Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig should be the Republicans’ nominee for the U.S. Senate.
He should have been the Republicans’ 2022 gubernatorial nominee, too.
But just like in 2022, Craig is going to blow it.
Two years ago, Craig had a mildly plausible excuse. Some unscrupulous contractors took advantage of Craig’s procrastination in collecting 15,000 valid petition signatures. They sold crap to him and a lot of other candidates. He and his team were in such in a hurry to turn in ANYTHING that they didn’t catch it.
This time, Craig isn’t even bothering with a real campaign, even with the wind at his back.
Craig was sitting at 33% in a multicandidate primary earlier this month, 13 percentage points higher than former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. He has better name recognition than Rogers, Peter Meijer or any of the other Republicans looking to run for the seat.
Yet he sent out a desperate fundraising email this week, signaling that the end of the campaign may be near.
“I don’t know what to say … but this could be the last email of my campaign,” Craig wrote in the message, obtained by The Midwesterner. “Each month, my team sets fundraising goals in order to keep the lights on for my campaign. Unfortunately, each and every month, we keep falling short of these goals.”
The reasons are multifold. First, he can’t hold onto his staff. His first campaign manager and his deputy campaign manager left 17 days into the campaign, then held the website they created for him hostage until Craig paid up.
He’s since been relying on consultant Ted Goodman, who’s been checking in on the race here and there. That’s not enough.
Also, Craig has not been seen at a single campaign event by any other candidate since he announced he was running Oct. 3.
Four U.S. Senate candidates appeared at the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance forum Jan. 19. None said they’ve seen Craig this campaign. That includes Nikki Snyder and Michael Hoover, who have attended dozens of chicken dinners since first entering the race.
Rogers has been at a few events here and there, but he’s been trying to avoid inopportune ambushes. You could understand Craig doing the same, but he’s taking avoidance to the next level.
“Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero” is how one follower of the U.S. Senate race described Craig’s level of in-person activity to me.
Craig is on social media, however, and does one-on-one interviews with Fox News and other national and statewide outlets.
One source said Craig reached out to a signature collection firm recently to ask about pricing, confessing that he’s a “little behind” on that front. No deal with that firm was reached after pricing estimates were given.
Political consultant John Sellek from Harbor Strategic Public Affairs perhaps put it best when he compared Craig to a land speculator.
“He’s putting a few dollars on a piece of property and waiting to see if Trump builds on it. If not, we’re unlikely to see a fully formed campaign.”
If that was Craig’s plan, it’s not a good one. Donald Trump’s heavy endorsement strategy in 2022 didn’t work out well for him. This year, he’s taking endorsements from others, but Trump is not making them in 2024. At all.
To be fair, Craig isn’t great at public events. He’s not a gifted retail politician like Rogers. He’s not going to outshine Meijer in a debate. He doesn’t have former Gov. Rick Snyder’s to-the-point bluntness or Hoover’s folksy charm. He’s viewed as “too establishment” to appeal to the MAGA grassroots folks like Dr. Sherry O’Donnell.
If he were burning up the phones and banking millions of dollars like Democratic candidate Elissa Slotkin, it might not matter. He could coast to the general election on TV and digital ads talking about now he did not buckle during the George Floyd protests.
Clearly, based on this email, he’s not doing that either.
And, once again, he’s not likely to make the starting line.
(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here