragic and unprovoked war waged by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin that has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced millions of Ukranians,” said Rodericka Applewhaite, spokeswoman for the Michigan Democratic Party.

“Comparing himself to the heroics we’ve seen from President Zelenskyy is not only shameful but entirely inaccurate,” Applewhaite said.

Craig’s campaign didn’t provide an explanation for the Ukraine-linked fundraising pitch. 

Then, Craig Moved on to His Fourth and Fifth Campaign Managers, Prompting Michigan Reporters to Call Curtains on His Once Undisputed Frontrunner Status

Detroit News: Michigan Gop Gov Hopeful James Craig Loses Second Campaign Manager in 4 Months

James Craig, who was viewed as the front runner in the Republican primary race for Michigan governor, has lost his second campaign manager in less than four months.

Adam Wright, who had been the campaign manager for the former Detroit police chief, said Monday he “recently” submitted his resignation. [..] 

Wright’s resignation comes about a month before the April 19 filing deadline for candidates for governor to submit 15,000 petition signatures to get their names on the ballot for governor. […]

So far, Craig’s effort has been plagued by staff shake-ups.

Well-known Michigan political consultant John Yob worked with Craig, a first time candidate, early on before cutting ties in November. […]

Deadline Detroit: Ex-Detroit Chief James Craig Needs a New Campaign Manager – Again

For the second time in less than four months, James Craig has lost a campaign manager in his race to be the Republican nominee for governor. […]

Craig, a former Detroit police chief, started as the apparent frontrunner in this year’s Republican field, but others have entered the contest and its unclear where he now stands. […]

Gongwer: Craig Campaign Says it is Unfazed by Third High-Profile Resignation

The newly appointed manager for the gubernatorial campaign of retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced his resignation Monday, a move that marked yet another significant leadership staff departure for the campaign in just a few weeks’ time.

Adam Wright was brought on to lead Mr. Craig’s quest for the Michigan Republican Party nod after Anthony Sarros was ousted by Mr. Craig in early March. The candidate had blamed Mr. Sarros for a controversial mailer sent to would-be supporters, in which the campaign called the Department of State Police “weak-kneed” over their handling of protesters who disrupted Mr. Craig’s summer 2021 campaign announcement on Belle Isle.

Mr. Wright’s tenure with the campaign was equally short lived, resigning Monday. The Detroit News first reported his departure. […]

Upon joining Mr. Johnson’s camp, Mr. Yob was not shy about thrashing or mocking the other candidates in the race, particularly hitting their lackluster campaign funding, which included by extension the middling fundraising efforts of Mr. Craig. He had a decent to solid first fundraising period from July through October, raising $1.4 million. But his second period could be classified as a disaster, raising just $607,831 and spending more than that, $728,733. […]

When Mr. Craig entered the race, he was viewed as a solid frontrunner. Various stumbles have brought that into question, but recent reports on polling indicate he remains ahead. […]

Detroit Free Press: James Craig Splits With Handlers Who Shielded Him From Media in Race for Michigan Governor

Meet the new James Craig, same as the old James Craig. […]

Seemingly overnight, the campaign transformed Craig — nicknamed “Hollywood” for his love of the TV cameras in Detroit — into a heavily scripted candidate whose campaign mostly scheduled interviews only on friendly, out-of-state platforms such as Fox News. […]

In addition to restricting his access to the media, Craig suggested former handlers discouraged him from campaigning in Detroit due to limited fundraising opportunities in the predominantly Democratic city. […]

“Remember, I’m a neophyte,” Craig said. “The former campaign manager’s philosophy was that the campaign is the campaign; it’s not candidate focused, it’s more campaign focused. So there was an attitude that ‘We run the day-to-day stuff, you don’t need to get into the weeds.’ And decisions were being made candidly that left me out of the loop.”

Detroit News reporter Craig Mauger on The Guy Gordon Show – 3/22/22

GUY GORDON: …It certainly appears like there could be some trouble with the James Craig campaign. […] It does bring up a question: is this the Republicans’ best hope to defeat Gretchen Whitmer? […] So as you look at this, and as you talk to the leadership of the party, or and talk to your Republican sources. You know, the chief had fairly well known name recognition, he was perceived to be the front runner. How worried are they that these struggles are more than just growing pains?

CRAIG MAUGER: There are a lot of concerns about what is going on with James Craig’s campaign among Republicans. […] James Craig’s campaign is now on to its third leader in its early months still, and there’s uncertainty about what’s ahead. You know, a lot of Republicans are wondering how many petition signatures has the James Craig campaign gathered, they have to turn in 15,000 by April 19 To make the ballot. There are questions over whether that’s going to be accomplished or not. And there are questions about how much money he’s been raising. I mean, that’s been a constant concern among Republicans. What is James Craig doing on the fundraising trail? […]

GORDON: …And I know he’s been pretty elusive. I mean, you would think at this stage of the campaign with, with Perry Johnson up with, you know, spending millions in ads, Kevin Rinke out there with a flight of his own, that you’d be wanting to get as much free publicity as you could. Have you been able to get a sit down with him? […] I know Chad Livengood was on Twitter today saying that he’s had two interviews that were scheduled that were abruptly canceled.

MAUGER: …I’ve been trying to get an interview with the chief for, I think, multiple months now and they have not agreed to give me one. You know, I have to say I mean he is doing some media. He is on Fox News regularly…but he has not been answering questions about other issues facing Michigan…

WJBK – 3/22/22

REPORTER: These are turbulent times for the political campaign of former Detroit police chief James Craig. He has two new campaign managers in his run for governor. […] This is the second manager to leave Craig’s campaign in less than four months. 

WJBK – 3/24/22

TIM SKUBICK: …The Republicans haven’t figured out – and it looks like they aren’t going to very soon – who is going to be [Governor Whitmer’s] opponent. It’s a jump ball. 

REPORTER: So no one ahead there in that group of I think a dozen or so potential nominees?

SKUBICK: Well, nobody has really emerged. Now early on, the former chief of police for Detroit was the ordained frontrunner. I think most folks in this town now believe James Craig is not the frontrunner, neither is anybody else. There’s a couple of millionaires who are in this race who can buy some name ID. They would be considered near the head of the pack. […]

REPORTER: And Tim, just one more question about chief Craig. […] I know he’s had some trouble with campaign management. What’s been his stumble?

SKUBICK: They just can’t seem to get their act totally together. […] The soundings that I’m picking up is that there’s not a lot of momentum in that campaign. He’s not seen a lot. Some Republicans are saying he’s not at events. And I had one Republican tell me the other day…that he’s not really exciting at warming up a room. […] At some point, one of these campaigns has to catch fire, and so far, none of them really have. 

Off the Record: 3/25/22 Episode

TIM SKUBICK: Let’s make it unanimous here. Do we agree that Mr. Craig is no longer the front runner?

ZACH GORCHOW: I agree. He is not the front runner. I agree with Emily. I don’t think there is a front runner right now.

SKUBICK: Which, is it amazing or not?

GORCHOW:…Look, James Craig got into the race with a lot of fanfare last summer. You know, a lot of institutional Republicans were singing his praises. One of them was Mike Shirkey, who this week endorsed Tudor Dixon, which I think was telling of, you know, sort of Craig has disappointed so far as Jonathan said. As of the end of last year, he was developing a pretty serious financial problem. He’s gonna have to demonstrate he can keep his campaign afloat financially. And the rest of them are just a bunch of unknowns, who either have no money or are hoping their self-funding will convince people to like them.

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